The Colosseum is the most famous example of a Roman amphitheatre and also the largest! The connection between competition, sport, and power is all up for grabs in this special collaboration between the Wonders Podcast and Dr G from our very own Partial Historians. You can hear it all here.
Enter Vespasian Stage Right
Vespasian comes from a middling political family, who made his name as a commander of troops. So how does he become emperor of a whole new dynasty? Dr G explains some of the political tensions that brings the Flavian family to the power.
Vespasian is a man from a reasonable, but not flashy background, and he inherits an empire in financial distress. Yet the very impressive Colosseum is part of his legacy. How does he acquire enough money to build the Colosseum? Dr G and Drew consider importance factors in his success: the conquest of Judaea and his control of Egypt.
It just so happens that Vespasian also comes from a family that specialise in tax-collection. And boy is he an innovator when it comes to raising cash! Drew explains some of the finer points of Roman taxation including the tax on urine… 🙂
Vespasian begins construction of the Colosseum, but he dies before it opens. His son Titus gets to take all the glory of inviting the people of Rome to experience this all new, all huge, amphitheatre!
Why do we call it the Colosseum?
The Romans called it the Flavian amphitheatre, so what’s going on? Drew and Dr G delve into the history of the name. This has some important implications for our understanding of the differences between the ancient topography of Rome and what remains today.
Who are these Gladiators?
Drew explores the connection between gladiatorial combat and the funeral practices of Campania. As the popularity of private gladiatorial increased over time, they increasingly moved out of the private sphere into the public spaces. Dr G and Drew explore the spectacle offered at the inaugural games at the Colosseum and the famous bout overseen by Titus.
Animals, criminals, gladiators – take your pick! They happen at different times and you can choose your time of day for the type of spectacle that takes your fancy.
Drew takes you a journey through some of the source material we have for gladiators including Juvenal. You can enjoy more on gladiators here.
Satisfy your appetite for the Wonders of the World by checking out Drew’s podcast. He goes beyond Rome and Europe to explores all the fair continents of this here Earth. All the details can be found at https://www.wonderspodcast.com/