Now in paperback!
The Roman Colosseum was the work of a brilliant and energetic civilization. The Roman Colosseum was the work of a cruel and brutal civilization.
Both are true.
The Roman Colosseum was one of the most extraordinary buildings in the ancient world, a work of engineering genius whose design is imitated every time a modern stadium is built. Yet, what went on inside this building is difficult to comprehend.
Over the centuries, tens of thousands of slaves, prisoners of war, and criminals were slaughtered in the Colosseum for the entertainment of over 50,000 cheering fans. So many animals were destroyed in gruesome "hunts" staged in the arena that entire species disappeared from the Roman colonies of North Africa.
The Roman Colosseum interweaves the impressive story of the construction of this remarkable building and the sobering tale of the "games" that went on inside it. In doing so, it reveals an entire civilization in all its genius and its brutality.
Wonders of the World series
The winner of numerous awards, this series is renowned for Elizabeth Mann's ability to convey adventure and excitement while revealing technical information in engaging and easily understood language. The illustrations are lavishly realistic and accurate in detail but do not ignore the human element. Outstanding in the genre, these books are sure to bring even the most indifferent young reader into the worlds of history, geography, and architecture.
"One of the ten best non-fiction series for young readers."
Elizabeth Mann lives in New York City with her husband and their son, Lucas. Formerly a teacher in the New York City Public Schools, she holds an M.S.E. from Bank Street College of Education.
Michael Racz lives and works in New York City. He enjoys painting historical subjects, especially Civil War and World War II aviation themes. The Roman Colosseum is his first children's book.
Emperor Titus Flavius was stunned by the noise that filled the amphitheater as he rose to his feet and stepped to the front of his box. The animals, musicians, dancers, charioteers, and gladiators parading around the arena had received thunderous applause from the audience, but now the roar was even louder. Fifty thousand spectators howled with pleasure at the sight of the emperor, their host at this most lavish entertainment. Deafened, but very pleased, Titus slowly raised his hands in a salute to his subjects. Trumpets blared and the cheering echoed. The Flavian Amphitheater, the Colosseum, was officially open. The celebration, 100 days of festivities and entertainment, could begin.
Romans had their own ideas of what entertainment should be. Gymnastics and foot races, the kinds of athletic competitions favored in neighboring Greece, had never caught on in Rome. Stage plays, whether tragedy or comedy, seemed a tame reflection of life. To please a Roman audience, real blood had to be shed. Real people and animals had to die. Titus knew that, and he had planned spectacles for the opening of the amphitheater to satisfy the most demanding crowd.
The morning's entertainment began. Lions fought against elephants and enraged bulls. Trees, boulders, and other scenery appeared, transforming the arena into a woodland setting. Leopards were released and hunters pursued and killed them. Crocodiles, ostriches, boars, and elephants were slaughtered. Hours later the wild beast shows ended. The crowd talked excitedly during the pause for a midday meal. The best was still to come.
Again trumpets sounded, and a procession of gladiators entered the arena. They were welltrained and well-armed, the best that Rome's gladiatorial schools had to offer. As they stopped before the emperor's box, the crowd grew silent. The gladiators solemnly greeted Titus: "We who are about to die salute you."
Pair after pair of gladiators clashed in skilled hand-to-hand combat. They were fighting for their lives, and they fought furiously. The audience cheered them on. As corpses were dragged out through the Porta Libitina (Gate of the Dead) at the eastern end of the arena, more gladiators strutted in at the western end. Slaves raked fresh sand over the blood-soaked arena floor (arena comes from the Latin word for sand -- harena) and the combat continued.
When the last fight had ended, the few victorious gladiators were rewarded. Titus presented each with a palm branch -- symbol of victory -- and gold coins. The spectators, weary but satisfied, trailed out into the night. The first day was over. Ninety-nine more days lay ahead.