Dear Classical Wisdom Kids,
It’s been a busy week! We’ve been trying to take in all the sights and sounds... in constant cold rain... but that’s okay.
We are armed with one old red umbrella, one warm raincoat (for Frida), and one raincoat that doesn’t work very well. Oops. We were clearly more optimistic about the weather when packing...
But this makes us wonder: what did the ancients do when it rained a lot? We know the women used parasols for sun... but did they use something similar when it was wet? Did their feet get sopping in the sandals? Did they stay inside? Or did they still go out to big events at the Colosseum?
I’m not sure, but I will say the Colosseum in the rain was beautiful! It almost looked like it was snowing (above). So, without getting drenched, please enjoy this week’s Classical Wisdom Kids story on the world’s largest and greatest amphitheater.
Members, we have a fun ‘Snacks and Scramble’ games and activities below, as well as an in-depth “Go Further” section, for those of you who want to learn even more about this famous structure.
All the best,
Founder and Director
Classical Wisdom and Classical Wisdom Kids
Classical Wisdom Kids is a reader-supported publication. To support our project and unlock ALL our growing resources, join our Classical Wisdom Kids Club today:
The Colosseum: A Symbol of Glory
There are a lot of amazing structures built by the ancient Romans, but the most famous of them all is the Colosseum. It is the largest amphitheater, or open air theater, ever built. It was created for large performances and events, especially for the Gladiator games.
The Colosseum was built in 72 AD by the Emperor Vespasian. It took 10 years to build. Sadly Vespasian didn’t see it completed because he died one year before it was finished. Fortunately his son Titus finished it. When it was done, he threw a huge party that lasted 100 days!
Vespasian’s second son, Domitian, added to the Colosseum. He built a fourth floor on top as well as the Hypogeum, which was like a maze under the stage. There were lots of underground rooms where they had animals, performers and workers. They used lots of tunnels, ancient elevators and trapdoors to go to different parts of the stage from underground. It was very dark there, with only smoky oil lanterns to light the way.
Later an awning, which is like a big umbrella, was added. It covered a large section of the bleachers to give shade and protect people from the sun.
The Emperor Vespasian started the Flavian dynasty, which means Vespasian and his two sons ruled the Roman empire for 27 years. As a result, the Colosseum was actually called the “Flavian Amphitheater.” People only started calling it the Colosseum 700 years later.
The Colosseum is very large. It could have almost 90,000 people inside. Where people sat was very important. The best view had special boxes for the Emperor to sit in... as well as the special priestesses of the Goddess Vesta. On either side of them on the same level sat the Senators. They were allowed to bring chairs.
The level above was for the Nobles and Knights and the level above that was for the ordinary citizens, called Plebeians.
The top level was built for women and slaves. Some groups, however, were never allowed into the Colosseum. These included gravediggers, former gladiators and, of course, actors.
In 217 AD,
Watch with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to Classical Wisdom Kids to watch this video and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.