Historic Sports: A Brief Look At The Roman Colosseum

Most of us are aware of the old adage, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” And rightly so, because the Roman Colosseum alone was built in 80 CE and certainly not in one day. The amphitheater was started under the ruling of Titus’ father, Vespasian, and was finished a decade later in magnificent fashion – seating 50,000 people and fit for what was undoubtedly the best city.

The Roman Colosseum is now seen as one of the most iconic and historic landmarks of today. It continues to be a symbol of power and grandiosity. More than the representation it imparts to the rest of the world, the amphitheater also bore witness to numerous happenings throughout history, particularly being a venue of great sporting events and spectacles.


Want to learn more about the Roman Colosseum and the historic sports played in the arena? In this article, we will tell you all of that and more. We have compiled a list of everything you’ll want to know about this richly historic venue.

Look at the Roman Colosseum

A Brief Background On The Roman Colosseum

The Colosseum was started under Vespasian’s ruling as a neophyte emperor, around 70 to 72 CE, in attempts to restore prestige and power back to the Romans after the excesses of Nero’s reign. The site originally housed a pleasure place to provide entertainment and luxury for Nero. However, Vespasian turned it into a place to house the people – scraping up the remains of the Golden House and turning it into the largest amphitheater designed to welcome Roman citizens.


After a decade of construction, the Colosseum – also touted as the Flavian Amphitheater – was dedicated by Titus in 80 CE, the successor of Vespasian. Titus celebrated the arena’s opening with a bang, focusing on hosting 100 days of games.

Roman Games And Sporting Events Held In The Colosseum

There are several ancient games that were greatly beloved by the Romans. As a matter of fact, one of Vespasian’s motivations behind the creation of the arena was a place for citizens to enjoy gladiatorial combats and pursuits, along with other types of sports and entertainment. Take a look at some of the historic sports of the past.

Gladiator Contests

At the helm of the most historic sporting events loved by Romans are gladiator contests called munus. This is one of the games that Titus ordered to commemorate the opening of the Flavian amphitheater.


Gladiators normally enter combat with the idea that they may not live to fight another day. Utilizing swords or maces, gladiators battled each other with the intent to kill and trap the opponent. In order to please the crowd – and even the emperors attending the games – combatants must stretch their fight and make it entertaining for the crowd.

Though the gladiators are mainly in charge of their opponent’s lives, spectators may also give their approval to spare the losing party’s life if the gladiator put up a good fight – and a good show. Otherwise, the crowd will roar with approval to proceed with the slaughter.

Roman Colosseum

Chariot Races

Chariot races were also held on a regular basis. Normally, two, four, or six horses pulled a carriage and ran the tracks at incredible speeds. Meanwhile, carriages were two-wheeled vehicles that were designed to carry the charioteer or charioteers, depending on whether the race called for singles or teams. Because of the speed and the fragility of the chariots, collisions and accidents were unavoidable. Winners of these races would be granted millions and were often deemed celebrities.

  • Wild Animal Hunts

Another captivating event held in the amphitheater that certainly drew in crowds were wild animal hunts, also called venatio. Exotic animals were brought in from different parts of Rome and were forced to fight against humans. Animals and humans were typically chained to one another and crowds cheered on to see the prowess that each party possessed. Among the animals that were brought to the arena include lions, rhinos, hippopotamuses, panthers, and even giraffes.

  • Mock Naval Engagements

Last but certainly not least are the naval battles or naumachia. For these sporting events, the Colosseum was flooded with water at great expense – all to recapture the battles the navy had to contend with. Battles were staged as two parties going against each other, complete with 4,000 slaves and 2,000 crew members on board.

Roman Colosseum History

The Bottom Line

The Roman Colosseum is one of the most important landmarks in history. With this article, you now know the historic sports and events which were once held in this very arena. As you visit this place, make sure to remember this information to further enrich your experience.