The Roman Amphitheatre: From its Origins to the Colosseum

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This is the first book to analyze the evolution of the Roman amphitheatre as an architectural form. Katherine Welch addresses the critical period in the history of this building type: its origins and dissemination under the Republic, from the third to first centuries BC; its monumentalization as an architectural form under Augustus; and its canonization as a building type with the Colosseum (AD 80). She explores the social and political contexts of each of these phases in detail. The study then shifts focus to the reception of the amphitheatre and the games in the Greek East, a part of the Empire that was, initially, deeply fractured about the new realities of Roman rule.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Colosseum, more than any other building from ancient Rome, is routinely the subject of both scholarly and popular texts. While it seems that important studies are published on this structure every year, rarely does any attain the status of definitive text. Katherine Welch’s The Roman Amphitheatre: From Its Origins to the Colosseum is such a book. Welch’s splendid volume is a culmination of her amphitheatre studies and provides a much-needed examination of the building type’s origins in Republican Rome and its development up to and including the Colosseum."
-Thomas J. Morton, The Art Bulletin
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521809443
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 9/30/2007
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 6.85 (w) x 9.72 (h) x 1.06 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine E. Welch is Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. She is a scholar of Roman art and archaeology and has held fellowships at the American Academy in Rome and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Illustrations xi

Abbreviations xix

Preface xxi

Introduction 1

The 'Imperial' Interpretation of Arena Games 5

Chapter 1 Arena Games During the Republic 11

Origins of Gladiatorial Combat 11

The Osco-Samnite Hypothesis 11

The Etruscan Hypothesis 14

Gladiatorial Games during the Republican Period 18

The Venatio and Damnatio ad Bestias in the Republican Period 22

Other Forms of the Death Penalty 26

The Arena and the Roman Army 27

Conclusion 28

Chapter 2 Origins of Amphitheatre Architecture 30

The Setting of Gladiatorial Games at Rome during the Republic: The Forum Boarium and Forum Romanum 30

Evidence for Spectator Arrangements in the Forum Romanum in the Republican Period 31

The Middle Republic 32

The Late Republic 38

The Shape and Form of the Seating Construction ("Spectacula") in the Forum Romanum 43

Constructional Aspects of the Spectacula in the Forum Romanum 55

Conclusion 71

Chapter 3 Stone Amphitheatres in the Republican Period 72

The Amphitheatre and Sullan Colony at Pompeii 74

Army Training and Gladiatorial Combat: 105 BC and After 79

Geographical Distribution and Dating of Republican Amphitheatres 82

The Ludi of Capua 91

The Transition from Wood to Stone 91

The Amphitheatre and Campus at Pompeii 95

Conclusion 100

Chapter 4 The Amphitheatre Between Republic and Empire: Monumentalization of the Building Type 102

Decoration of the Facades of Early-Imperial Amphitheatres: The Tuscan Order 102

A Higher Order of Killing: Statilius Taurus and Rome's First Stone Amphitheatre 108

Conclusion 126

Chapter 5 The Colosseum: Canonization of the Amphitheatre Building Type 128

TheInnovation of the Colosseum's Facade: Greek Architectural Orders and Sculptural Decoration 130

Cultural Repertoire of Amphitheatre Games under the Empire: 'Fabulous' Executions 145

The Colosseum and Nero's Domus Aurea 147

Conclusion 161

Chapter 6 Reception of the Amphitheatre in the Greek World in the Early Imperial Period 163

Athens 165

Corinth 178

Conclusion 183

Conclusion 186

Appendix: Amphitheatres of Republican Date 189

Architectural Characteristics of Republican Amphitheatres 189

Republican Amphitheatres in Italy 192

Republican Amphitheatres Outside of Italy 252

Notes 265

Bibliography 329

Index 351

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