The Colosseum Arena of Death
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How did the construction and subsequent use of the Flavian Amphitheater
effect the fortunes of the Flavian dynasty?
Table of Contents
Emperors and Politics of the Period.
Martials ÐOn the Spectacles and the opening of the Flavian Amphitheater
The Flavian Amphitheater
In this Extended Essay I will attempt to examine how the construction and subsequent use of the Flavian Amphitheater
in Rome effected the fortunes of the Flavian Dynasty. In chapter 1 I will examine the rise to power of Vespasian after Nero and the year of the four emperors, followed by Titus and Domition the other two emperors which make up the Flavian dynasty. I will discuss the collapse of the Flavian dynasty under Domitian and how his use of the Flavian Amphitheater
effected this. I will also discuss the building itself not only as a symbol of imperial power but as a propaganda coup for the administration In Chapter 2 I will discuss the Opening Games in the Flavian Amphitheater
and the effect this had on Romes people. I will also examine some of Martials Poems on the opening of the games as my primary source. This will give a general idea of the type of spectacle and atmosphere that would have been inside the Flavian Amphitheater
at this time. In my Third and final Chapter I will briefly discuss the effects the building itself had on Rome. The Flavian Ampitheater
s effect on the politics of the period and I will also talk about the political importance of public buildings in insuring a positive legacy for the emperors and what this spectacular amphitheater
did to effect the political fortunes of this dynasty in antiquity.
Chapter I. Emperors and Politics of the period.
After the reign of Nero which ended with his death in A.D. 68, eighteen months of civil unrest ensued, this period has come to be referred
to as the ÐYear of the four emperors. As we already know in this time it was not uncommon for an emperor to be placed on the throne by the Praetorian Guard. Hence four different armies set about placing their favourites on the throne. Galba was the first to attempt to march on Rome, when he arrived he found Nero dead and was greeted as the new emperor. However the Praetorian guard turned on him due to his lack of grace or charm. Another pretender to the throne appeared named Otho, a military commander in Lusitnaia. Galba had decided to step down and hand power to his good friend Piso, however Otho had other plans and had both Galba and Piso killed thus seizing
power. Now it was the turn of the legions of the Rhine. They mutinied and hailed Vitellius their new emperor. Vitellius marched on Rome confronting Otho near the river Po. Otho was routed and committed
suicide, Vitellius marched on to Rome as emperor. Another force entered the frame, lead by Vespasian and his son Titus, their legions based in Syria and Palestine. Vespasian was declared emperor by his legion who under the leadership of Mucanius marched on Rome. Legions still loyal to Otho joined him and he engaged Vitellius in Northern Italy.Vespasians loyal officer marched into the city where the senate proclaimed him emperor. At the moment Vespasian was busy annexing Egypt, avoiding direct confrontation with Vitelliuss forces.
Titus Flavius Vespasianus emerged victorious and the Flavian dynasty was born. Vespasian the new emperors and took it upon himself to reconstruct the ruined center of Rome and remind Romes people that the emperors were still there to serve them. The Flavian family were responsible for introducing stability back into the empire after a year which saw three emperors murdered. Vespasian was a very shrewd man: before his reign serving both the army and as well
as the political institutions of Rome with distinction. Romes imperial regime was safely restored and now it was time to ensure the masses realised this. Nero had monopolised space in Romes center with his hated gold house and it was time to give something back to the Roman people. Vespasian decided on the site previously occupied by the stagnum (pond) of Neros Domus Aurea (Suetonius, Vespasian IX)to construct what we now know today as the Colosseum. This building was to revolutionise the way Romans looked at Ampitheater
s. No longer would citizens be hoarded into temporary wooden structures on the outskirts of the city, but they would now have a grand building in the center of Rome to gather to enjoy the games and be reminded of their emperors generosity while they did this. , a place of pleasure for Romes citizens (Suetonius Vespasian 8). This was a very shrewd political gesture obliterating the memory of Nero and giving space once used for imperial luxury back to the people of Rome. The Flavian Amphitheathre was to be an ostentatious display of imperial power.
Vespasians vision for The Flavian Amphitheater
showed that once again Romes spoils of war did not belong to the emperors but to the people of Rome. The spoils referred
to inside the Colosseum are those from the crushing of the Jewish rebellion in Jerusalem .This magnificent haul of booty is represented in the famous relief panel on the Arch of Titus in Rome, a reminder of the triumphal procession of AD 71. It depicts golden tables and silver trumpets; on the second relief we can see a sevenÐ-branched candlestick. This booty was subsequently deposited in Vespasians Temple of Peace. Tituss Arch is positioned between the road to the Flavian Amphitheater
and the via Sacra and it was built after the ampitheater
in A.D. 81. Titus wanted to be remembered for the Amphitheater
and the position of this triumphal arch leaves him forever associated with the site. (Claridge, p.116). Also inside the Flavian amphitheater
a Latin inscription pieced together from dowelÐ-holes found under a later 5th centuary inscription can be reconstructed and translated