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A Monument to Dynasty and Death: The Story of Rome's Colosseum and the Emperors Who Built It

Nathan T. Elkins



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Johns Hopkins University Press
15 September 2019
History; Classical history & classical civilisation
Early one morning in 80 CE, the Colosseum roared to life with the deafening cheers of tens of thousands of spectators as the emperor, Titus, inaugurated the new amphitheater with one hundred days of bloody spectacles. These games were much anticipated, for the new amphitheater had been under construction for a decade. Home to spectacles involving exotic beasts, elaborate executions of criminals, gladiatorial combats, and even-when flooded-small-scale naval battles, the building itself was also a marvel. Rising to a height of approximately 15 stories and occupying an area of 6 acres-more than four times the size of a modern football field-the Colosseum was the largest of all amphitheaters in the Roman Empire.

In A Monument to Dynasty and Death, Nathan T. Elkins tells the story of the Colosseum's construction under Vespasian, its dedication under Titus, and further enhancements added under Domitian. The Colosseum, Elkins argues, was far more than a lavish entertainment venue: it was an ideologically charged monument to the new dynasty, its aspirations, and its achievements.

A Monument to Dynasty and Death takes readers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the Colosseum from the subterranean tunnels, where elevators and cages transported gladiators and animals to the blood-soaked arena floor, to the imperial viewing box, to the amphitheater's decoration and amenities, such as fountains and an awning to shade spectators. Trained as an archaeologist, an art historian, and a historian of ancient Rome, Elkins deploys an interdisciplinary approach that draws on contemporary historical texts, inscriptions, archaeology, and visual evidence to convey the layered ideological messages communicated by the Colosseum. This engaging book is an excellent resource for classes on Roman art, architecture, history, civilization, and sport and spectacle.
By:   Nathan T. Elkins
Imprint:   Johns Hopkins University Press
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm,  Spine: 12mm
Weight:   249g
ISBN:   9781421432557
ISBN 10:   1421432552
Series:   Witness to Ancient History
Pages:   184
Publication Date:   15 September 2019
Audience:   College/higher education ,  Primary
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Prologue. Opening Day at the Colosseum I. The Rise of a New Dynasty II. A Modern Amphitheater in Ancient RomeIII. An Amphitheater in the Heart of RomeIV. A Hundred Days of GamesV. The Colosseum and Its First Games in Flavian Art and LiteratureEpilogue. The End of the Flavian AmphitheaterAcknowledgmentsNotesSuggested Further ReadingIndex

Nathan T. Elkins is an associate professor of art history and the director of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Achievement at Baylor University. He is the author of Monuments in Miniature: Architecture on Roman Coinage and The Image of Political Power in the Reign of Nerva, AD 96-98.

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