Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Amphitheatre, an oval building, generally of very large dimensions, in which the Romans used to hold their public exhibitions. These buildings were at first made of wood, but in the time of Augustus stone was employed; they were open to the sky, but an awning or velarium could be drawn across the top in case of rain or of excessive heat. The place where the actual show took place was termed the arena, and was in the centre; the gallery immediately surrounding the arena was known as the podium, and was reserved for the emperor, senators, and persons of very high rank; the next fourteen tiers of seats were cushioned and were reserved for the equites; the remainder of the seats were of stone, and were open to all. The Colosseum at Rome (612 feet long, 515 broad, and 160 feet high) is the best known example of this sort of structure still remaining; this is said to have contained 87,000 people. Many other examples, however, yet exist: at Cirencester and Dorchester, in England; at Arles and Nimes in France, while the one at Verona, in Italy, is one of the finest examples.