AR105 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Velarium, Awning, Gladiator

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November 22, 2017
Entertainment In the Roman World
The Snake Game
“If anyone has chanced to observe the snake game, in which young Septimius has shown his
skill, whether you are a spectator of the theatrical stage or a devotee of horses may you always
have balance equal to his everywhere.”
First appeared in Italy by the 4th century BCE
Provide entertainment in Roman society
Flavian Amphitheatre
Dedicated in 79 CE
Next to 100 foot colossal statue of emperor Nero
Thus, the nickname “The Colosseum”
Full capacity of approximately 50,000 people
Over 80 exits were present
To serve as a measure against too much sun, the structure did have an elaborate awning
system known as a velarium
Was attached to pillars on ground outside of structure
The actual competition surface had a series of elaborate rooms, cages, and elevators build
beneath it
What can the presence of amphitheatres in the eastern provinces tell us about the spread of
this activity?
In the Eastern provinces, amphitheatres appear mainly in these contexts:
1) Capital Cities
2) Roman Colonies
3) Cities with strong Roman presence
Alternatives to Amphitheatres
Does lack of amphitheatre at sites like Athens mean gladiatorial games were absent?
Athens: In mid 1st century, Theatre of Dionysus renovated (rededicated to Dionysus and
Roman style stage building constructed
Orchestra reworked to accommodate gladiatorial games
Theatre of Dionysus:
New orchestra brought closer to audience and raised
Marble barrier around orchestra thinner, shorter than most theatres
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