Imperial Rome was a warrior state. The Colosseum (opened in A.D. 80) was Rome's monument to warfare. Like a cathedral of death it towered over the city and invited its citizens, 50,000 at a time, to watch murderous gladiatorial games. It is now visited by two million visitors a year (Hitler was among them). Two leading classical historians tell the story of Rome's greatest arena: how it was built; the gladiatorial and other games that were held there; the training of the gladiators; the audiences who reveled in the games, the emperors who staged them and the critics; and the strange after story - the Colosseum has been fort, store, church, and glue factory. "The Wonders of the World" is a series of books that focuses on some of the world's most famous sites or monuments. Their names will be familiar to almost everyone: they have achieved iconic stature and are loaded with a fair amount of mythological baggage. These monuments have been the subject of many books over the centuries, but our aim, through the skill and stature of the writers, is to get something much more enlightening, stimulating, even controversial, than straightforward histories or guides.
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Keith Hopkins was Professor of Ancient History at Cambridge and Vice-Provost of King's College.
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