Colosseum Rome Italy about 1892

EXTERIOR OF THE COLOSSEUM, ROME — Anticipate what you will, this edifice will not disappoint you. All things considered, nothing in Rome can equal it in grandeur. Its walls are more than 200 feet in height. It is said to have been built by 60,000 captive Jews after the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus. Close by it is a ruined fountain at which the gladiators washed after the combat, surrounded no doubt by a gaping crowd, and petted and admired by effeminate patricians, who with their soft white hands patted the brawny muscles of the athletes and offered wagers on their next success. The corridors of the Colosseum reveal to us huge blocks of stone, placed there apparently by the hands of giants, yet fastened with no cement. There was no danger here of panic, fire, or collapse. In fact, woe to the man who trifled with the public in those days! One architect, Attitius by name, did try it once, and made a flimsily constructed wooden edifice, which fell, occasioning great loss of life. Tacitus tells of the catastrophe, and then relates the builder’s punishment in three short words, which ought to be inscribed above the door of every wretchedly built theatre in the world; they are these: “Attitius was burned!” For more than 400 years this was the scene of sanguinary gladiatorial combats, and frequently of Christian martyrdom. The arena of this amphitheatre has therefore long been looked on by the Christian church as consecrated ground. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

Colosseum Interior Rome Italy about 1892

INTERIOR OF THE COLOSSEUM, ROME — This is indeed the King of Ruins. Around it are eighty mighty arches leading to this interior. The 87,000 people who were often seated here could find abundant means of entrance and of exit. One might suppose that all the pictures he had seen of the interior of the Colosseum would leave no room for astonishment. But neither word nor photograph quite prepares one for the grand reality. These rows of ruined arches, rising in a gigantic circle towards the sky, are overpowering in their immensity. The countless doorways seem like caverns in a mountain side, from which wild beasts might even now emerge. Those who beheld this twenty years ago would hardly recognize the interior of the Colosseum as it now appears. Around the sides were formerly little chapels dedicated to the memory of Christian Martyrs who had here found death. Here every Friday afternoon a sermon would be preached, teaching how much the Christian faith once cost, yet how that faith has lived and triumphed over Caesarian Rome. But now the greater part of the arena has been opened to the light. One sees the subterranean cages for the animals, the corridors through which they rushed to the arena, and the apartments where the gladiators waited till called to duty, probably to death. Gigantic as it is, almost as much of the Colosseum seems to have disappeared as still remains. In the fourteenth century it was looked upon as a legitimate quarry from which to extract building material. Four thousand workmen were at one time employed in tearing down its walls, and some of the largest palaces of Rome were thus constructed. (from John L. Stoddard, Glimpses of the world; a portfolio of photographs of the marvelous works of God and man – 1892)

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