Colosseum: amphitheater of ancient Rome


The great Flavian amphitheater of ancient Rome, said to be so named from the colossal statue of Nero that stood close by in the Via Sacra. It was begun by Vespasian in 72 A. D., and, for 400 years, was the scene of the gladiatorial contests. The ruins remaining are still colossal and extensive, but quite two-thirds of the original building have been taken away at different times and used for building material.

Byron, adapting the exclamation of the 8thcentury pilgrims (and adopting a bad spelling), says:

While stands Coliseum, Rome shall stand; When falls the Coliseum, Rome shall fall: And when Rome falls--the world.

Childe Harold, IV. cxlv.

The name has since been applied to other amphitheaters and places of amusement.

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