Social Structure in the Colosseum

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The Ancient Roman Social Structure in the Colosseum

Ancient Rome is one of the greatest and most influential societies in the history of the world. From the basic rules of how the Roman Empire is set up to the infrastructures in the city, the strict hierarchy of Roman social structure can be reflected clearly all over the whole ancient Rome. In fact that “public architecture presents people with the official view of a society and provides the background against which its individual markers live their lives.”1 With the great desire of Roman for entertainment and their special taste for blood, the amphitheatre is considered as the most popular and most representative type of the entertainment building in the ancient Roman culture. And
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The fantastic synthesis of seating arrangement and the order of the use of different style provides a visual symbol and expression of the concept of the strict hierarchical Roman social structure.

As a matter of fact, the system of entrance and exit of the Colosseum is another important aspect to explore how significant the impact caused by the Roman social structure on the architecture design is. Corresponding to strict arrangement of seating, after arriving at the Colosseum, the spectators are able to find out the specified entrance and exit routs for different social classes.7 Colosseum has an efficient network of vaulted passageways consisting eighty archways serving as entrance and exit.8 Without a doubt, it is certain that the entrance for the emperor is separated from the gates opening for the crowds. Among the eighty archways, there is only one special entrance used by the most powerful men with a great contrast to the public entrance. The walls leading to the special entrance have rich decoration, such as painting and stuccoes.9 Additionally, in order to achieve the efficiency as much as possible, the “admission tokens”10 with numbers of the seats are created to “enable the public spectators to go directly to the proper entrance for reaching their own seats”.
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