Skip to main content
Select Source:

Colosseum

Colosseum or Coliseum (both: kŏləsē´əm), Ital. Colosseo, common name of the Flavian Amphitheater in Rome, near the southeast end of the Forum, between the Palatine and Esquiline hills. Begun by Vespasian, c.AD 75, and completed by his son Titus in AD 80, it is the most imposing of Roman antiquities. The vast four-storied oval is 617 ft (188 m) by 512 ft (156 m), much of which is still standing; it had tier on tier of marble seats accommodating c.45,000 spectators. It encloses an arena measuring 250 ft (76 m) by 151 ft (46 m) where gladiatorial combats were held (see gladiators) until 404. According to tradition, persecuted Christians were thrown there to beasts. The Colosseum has been damaged several times by earthquakes.

See J. Pearson, Arena: The Story of the Colosseum (1974).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Colosseum." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Colosseum." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/colosseum

"Colosseum." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/colosseum

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Colosseum

Colosseum Ampitheatre in Rome, built ad 72–81 by the Emperor Vespasian. One of the most awe-inspiring examples of ancient Roman architecture, it measures 189 × 156m (620 × 513ft) by 45.7m (150ft) high, and seated c.50,000 people. Citizens of Rome came here to watch gladiatorial contests and, according to tradition, the martyrdom of Christians.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Colosseum." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Colosseum." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/colosseum

"Colosseum." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/colosseum

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Colosseum

Colosseum the name since medieval times of the Amphitheatrum Flavium, a vast amphitheatre in Rome, begun c.75 ad; the name is Latin, and is the neuter of colosseus ‘gigantic’.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Colosseum." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Colosseum." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/colosseum

"Colosseum." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/colosseum

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.

Colosseum

COLOSSEUM

The Colosseum in Rome, Italy, was originally called the Amphitheatrum Flavianum. Since its construction (a.d. 7280) this gigantic amphitheater has been regarded both as a symbol of Rome's power and as one of the world's greatest wonders. The structure, built of travertine blocks upon the site of Nero's Golden House by the Emperors Vespasian and Titus, is an ellipse 1,719 feet in circumference and 159 feet in height, with an arena 282 by 177 feet. In its best preserved section it is four stories high. The first three stories are formed by arcades with pillars of Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders respectively; the fourth is a tier of blind arcading, broken by alternate panels and windows. The interior had three tiers of marble seats for about 50,000 spectators. Beneath the sanded arena was an elaborate structure of rooms, vaults, passageways, and drains.

The intricate system of substructures beneath the arena seems to indicate that it could be flooded for mock naval battles. There were efficient devices for the drainage of the entire interior, which have been in part restored. Surrounding the arena was a low wall surmounted by a railing high enough to protect the audience from wild animals and combatants. The primary purpose of the huge arena was entertainment, such as gladiatorial fights, naval clashes, and wild beast fights. While it has been venerated as the scene of numerous Christian martyrdoms since the 17th century, this late tradition has been seriously questioned by recent scholars, especially the Bollandist H. delehaye, as the ancient Christian sources make no mention of such martyrdoms.

Because of earthquakes and its use as a stone quarry, the Colosseum continued to deteriorate until Pope benedict xiv (174058) forbade further demolition. Because of periodic stories of buried treasure in the Colosseum, Pope pius ix, in 1864, gave permission for excavations. Nothing of intrinsic value was found. However, the excavations did give R. Lanciani an opportunity to examine the foundations of the vast structure. He found that the substructures were arched like those of the structure above the ground, and that underneath them was a very thick bed of concrete. Further excavations were begun in 1938. The outbreak of World War II in the following year suspended the work, which resumed at the end of the war. An eight-year restoration of the Colosseum in 1992 was part of a project of sprucing up the city of Rome for the new millennium. Archaeological excavations continue to be carried out in the elaborate system of labyrinths beneath.

Bibliography: g. lugli, The Flavian Amphitheatre: the Colosseum (Rome 1971). p. quennell, The Colosseum (New York 1971). m. l. conforto and a. m. reggiani, Anfiteatro flavio: immagine, testimonianze, spettacoli (Rome 1988). r. luciani, The Colosseum: Architecture, History, and Entertainment in the Flavian Amphitheatre, Ancient Rome's Most Famous Building (Novara, Italy 1990).

[t. j. allen/eds.]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Colosseum." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Nov. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Colosseum." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (November 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/colosseum

"Colosseum." New Catholic Encyclopedia. . Retrieved November 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/colosseum

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.