Political and Cultural Significance of the Flavian Amphitheatre
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Assess the political and cultural significance of the construction and initial use of the Colosseum.
Throughout the history of Ancient Rome, the construction of public buildings was used as a political tool, to manipulate the views of the people and to demonstrate the power of the State. The very first emperor of Rome, Augustus, initiated social reform through the construction of buildings from 27 BC onwards. Emperor Vespasian in 69 AD used a similar initiative, and throughout Rome’s history it can be seen that times of civil unrest are often followed by a flourish in architecture and the arts. An example of this can be seen in one of Vespasian’s major building projects, the Colosseum, officially the Flavian Amphitheatre, which had…show more content… In 79 AD Vespasian came to his final days, dying before the construction of the Colosseum was complete. His son, Titus, was to take over his role as emperor. Titus, new in his role, knew that he too must impress the people as his father had done, and so he announced the opening of the Colosseum would occur one year later. This seemed like an impossible goal for the constructers, and Titus had planned an extravagant opening to ensure that none would think he was less visionary than his father. Upon the opening of the great amphitheatre there were one hundred days of fighting. These one hundred days involved the slaughter of an unfathomable number of animals and men; one source tells us that five thousand animals were killed in the first day. The writer Cassius Dio tells us just how extravagant the opening may have been;
“Titus suddenly filled this same theatre with water and brought in horses and bulls and some other domesticated animals that had been taught to behave in the liquid element just as on land. He also brought in people on ships, who engaged in a sea-fight there, impersonating the Corcyreans and Corinthians.”
This suggests that Titus had the Colosseum flooded in order to stage a naval battle; however several historians question the technicalities of this, despite the multiple