Roman Colosseum—Arena of Spectacle and Blood Sport

The Roman Colosseum, an engineering and aesthetic marvel fixed into visible form during the height of the Roman Empire, has a magnificent history which just so happens to be sullied as well.  Originally called the Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum hosted all sorts of entertainment.  The Roman leadership seriously desired to keep its citizenry happy and content via entertainment and structures like the Colosseum could be found throughout the realm to fulfill those desires.  Known for their eclectic appropriation of forms and aesthetic ideas, the Roman’s taped into the power of a Hindu proverb in the final design of the Flavian Amphitheater:  “The arch never sleeps”

What are your thoughts on this Hindu proverb within the context of the Roman Colosseum (Flavian Amphitheater)as a form that is enabled to sustain itself and thus never sleep?

Roman Colosseum (aka Flavian Amphitheater)

 

Published by: roberttracyphd

Academic professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. I teach theory courses in Art and Architecture History. In addition, I also curate exhibitions on campus as well as in other venues nationally and internationally.

18 Comments

18 thoughts on “Roman Colosseum—Arena of Spectacle and Blood Sport”

  1. That is an interesting Hindu proverb, and it is simply put. With a good foundation, the Romans have discovered new ways to engineer, and found that creating something one of a kind could have facilitate self-efficiency. My interpretation of the quote is that one of the prominent features of the Colosseum, are the arches. This, along with the pillars cemented and structural genius, continually holds for thousands of years. And I think that is what the Romans enjoyed about the conceptions of entertainment and the industry. Their civilization had a large demand on architecture and to this day we have utilized the formal construction within urban development. ( I. e. Las Vegas, A.K.A. the city that never sleeps.)

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  2. The arches that were used throughout the Roman Empire projected an image of strength and permanence. They were meant to last forever. I am certain that the Romans expected (or at least desperately hoped) that their empire would also last forever. This might be the reason why their arches are built to be so sturdy. It might also be the reason why arches formed a major part of their architecture. The structures that were important to the empire (e.g. aqueducts) were built using arches. The Flavian Amphitheater was an integral part of Roman culture; it kept the citizenry satisfied. For that reason, it should be obvious that the Romans would use their most sturdy form of architecture in the design of their massive Colosseum. Clearly, it must have worked. The Flavian Amphitheater, being composed of a system of arches, is still mostly intact today.

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  3. The Hindu proverb “the arch never sleeps” is very appropriate for not just the design of the Flavian Amphitheater, but also for the Roman Empire itself. It seems that the Empire was one that “never slept” – constantly advancing and making its mark on the territories it conquered, refining processes and efficiencies to ensure its continued dominance. The Flavian Amphitheater also seemed to “never sleep” – with 100 days of games at its opening and continued use for blood sports to entertain the Roman citizens. The arch sustains itself through the transfer of weight to strong columns – never “sleeping” – for me, this is the perfect analogy for the strength and might of the Roman Empire.

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  4. Here in Las Vegas we are known as the city that never sleeps, we have clubs and casinos that don’t close until the sunrises, and hundreds of events and shows in between. When we look at the Colosseum it was only open for 100 days but that single building will be remembered throughout history. During its height, the Colosseum was the most significant source of entertainment for those in the area, so I feel like locals would not have to try to go anywhere else to find entertainment. They could always assume that something interesting was going on there. I think the proverb’s use when finishing the design of the Colosseum was made a reality throughout all the success the theater had. I also believe it’s uninterrupted time spent on this planet has really solidified the statement as well

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  5. The Colosseum was the largest amphitheater in Roman Empire. The architects purposefully used arches to make the colosseum’s stronger. The colosseum has survived large crowds of people during it is lifespan. This beautiful arches represented new technology. The arch was also used for its designed.

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  6. “The arch never sleeps” is a perfect proverb to describe the Roman Colosseum. While the structures purpose as an amphitheater for a multitude of games is well-known, the eternal beauty and strength the arch exudes further makes the proverb relavent. Even after the fall of the Roman Empire, the Colosseum continues to stand for thousands of years. Buildings in the present day usually stay up for around thirty years and undergo renovation, but the Roman Colosseum continues to stand strong to remind people of its powerful past. Knowing that the colosseum, albeit a little bit battered, is still standing, it shows how it “never sleeps”, continuing to remind us of the past.

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  7. I think the Hindu proverb was well suited for describing the way the Romans wanted to be viewed at the height of their empire. The quote calls special attention to the role of the arch, which in relation to architecture, it was considered to be one of the strongest ways to support or hold up a structure. The Romans also considered themselves to be a civilization upon which other civilizations could learn and build from once the submitted to roman rule. Furthermore, the colosseum itself has an exterior and interior filled with arches. When they built the amphitheater, they did so to provide entertainment, and bolster comradery amongst its citizens. This supports the idea that in building the arch filled colosseum, the roman government was symbolically making a commitment to never rest in their efforts to serve them.

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  8. I think that it is very interesting that they decided to carve a hindu proverb within the walls of the amphitheater. It is even more interesting to try and imagine why they chose the words “the arch never sleeps.” Maybe like this beautifully lit city it never rests. There are always some form of function taking place in the streets of Las Vegas. This city was designed to be in continuous usage. Maybe this was the purpose for the design of the colosseum. You can also tell that the romans thought passed the present future. They wanted to build a structure their people could enjoy for eternity. I believe that this thought of mind is why the colosseum still exists to this day. The proverb not only stands for constant use but the arch will never rest and it will exist for the many decades to come.

