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March 08, 2006


Maclin Horton

That's a very fine piece of writing.

Tom Haessler

Very moving, Amy! The first time I went to the Colliseum I burst into tears, believing (falsely, apparently) that I was connected to the spot where many early Christian martyrs shed their blood for the faith. But the sense that it was a scene of orgies of blood connected with state worship remains with me still. Another feature of that visit was the hundreds (maybe thousands) of cats wandering about the place. Nice old Italian ladies came daily to feed them - spaghetti! LOL Does the place still have a feline feel?

Jimmy Mac

For 2 weeks in 2004 I walked from my convent B&B past the Colieso twice a day. I never tired of seeing it, particularly early in the morning before it was inundated with tourists.

It commands the local view and is well worth spending time there.


"Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"


Jimmy, was your convent B&B called Santa Sofia? That's where I'm staying in Roma this coming May and I know it's quite close to the Colosseum on the Piazza Madonna dei Monti. I mentioned a book before on one of these comments items entitled The Colosseum by Mary Beard and Keith Hopkins which is very informative. I believe it's published by Harvard Univ Press as part of a series they have out on famous structures of the world (there's one on the Alhambra, the Parthenon, and Westminster Abbey). I really enjoyed Amy's observation on the Roman numeral "gate" numbers. You know, when you start thinking about all the awful things that went on in the Colosseum, you have to wonder if we've really progressed all that far in nearly 2000 years. People are still junkies for cruelty and violency. Look at dog/cock fighting, violent media such as movies and video games, and in Spain the bullfight. Our arenas today tend to be smaller and more private, but we are still acting out and getting our thrills through violence today even if it is vicariously.


That's all just so beautiful. Thank you, Amy.


"Look at dog/cock fighting, violent media such as movies and video games, and in Spain the bullfight."

Indeed. It's still a source of scandal for some folks with thoughtful and compassionate minds who find it to be a mark on Christianity's claim to be compassionate. The ritual torture of animals was always strictly forbidden in Judaism. Too bad the Church (or I should say, churches since dogfighting is quite popular in the Bible belt) has been unable to reign it in (with notable exception to Pope Pius V, who tried to abolish the bull ring. He was ignored).


It should be remembered that the games were a form of sacrifice in the Roman civic religion. They were not merely entertainment.

And that was the World that the Gospel confronted.


I'm not sure that lions, giraffes, leopards, etc. were considered sacrificial animals in pagan Roman times. Both Greeks and Romans usually sacrificed cattle, sheep, etc. just as other ancient cultures did. The number of wild animals stolen from the wild by the pagan Romans was staggering. Thousands upon thousands died. It was no accident that wild carnivores were used to kill both Christian and non-Christian in the arena. I reiterate again, the Jews who also lived through those times and having been formed by the Torah forbade blood sports, being far advanced in that respect of their surrounding cultures.

We are no longer living in those days. We have no excuse for any kind of blood sports in our times. They are unBiblical and unChristian and certainly not the kind of "dominion" (and let's not forget the word is derived from "God-like") that God had in mind for human stewardship of the creation.

Ray Marshall

The Jews may have forbade the killing of lions, tigers, leopards and giraffes, but rivers of blood flowed out of the Temple in Jerusalem created from the humane, but bloody, sacrifices of cattle, sheep, goats and doves. Every family in Israel was required to sacrifice on many occasions each year.


Ray, there's a big difference. The temple sacrifices were required because the life blood of the animal had to be "returned" to God before its flesh could be consumed. It was precisely in order to keep the Jews from sacrificing improperly and arbitrarily that the Temple system was set up. Animals were always seen as belonging first of all to God and their lives could only be taken with his permission. Yes, the beautiful Temple was in actuality a slaughterhouse. Add to that the fact that only certain kinds of animals could be sacrificed and consumed and one sees the vast difference between what went on in the Roman arena and the worship of ancient Israel.

Human life was often cheap in the ancient world. Those unfortunate victims of the Roman arena, human and not, would never have been on display in the Jewish world.

Patricia Gonzalez

Very well written, Amy, and very evocative. Thank you!


"unable to reign it in: -- shoulda been "rein it in" -- sheesh.

Spelling was one of my finest achievements in grade school. Really.


This blog thing is pretty cool when you get ruminations like that for free!


"the marvel of the surviving structure, the energy and genius that produced it and so much of what we'd seen and would see of Ancient Rome,"

Though I am repelled by the more brutal side of ancient Roman culture nevertheless I also marvelled at the genius of Roman construction upon viewing the ancient Roman structures that still stand in the small Bavarian town of my birth when I returned for a visit.



Will those of the future say the same about us?

"Though I am repelled by the more brutal side of ancient American culture, nevertheless..."


I should have been clearer that certain parts of standard games were considered sacrificial. The Roman religion was not limited to the temple, but had domestic and civic extensions as well. One of the great things about HBO's otherwise salacious "Rome" series is that it captured more of the sense of the superstitious yet omnipresent nature of Roman beliefs in daily life, something often scrubbed clean in prior dramatic re-presentations.



"The Roman religion was not limited to the temple, but had domestic and civic extensions as well."

And also had great latitude and accomodation. Many Christians could have saved themselves from martyrdom if they had simply been willing to burn a pinch of incense before an image of the god-emperor.

There's no denying that a good part of the games were simply pandering to the more salacious parts of human nature and there certainly are counterparts in our "modern" societies. The ancient Romans, no less than any other people, were also part of Paul's teaching that "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God" even before the proclamation of the Gospel.

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