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on 5 August 2017
This is such an engaging read! It's a short book (but long enough to cover just about everything you thought you wanted to know) - debunks many myths, and raises all sorts of questions. It also contains a reference to one of the world's greatest farts.

What more could you want? Essential reading for anyone interested in Ancient Rome, or about to visit the Colosseum.
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on 20 May 2017
I read this after reading Mary Beardsley's SPQR and acquiring a taste for all things Roman. I agree with some of the more critical reviews, but still found it an engaging and informative read, so don't regret buying it.
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on 7 September 2017
An excellent history of the Colosseum from its construction, with some myths dismantled along the way. Will entice you to visit if you haven't already.
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on 11 April 2017
An informative and excellently well written book
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on 20 June 2017
Great book
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on 28 June 2006
Picked up this book as I'm studying the Colosseum for a college course and what a find it is! Written in an engaging style without becoming too dry or academic, the book tells you not only about the structure itself and the incredible feat achieved in building it but also about the background of gladiatorial contests in the Roman empire and how the games fitted into Roman society. An effort has been made to include recent finds and theories about the Colosseum and many widely believed myths are "busted" too (Christians v Lions?), there is also some discussion about how this ruin has influenced later peoples (such as Byron and nineteenth century novelists).

The book is illustrated with some clear diagrams and pictures of paintings, graffito, and even an Asterix cartoon! One criticism is that sometimes some of the photographs are a little indistinct but this is only a very minor annoyance.

Also included are some tips on visiting the site.

All in all I found this book hugely enjoyable and have no reservation in recommending it to students or tourists alike!
0Comment| 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Colosseum in Rome is arguably one of the five most famous buildings in the world but there are very few books about it. At least I have found that to be the case, as I have always had a fascination for the place. May this is the macabre side of me coming out. But it is not just the gladiatorial contests and many other blood letting contests that went on including wild animals fighting both humans and one another or the naval battles that were fought there. Yes naval battles, with real ships and the arena flooded with water. I readily admit that I find these interesting and have done for many years.

However the main attraction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, to give it its correct name is its architectural beauty. It is a building that we would be hard pressed to replicate today, even with all the modern building techniques that we now possess. A building that could fill with people and empty at the end of the games quicker than most modern football stadiums. A building that has stood the test of time. It is only vibration and pollution from modern day traffic that is now affecting the building more than the last two thousand years ever have.

A building that had more happening underground than ever happened above ground. Gladiator quarters, infirmaries. Lifts and hoists moved by an intricate network of pulleys and cables, that allowed wild animals to be brought up to the arena level.

This book tells you everything you need to know and more. It is well written And has some illustrations, but these are secondary to the excellent text.
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
This book is fantastic. I had to do a project on the Colosseum for a course module and was a little stumped until I found this brilliant, brilliant book. It is well written, which with factual books, for me, means easy to read and understand without being patronising. It was very, very interesting indeed and had lots of fantastic snippets of information along with the usual, how many cubic metres of stone went into this etc, etc...It struck a lovely balance between the architecture, the history and the social significance of the building to the Romans. There were useful and relevant illustrations and a lovely, and I thought successful attempt to make it relevant to modern readers, with stuff on the film Gladiator and other contemporary resources. There was a good bibliography, which I used, so I know this to be true. I highly recommend this book, both if you're a curious tourist or a student. It's not too long, it's definitely not dry and it was well worth the money. It made me want to read others in the series, even though I'm no longer studying historical architecture, and that's saying something.
0Comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
The Colloseum in Rome is arguably one of the five most famous buildings in the world but there are very few books about it. At least I have found that to be the case, as I have always had a fascination for the place. May this is the macabre side of me coming out. But it is not just the gladiatorial contests and many other blood letting contests that went on including wild animals fighting both humans and one another or the naval battles that were fought there. Yes naval battles, with real ships and the arena flooded with water. I readily admit that I find these interesting and have done for many years.

However the main attraction of the Flavian Amphitheatre, to give it its correct name is its architectural beauty. It is a building that we would be hard pressed to replicate today, even with all the modern building techniques that we now possess. A building that could fill with people and empty at the end of the games quicker than most modern football stadiums. A building that has stood the test of time. It is only vibration and pollution from modern day traffic that is now affecting the building more than the last two thousand years ever have.

A building that had more happening underground than ever happened above ground. Gladiator quarters, infirmaries. Lifts and hoists moved by an intricate network of pulleys and cables, that allowed wild animals to be brought up to the arena level.

This book tells you everything you need to know and more. It is well written And has some illustrations, but these are secondary to the excellent text.
0Comment| 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 23 June 2013
In a very easy to understand English that doesn't require an intellectual education, Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard write a history of the Colosseum in Rome ( buildings of this kind were found all over the Roman Empire ). The colosseum was built around 50 AD. Hopkins and Beard discuss the use of the colosseum from it's origin until today. They explain ( among other things ) the way that different social classes were seated. The senators were seated in the front row, alongside the Emperor, behind them were the other aristocrats, Roman citizens and finally slaves and foreigners on the wooden seats instead of marble seats.

An interesting question is what kind of games were performed. There were not only Gladiator fights but also animal hunting ( as exotic as elephants, giraffes, and tigers among other ferocious beasts ). An other problem Hopkins/Beard discuss, is how many Gladiators died in a season and if it's true that Christians were meat for tigers, lions, jaguars, bears, and such, all of this because they remained loyal to their religion. It's not easy to understand why the Romans did this. In Imperial Rome there were a lot of religions (Jewish, Egyptian - Isis cult - and several cults of the East.). All their followers lived in peace while staying loyal to their religion. So why the Christians?

Veterans and talented Gladiators were worth a lot of money ( moreover their training was expensive and time consuming ). This leads to the idea that on more than one occasion Gladiators fought with wooden weapons and performed a sort of choreography, a bit like stuntmen in modern movies. It was very close to real fighting and made the public sit on the edge of their seat. Hopkins and Beard found no evidence that Christians were thrown in the arena to be devoured by wild animals. It's significant that Christians themselves didn't mention the Colosseum as a place of martyrdom like many other places were.

In later centuries the colosseum was used as a stone quarry, a place for building houses, excavating antiquities and so on. In the last chapter Keith Hopkins and Mary Beard give all kinds of advice to tourists who want to visit the Colosseum. At the end of the day you'll know that the Colosseum is more than a place where Gladiators fought.
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