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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).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



(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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

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.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
A life-size Roman Colisseum is the setting for four-horse chariot 'races', gladiatorial sword fights and and entrance for live lions and tigers - and you are part of the audience.
Notingham's excellent Seachange play at Coventry Colisseum tonight
Supporters partied outside the ruins of the city's Colisseum, the famous Roman gladiator arena.
The Scots model got the better of these three Roman gladiators in the shadow of the Colisseum.
HE would frequently pick spectators at the Colisseum to be dragged from benches and ordered to fight lions.
Which is why I hope the Italians come to Twickenham on Saturday determined to yank the lion's tail rather than as innocents paraded for slaughter in the Colisseum.
For all the bravado of Italy's Kiwi coach on the eve of England's first Six Nations clash in the Eternal City, the feeling persisted that it was the sort of hopeful speech a Christian might have made before entering the Colisseum at feeding time.
The show sets sail from Whitby where I caught up with the production at the revived Colisseum complex.
THRONG: Demonstrators gather outside United Nations headquarters in New York; VIEW: Mirrorman Wallace in New York; HANDCUFFED: A man is arrested in New York, where police faced strong criticism for heavyhanded and intimidating tactics on demonstrators; NEW YORK; ANGER: Protesters at the Colisseum; PROTEST: Pilger; UNITED: \Crowds pack into Madrid
I was driving round the city with (Italian player) Marcello Santi showing us all the sights, the Vatican was totally empty and we saw the Colisseum and the Trevi Fountain.
SATURDAY: Fever, The Kitchen, Dublin; Yum Yum Club, Nancy Spains, Cork; Bounce, The Colisseum, Waterford; Fresh & Funky, Horans, Tralee.
If necessary, Flatley will take painkillers to get him through his one-and-a-half hours on stage at the Colisseum Theatre, where tonight's audience will include Prince Charles, Elton John and Tina Turner.