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home : blogs_old : tone's book zone March 26, 2015

Tone's Book Zone
By Sue Tone
A blog for readers and book lovers. Postings will include information on book festivals, library activities, local authors, classroom visits, book groups, writing and publishing tips, reviews, bookmakers and bookmaking, and how volunteers can help children and adults acquire a love of reading.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Coliseum still looks the same

 by Sue Tone

Back from a two-week stay in Italy, I have some photo comparisons to share, along with journal entries, from 1897 and 2012.

If you remember from my last post, I was transcribing the journal my great-grandfather wrote during his three-month trip through Europe. He wrote this about his visit on May 25, 1897, to the Coliseum, also spelled Colosseum:

"This morning we took a cab for the Colosseum and were soon at that most stupendous of buildings. We went in to the arena and thought of the bloodshed, carnage and martyrdom of thousands those immense walls had witnessed. We saw the dens and vaults under the arena and ascended up to the top of the fourth story and yet this immense wall on the east and north sides towered far above us.

"It is a sad ruin. Mighty and yet despoiled of its choicest materials, for centuries serving as a quarry for emperors, kings, popes and nobles for castle, palace or church. Holes have been made in the stone and masonry to extract the iron which was very valuable in the middle ages.

"This was the largest theatre in the world and had seats for 50,000 people. It was completed by the Emperor Titus in A.D. 80, and during its inauguration of 100 days, 5,000 wild animals were killed in gladiatorial combats. It was a third of a mile around, and 157 feet high. It is so immense that one does not appreciate its size until seen from above and below and at a distance. We saw the pedestal, or ruins of one, for the gigantic monument Nero erected to his own honor."

In Prescott, Ariz., finding a century-old building is pretty rare. Try placing your hands on columns and walls that have been standing for nearly 2,000 years. I walked all the way around the inside of the "event center," up the stairs and down. I found its age and the preciseness of architecture most amazing.

The Coliseum's history of gladiator versus wild animal is pretty gory and cruel, and I don't like thinking about it. However, according to Wikipedia, the "fact" that Christians were thrown to the lions is not accurate. That never happened.

Historical background from the website states: "In 1749, Pope Benedict XIV endorsed as official Church policy the view that the Colosseum was a sacred site where early Christians had been martyred. He forbade the use of the Colosseum as a quarry and consecrated the building to the Passion of Christ and installed Stations of the Cross, declaring it sanctified by the blood of the Christian martyrs who perished there. However there is no historical evidence to support Benedict's claim, nor is there even any evidence that anyone prior to the 16th century suggested this might be the case; the Catholic Encyclopedia concludes that there are no historical grounds for the supposition."

Back to the 1897 and 2012 photos. I wonder whatever happened to that broken column that rested in the middle of what is now a very busy street. How did people move it? Where did it go?

Reader Comments

Posted: Saturday, November 24, 2012
Article comment by: Gini Norgard

Most interesting. Lucky you to have a relative keep such a journal and pictures. Great that you could walk where they walked.

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