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  9. I feel this Hindu proverb rings true within the context of the Roman Colosseum. In it’s prime, it was the center of entertainment for the Romans, some sort of spectacle was always taking place to keep the public entertained, so in that sense it was always ‘alive’ and constantly in use. Now, even though it is not used for public events, you can go to the Colosseum and feel it’s history and importance, giving it a sense of life today.

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  10. I hate to repeat all the comments, but the concept of not sleeping and the Colosseum pertains to the structural security of the piece. As we have seen in a lot of Greece-roman architecture the artists and builders have perfected the arches and domes in them being self supporting using gravity to distribute the weight evenly between pillars. This creates an arch that never crumbles and there for never sleeps.

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  11. What a perfect proverb to describe the Roman Colosseum “The arch never sleeps.” For, which this structure is well known for its games, the relation of architecture, the arch which held up the structure was considered one of the strongest ways to support the Colosseum, it was the center of entertainment for Romans, they through spectacular events giving that sense of it being “alive.” Since, being closed for any public events, you can visit the colosseum and feel all the energy left behind, bring it back to life.

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  12. In civil engineering, arches are one of the more difficult, yet strongest, forms of building stability. In the case of the Roman Colosseum, arches, stacked three stories high, are a primary feature of the structure. They are the base of the structure and hold each floor above it, showing how strong the arches have to be to be the main structural feature. After all the top of the Colosseum is no longer composed of arches since there is nothing above them. The Hindu “The arch never sleeps” refers to the Roman Colosseum’s build. Even when the Colosseum was not being used for entertainment for the masses, it still stood high and mighty. Today the Roman Colosseum serves as a tourist spot where the amphitheater and arches still stand (although, not completely). The arch and the proverb’s inspiration show how the Romans had strived for perfection in their architecture and the ability for their creation to sustain through time and thus never sleep.

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  13. It’s a very interesting thing that one culture can relate to another through arts and architecture. The Hindu proverb is fitting to the design of the Colosseum as since the moment the arches were built, they have never taken rest. Since that time when they began to exist on this planet until this moment, the arches continue to hold up the structure of the building. They are like arms of a very powerful person that is trying to hold up all that mass of concrete and around 50,000 people on top of that. It must never sleep because until now, the building looks alive and one can imagine the energy that revolved around the place when it was just built and was actively being used. Some people believe that inanimate objects or structure can hold energy left by humans. Looking at the Amphitheater through photos sort of gives this sense and I’m sure seeing it in person must be astonishing.

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  14. Regarding the Colosseum, the Hindu proverb, “The arch never sleeps” is such a seamless depiction of its era. First, and perhaps most obviously, the Colosseum pays homage to the classic Grecian/Roman style of architecture with its many arches and post and lintel pattern. Not only this, but the idea of the endless entertainment that took place in its’ day epitomizes an idea that we are very familiar with even now— and especially here in Las Vegas – that lends to all around entertainment, at any cost, to any severity, being the goal.

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  15. The Roman Colosseum is Rome’s most prominent landmarks and for this particular architect to be associated with the Hindu proverb: “The Arch never sleeps” reminds me of New York City, the city that never sleeps. The Flavian Amphitheater hosted gladiatorial contests, wild animal fights, and all sort of activities for the entertainment of their people despite it being gruesome most of the time. In similarity with New York, lots of nightlife activities with most restaurants being 24/7, and a subway system that does not close, created for the interest and homes of many New Yorkers. In addition, the concept of not sleeping applies to the Roman Colosseum in which it provided the people of Rome the lifestyle they needed that sustained its territory, thus, the arch that never sleeps since it is always working to improve. Meanwhile, New York being so busy and hectic with no time to rest/sleep has a nightlife all on its own.

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  16. The proverb makes sense, because while there probably were not events 24/7, there were I assume always workers and maintainers making sure the Colosseum was ready for the next day. Whether that came from having to ready it to flood it with water for naval reenactments to filling it with sand for the next gladiator match. The gladiators also might have had to be practicing their techniques, along with all the events. There had to always have been activity going on at the Colosseum. Just looking at how Las Vegas never sleeps, whether it is in the casinos or the many convention centers getting ready for the next event. The Colosseum would have had to always have activity from repairing and fixing to getting ready for the events.

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  17. Hindu proverb “the arch never sleeps” is exactly what the Colosseum should be defined as. Because the Roman Colosseum was built by the Roman to last forever and “never sleep.” Also the meaning of the “sleep” was focusing in the roman culture as a whole since they were one of the civilization where they were advancing every day with their technology as wells as art technique & style.

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  18. Of course when the Flavian Amphitheater was used as an actual amphitheater, it was a bustling site for many Romans to visit. Though, even when the arches were not openly welcoming visitors for an event, it was still posing as an important figure in Rome. It is an amazing feat of concrete construction to create the colosseum. This amazing accomplishment and adornment was done to openly serve as a visual icon for passerbys. If the colosseum was just to function as a simple amphitheater, there would be no need to make it so beautiful on the outside, but the decorative columns that adorn the outside of the Flavian Amphitheater create an optical experience that “never sleeps”.

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