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(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.A.D. 75, and completed by his son Titus in A.D. 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 gladiatorsgladiators
[Lat.,=swordsmen], in ancient Rome, class of professional fighters, who performed for exhibition. Gladiatorial combats usually took place in amphitheaters. They probably were introduced from Etruria and originally were funeral games.
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) 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).



(Amphitheatrum Flavium), a monument of ancient Roman architecture (A.D. 75–80).

The Colosseum is elliptical in plan, about 190 m long and 156 m wide. It includes an arena and four tiers of seats for spectators (about 50,000). The Colosseum was built for gladiatorial fights and other spectacles. Constructed of tufa, it had external walls faced with travertine. Inside, brick and concrete were used for the construction of the arched galleries, and the platforms were covered with marble. The statues and stucco decorations of the Colosseum have not been preserved. Outside, three tiers of arcades (Tuscan, Ionic, and Corinthian orders) and a crowning attic, articulated with flat pilasters, concealed the platforms and the labyrinth of the substructures of the arena. The majestic, grandiose Colosseum, with its powerfully rounded space and the rich plasticity of the arcades, is the most important of the Roman amphitheaters.


Tsires, A. G. Arkhitektura Kolizeia. Moscow, 1940.

colosseum, coliseum

colosseum, 1 showing seating and plan at various levels
1.(cap.) The Flavian amphitheater in Rome.
2. Any large Roman amphitheater.
3. Now, any large sports arena, open or roofed.