The Colosseum, though now a shadow of its former self, remains an architectural marvel and retains a sense of fascination for all, due to its connection with Rome's horrifyingly bloody past. More importantly, it was a smart political move to have the Colosseum built on the land that once belonged to Nero's Golden House, a monument to his excesses, which infuriated the Roman public. By building the Colosseum for use as a venue of public entertainment, Vespasian mollified the public. Much detail was given to the form as the amphitheatre was to cater for large crowds.
As mentioned in the block book, "[There was a good system of public access… ]" (40). It is evident that much thought was given to the design and layout of the Colosseum, without forgetting the class system of seating, with the best seats given to the Emperor and the noblemen. There were provisions for refreshments and shade, again mentioned in page 40 of the block book. The structure of the Colosseum was such that it fulfilled all three aspects of architecture as explained the Roman engineer Vitruvius, who mentioned, "[… to satisfy three requirements…
'commodity', 'firmness' and 'delight'. ]" (54). As such, the thought processes involved in building the permanent amphitheatre is obvious in the fact that parts of the Colosseum still remain standing today, as a standing ovation to the marvels of Roman architecture. Yet, attention was given to details to ensure that the Colosseum stood out. This can be seen in the minute details of the Grecian columns used which varied to give different appearances which served a purpose and yet, were pleasing to the eye, but were not an integral part of the structure.
The form of the Colosseum was advantageous for its public function as an arena for fighting and also its symbolic meaning which was a display of Roman power and at times, their violent tendencies. The Roman Games, infamously known as Gladiatorial games were public spectacles of violence and bloodshed. In that regard, I do not agree that the games were about justice being done. Instead, the games fed the spectators' thirst for blood and increased their bloodlust.
What began as a form of funeral offering by Marcus and Decimus Brutus in honour of their father, slowly but surely turned into a public mockery of senses with copious amounts of violence in the name of entertainment. A key point to note is the word, 'games'. The website, www. dictionary. com states that 'game' refers to 'an activity providing entertainment or amusement; a pastime', 'a competitive activity or sport in which players contend with each other according to a set of rules'. In the case of the Romans, there was no set of rules. It was a simple matter of whoever dies, loses.
But there was amusement for the spectators, which should explain the huge numbers of audiences. The quality of the people who took part attested to the depravity of these games. In fact, 'games' is too high an accolade. These were spectacles of brute force and perverted 'justice'. Slaves, out-of-luck men, criminals and prisoners-of-war, could they be called gladiators? Yes, they could but justice is and will never be received at the sharp end of the sword, an animal or a fellow human in view of countless eyes. It is barbaric and unjustifiable.
As the Resource book 1 points out, the gladiatorial games began to be associated with "[the public execution of criminal status, principally criminal slaves]" (104). Though public execution is related to justice, the manners of these executions were not related to how justice is commonly served. In addition, the concept of democratic justice as referred to in the Resource book 1 again, "[Gladiatorial games were ultimate democracy; the crowd decided who might live again. ]"(106), is also disagreeable as justice was meted out only if the crowd favours the victor.
In other cases, he too may be left to die or continue living a condemned life. Beyond criminals, the 'gladiators' were a condemned lot, sentenced to leading a life, by prostituting themselves in front of crowds. Even those who were free men, who turned to this lifeline, must have been degraded in life as resource book 1 implies "[… stress the utter degradation…. that might otherwise only be inflicted on a slave. ]"(106). No matter who took part, there was no justice as it was clear that the one who was stronger physically would triumph.
From the various readings in the block and resource books and other sources, the indications allude to the gladiatorial games, being nothing more than leisure activities or entertainments. In comparison, the modern day WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment Inc) is nothing less than the gladiatorial games. Both pander to the animalistic tendencies of the spectators who use these forms of amusement as a vent for frustrations. It is not possible for all humans to vent their frustrations on another human, but the select few who are able to do so, seem to do it on behalf of the masses.
They give their lives for it, though in some cases, their remuneration, then and now are handsome enough. In the olden days, the actual gladiators were trained solely for such performances and were accordingly given benefits. In addition, there was major financial backing. In short, it was a business, just like how it is now. So where is the justice? This is affirmed in the block book 2 via, "[… expressed qualms that the combats could degenerate into crude blood-letting. The philosopher Seneca…. saw few redeeming features….
the arena provided. "] (33). That was what the Roman games were all about- crude and aimless blood shed, with the audience egging the fighters on with taunts and insults. In contrast, such barbaric behaviour now would result in controversy and retaliations. However, in those times, people watched these events with no compassion for the condemned ones. If the games had remained what they originally were, i. e. funeral rites and displays of fighting skills, there would have been no degradation or necessity for justice to be meted out to anyone.
However, the decline of the games led to a public mockery of justice and in turn, what occurred was no longer about justice but about entertaining the masses. The methods and techniques employed to kill, to ascertain the death of the losers smack of pain and gore, not of justice. Not a single speck of humanity could be seen in how the games were conducted. Throwing humans to starved animals, slitting throats, branding the dead and injured with iron hot pokers are not indications of humanity or justice.
Despite all the blood and gore associated with the games, people still flocked to the shows in droves. However, the bottom line is straightforward. The Roman games were an ostentatious display of Roman power, strength and mainly, spectacles of violence. In that regard, the motion of justice being seen to be done is invalid. If it was indeed justice being dealt out, the games should not have deteriorated into lavish displays of wealth and the impressions left should not have been of scorn and contempt. Furthermore, the context of sexual appeal is never present in justice.
In this case, gladiators, albeit trained, were also sex symbols. In this regard, they can be compared to modern day WWE entertainers who embody mindless violence which is staged. Yet, people watch them with interest and profess undying loyalty. It is comparable to the Roman games as people reacted in the same way, as mentioned earlier, by crudely egging them on and demanding that more blood be shed. The Roman games were nothing more than mindless and cruel entertainment. There was no justice in the barbaric acts.