Weird History

What It Was Like To Be A Spectator In The Roman Colosseum

Ancient Romans loved their sports and entertainment, and the Colosseum put on the grandest games in all of ancient Rome. With its gladiators, interchangeable arenas, exotic animals, and the rare naval reenactment, being a spectator in the Roman Colosseum would have indeed been a spectacle.

Crowds of 50,000 people, spanning every region and socioeconomic class of the empire, gathered at the stadium to watch shows and get away from the disgusting life of everyday Rome. They enjoyed food, wine, music, and theatrics in a large venue, all paid for by the emperor himself. 

At the Colosseum, the audience could munch on chickpeas while waiting for the mid-day execution, watch for lions and other exotic animals released through the arena's hidden trap doors from their cramped seats, or see Roman elites collecting sweat from a gladiator (they thought it was an aphrodisiac). Events held at the Colosseum were so varied and elaborate that onlookers never knew what to expect.