Obrázky na stránke

on those which form the exterior : they are supposed to indicate the position of each in the building.

In the centre of the interior was the open space called the arena, so called from its being strewed with fine sand. It was here that were given the combats of gladiators and wild beasts which formed the principal amusement of the Roman people. The cavea, or the part destined for the spectators, was divided into three parts: the podium, the mæniana, and the porticoes. The podium was a platform raised above the arena, which it encircled, and was sufficiently high to place the spectators out of reach of the wild beasts. It included the places destined for the emperor, the senators, the principal magistrates, the vestal virgins, the prætors, the exhibitor of the games (editor), and for persons of distinction. The seats (gradus) were wider than the others, so as to receive movable chairs (subsellia). At the minor axis of the arena were the two more important boxes, one called cubiculum, for the emperor, on the south side; the other, on the opposite side, editoris tribunal, for the consuls, for the prætor who presided over the games, and for the person who exhibited them. These boxes were also called pulvinar and suggestum. Above the podium were the gradus, or seats, for the other spectators, which were divided into mæniana or stories. The first mænianum was appropriated to the equestrian order. Then, after a horizontal space, termed præcinctio, and forming a continued landingplace from the several staircases which opened on to it, succeeded the second menianum, where were the seats called popularia, for the third class of spectators or the populace. Behind the precinctio rose a low wall, called balteus, which separated the different тепіана. The openings from the staircases and corridors on to their landing-places or præcinctiones, were designated by the appropriate term vomitoria. Behind the second mænianum was the second præcinctio, above which was the third mænianum where there were only wooden benches for the pullati, or common people. The open gallery or portico at the top was the only part of the amphitheatre in which women were permitted to witness the games. The seats of the mæniana were divided into portions called cunei, from their wedge-like shape, by short flights of stairs, which facilitated access to the seats. The contrivance by which the spectators were protected from the overpowering heat of the sun was called velum or velarium. This was a vast extent of canvas, which was supported by masts fixed into the outer wall, as previously mentioned. Sailors were employed for the purpose of ascending the masts and straining the canvas. According to Publius Victor, 87,000 persons could be accommodated in the seats, and some consider it probable that 20,000 more could have found places above. According, however, to a calculation which Mr. Fergusson has made, allowing four square feet for each spectator, the amphitheatre might contain 50,000 spectators at one time.

We now come to a more detailed description of the arena. It was of an elliptical form, the major axis being 287 feet, the minor 180 feet. There were four principal entrances at the extremities of the major and minor axes. The whole was bounded by the podium, of a sufficient height to guard the spectators against any danger from the wild beasts. There has

[graphic][merged small]

been much discussion with regard to the original level of the arena, as substructures have been lately discovered which support the present level of the arena, while there appears to have been another arena 21 feet below the level of the present one.

My impression with regard to these two arenas is, that the Stagnum Neronis was made use of when the amphitheatre was first erected by Vespasian, and that the lower level or floor of the Stagnum, which was dug out for a naumachia by Nero, was made the first arena, which was thus placed 21 feet below the present level, the original pavement of which still remains. It is of brick, arranged in herring-bone fashion (opus spicatum). There the gladiatorial shows and naval combats took place in the time of. Titus. Suetonius tells us that on the dedication of the amphitheatre, Titus gave a naval battle in the old naumachia (the former Stagnum Neronis), and in the same place also (ibidem et) he gave an exhibition of gladiators. Afterwards it was found that the level of the arena was too low, and the gladiatorial combats too far out of the sight of the spectators. The level was raised by building substructures in the centre of the arena, and so its level was raised to its present height. This may, perhaps, have been done in the reign of Domitian, who is said to have completed the amphitheatre; or perhaps in that of Trajan, who made extensive additions to the existing features of the city ; certainly before the time of Commodus, when the arena was undoubtedly at its present level. Herodian informs us that in the reign of Commodus wild animals were seen to spring out of the ground in the amphitheatre. On one occasion 100 lions sprung up at the same moment. Now this could have only taken place in the second arena, as there are several trap-doors in its area. The first or original arena was on the solid ground. One fact is evident, that the substructures of the arena did not form part of the original building. They must be of a date later than the time of Titus. Under the second arena, or present level, there were eight ambulacra, three of which followed the elliptical curve of the building, while the four narrower ones in the middle were parallel to the

[graphic][ocr errors][subsumed][ocr errors][merged small]

major axis of the ellipse. The central ambulacrum extended from end to end. Between the side ambulacra were small chambers, on the top of which were square openings. At the side of these chambers are grooves, in which ran the lists employed to raise the animals and make them appear suddenly in the middle

« PredošláPokračovať »