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In the first century AD, the Roman Emperor Vespasian decided that Rome needed a stadium that would not only satisfy the crowds, but also convince the magnitude that Rome had become a power to be reckoned with. He wanted them to know that Rome now again had strong and unquestionable power in the world after the strong and bitter civil war it had recently gone through. His idea was to create an amphitheater. This theater, named the Flavian Amphitheater, earned a reputation as the greatest and deadliest structure ever built during the Roman Empire.
The Roman people found their greatest entertainment at public gladiatorial combats. Up until the late first century BC, these combats were held in the forum, the Circus Maxima, and other small arenas. At each of these sights there were great drawbacks. When the games were held in the forum, the only seats were a limited amount of temporary wooden seating. The Circus Maxima could hold a much greater amount of people then the forum, but the large spina, which stood in the middle of the fighting floor, created a great visual obstacle for all the spectators. The small arenas had such limited seating that going to the expense of hosting the games was often not worth it, due to the limited viewing audiences. All of these venues also harvested great safety and sanitary concerns. None of them had public toilets, or wash rooms. They were also nearly impossible to be efficiently evacuated in case of an emergency.
In 53 BC the politician Curio created the idea to build two semicircular stands built on a pivot. These stands could then be moved so each section could be turned away from each other and view separate events, or they could be turned inward, forming an oval, for joint viewing. This was the first recorded amphitheater in history.
In around 72 BC Vespasian, the current emperor of Rome, took this knowledge of Curio, along with that of the problems created with the other theaters, and set out to build the greatest amphitheater ever. The architect who created his design is unknown, but construction began in 75 BC. He selected a marshy area between the Caelian and Esqualine hills as the sight for his structure. This area was also the previous sight of Neros Golden House. During Neros rule he had created such a lasting illusion of terror throughout Rome that Vespasian wanted to prove to Romans that this too could be overcome. His goal was to transform the old residence of notorious horror into one of joy and entertainment. The construction is said to have progressed at a very rapid pace. Vespasian passed away in the year 79 AD, and the overseeing of the construction was continued by his sons Titus and Domitian, until 80 AD when it was completed. It is said that some 30,000 Jews were pressed into building this miraculous amphitheater, and that they can be credited for the fast completion in a time when modern building tools such as cranes were unavailable. The finished structure was named the Flavian Amphitheater, after the ruling dynasty who created it.
The Flavian Amphitheater was built in the shape of ellipse in the honor of the amphitheater of Curio, but this one was much larger. There were three principle arcades. The intervals were filled with arched corridors, staircases, supporting substructures, and finally tiers of seating. Much of the stones used in the construction were mined from Albulae near Tivoli, a town that was some fifty miles away. Much thought and planning was put into deciding what stones or materials would work best with each section of the Flavian Amphitheater. The final decisions proved so strong that parts of the structure still exist 2,000 years later. The foundation was built using concrete, a building material that was created by the Romans. Travertine, a form of limestone, was used for the tiers and arcades. Tufa-infill, a very porous substance, was used in between the piers and walls of the lower two levels. The top level, which was added after the initial construction, was originally made of wood. After a few years, the wood was taken out and replaced with brick faced ... more
Find essay on Wild Cat
If the reader has ever met with the works of the learned
folk-lorist G. Pitre, or the articles contributed by
"Lady Vere de Vere" to the Italian Rivista or that of
J. H. Andrews to Folk-Lore, he will be aware that there are
in Italy great numbers of Strege, fortune-tellers or witches,
who divine by cards, perform strange ceremonies in which
spirits are supposed to be invoked, make and sell amulets,
and, in fact, comport themselves generally as their reputed
kind are wont to do, be they Black Voodoos in America or
But the Italian Strega or sorceress is in certain respects
a different character from these. In most cases she comes of
a family in which her calling or art has been practiced for many
generations. I have no doubt that there are instances in which
the ancestry remounts to mediaeval, Roman, or it may be Etruscan
times. The result has naturally been the accumulation in such
families of much tradition. But in Northern Italy, as its literature
indicated, though there has been some slight gathering of fairy tales
and popular superstitions by scholars, there has never existed the
least interest as regarded the strange lore of the witches, nor any
suspicion that it embraced an incredible quantity of old Roman minor
myths and legends, such as Ovid has recorded, but of which much escaped
This ignorance was greatly aided by the wizards and witches
themselves, in making a profound secret of all their traditions,
urged thereto by fear of the priests. In fact, the latter all
unconsciously actually contributed immensely to the preservation of
such lore, since the charm of the forbidden is very great, and
witchcraft, like the truffle, grows best and has its raciest flavour
when most deeply hidden. Hopiter, and Venus and Mercury, and the Lares
or ancestral spirits, and in the cities are women who prepare strange
amulets, over which they mutter spells, all known in the old Roman time,
and who can astonish even the learned by their legends of Latin gods,
mingled with lore which may be found in CATO or THEOCRITUS. With one of
these I became intimately acquainted in 1886, and have ever since employed
her specially to collect among her sisters of the hidden spell in many
places all the traditions of the olden time known to them. It is true
that I have drawn from other sources, but this woman by long practice has
perfectly learned what few understand, or just what I want, and how to
Among other strange relics, she succeeded, after many years, in
obtaining the following "Gospel", which I have in her handwriting.
A full account of its nature with many details will be found in an
Appendix. I do not know definitely whether my informant derived a part
of these traditions from written sources or oral narration, but believe
it was chiefly the latter. However, there are a few wizards who copy or
preserve documents relative to their art. I have not seen my collector
since the "Gospel" was sent to me. I hope at some future time to be
For brief explanation I may say the witchcraft is known to its
votaries as la vecchia religione, or the old religion, of which DIANA
is the Goddess, her daughter Aradia (or Herodius) the female Messiah,
and that this little work sets forth how the latter was born, came down
to earth, established witches and witchcraft, and then returned to heaven.
With it are given the ceremonies and invocations or incantations to be
addressed to Diana and Aradia, the exorcism of Cain, and the spells of
the holy-stone, rue, and verbena, constituting, as the text declares,
the regular church-service, so to speak, which is to be chanted or
There are also included the very curious incantations or benedictions
of the honey, meal, and salt, or cakes of the witch-supper, which is
curiously classical, and evidently a relic of the Roman Mysteries.
The work could have been extended ad infinitum by adding to it the
ceremonies and incantations which actually form a part of the Scripture
of Witchcraft, but as these are nearly all - or at least in great number -
to be found in my works entitled Etruscan-Roman Remains and Legends of
Florence, I have hesitated to compile such a volume before ascertaining
whether there is a sufficiently large ... more
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