Pompeii’s controversial amphitheatre

When I picture an amphitheatre, it is a semi-circular , stone construction, nuzzled into a hillside. It is for art’s sake. It’s a destination at the end of a pagan, religious procession through an ancient city state and back to nature. Back to the gods . It is where ancient dramatic offerings were the apotheosis of festivities. It never occurred to me that an amphitheatre was other than this. So U learnt something new last year researching Asia Minor, when I read that orations were given in the amphitheatre in Ephesus and today, I’ve learnt that Roman amphitheatre’s were not necessarily open semi-circles, outside of the city state. They were not purely for religious edification or art even. Thanks to Robert Horvat’s post, I have learnt …

Rearview Mirror

Pompeian_mural_depicting_the_Amphitheatre_riots

In an article I wrote towards the end of last year on the lost cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, I made a passing comment about how impressive many of Pompeii’s public buildings and structures were and how amazing it was that they survived beneath a mountain of rock and volcanic ash. Excavation over the last few hundred years revealed many of these wonderful buildings including Pompeii’s amphitheatre.

Sports and games in the form of gladiatorial combat was almost a prerequisite to any self-respecting city including a provisional city such as Pompeii. So began an obsession to build one of the first stone amphitheatres during the reign of Sulla. It is believed that the impressive  structure was initially built for Sulla’s 5,000 veterans and their families. An inscription on the amphitheatre dates its completion around about 70 BC that even predates the Colosseum in Rome by a little over a hundred…

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