The Roman Colosseum is the most famous monument to have survived from the classical world. It was built nearly two thousand years ago for the purpose of hosting violent gladiator games. Thousands of men and animals fought for their lives in the sandy arena. A few gladiators and warriors found glory there. Some even found fame and riches but many more died an anonymous death, providing entertainment for eager Roman spectators.
The powerful associations and images evoked by the Roman Colosseum express both the majesty and might of the Roman empire. It dominates the space it occupies, towering above the surrounding Roman streets and buildings. It is a symbol of the imperial might and architectural ingenuity of the Roman empire that dominated the ancient Mediterranean world for centuries. The story of the amphitheater and its gladiator games from their origins through the zenith of their development and into the decline and eventual fall provides a unique insight into the evolution and fall of the Roman empire itself.