27: The Colosseum

They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy)

Hebrews 11:37-38

After the conquering of Jerusalem in 70AD Vespian used some of the spoils of war and the captured Jewish slaves to erect one of the most magnificent buildings of the ancient world, the Roman Colosseum. The word Colsseum is connected to the Colossus and is therefore descriptive of the sheer size of the place.

The Colosseum was essentially a stadium, where 50,000 could gather for the great shows and spectacles of the Roman world. The people sat in tiers according to their place in society. The Emperor, the Vestal Virgins, the senators, the wealthy citizens, the poor ciitizens and the slaves all had their place. They gathered to watch the gladiators fight to the death or wild animals being slaughtered where the arena was decorated with trees, fields ect.. to mimic a real hunt. Animals were imported from across the world and brought to Rome for this very purpose; as rhinoceros, hippopotamuses, e elephants, giraffes, aurochs, wisents, Barbary lions, panthers,leopards, bears, Caspian tigers, crocodiles and ostriches. Trajan celebrated his victory at Dacia with contests involving 11,000 anmals and 10,000 gladiators over 123 days. Even great sea battles were renacted in the arena, although historians have never been able to figure out how the area was flooded sufficiently to float warships.

Among the spectacles that the Roman crowds paid to see at the Colosseum were the martyrdom of Christians, covered in animal skins and thrown to the lions. In mediaval times it is said that a guide who was showing the vistors around the Colosseum was asked about the relics of these former days when Christians suffered and died in this place. The guide replied:

Gather the dust from the Colsseum, it is all martyrs

Sketches from Church History; S.M. Houghton
The baying crowds spewing their venom
At bloodied Christians refusing to bend,
The snarling beasts, hungry and fierce-some
Devouring Christians, faithful to the end.

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