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The Colosseum is round because it is an amphitheater. Simply stated, amphitheaters developed by taking the design of a traditional theater, with a semicircle of seats on one side, and doubling it to make a round or oval-shaped performance space. In fact, the word amphitheater literally means a two-sided theater....

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The Colosseum is round because it is an amphitheater. Simply stated, amphitheaters developed by taking the design of a traditional theater, with a semicircle of seats on one side, and doubling it to make a round or oval-shaped performance space. In fact, the word amphitheater literally means a two-sided theater. There were amphitheaters all over the Roman Empire, but the Colosseum was the largest and most well-known of them all.

The building's round shape allowed for a maximum number of spectators. It is thought that the Colosseum could hold up to 80,000 audience members. Unlike drama performances which were often staged in semi-circular theaters, the spectacles held in the Colosseum, animal and gladiator fights, were meant to be viewable from all sides. Therefore, no skene, backdrop, or rear wall was needed.

Think of it this way: the Colosseum was a sporting venue, a stadium. Stadiums today are still laid out very much in the same way as the Colosseum. For most sports, it is possible to effectively view the action from many different angles. A football or basketball game can be viewed reasonably well from any point around the field or court. The same was true for events at the Colosseum.

I have included a link to a 3D model of the Colosseum which should help illustrate the advantages of its round shape. Note that no matter which way you rotate the model, you still have an unobstructed view of the arena.

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The Flavian Amphitheatre, or Colosseum, was built in an oval shape for a number of reasons. First, this shape makes it easier for a large audience to all have a good view of what's going on. The Colosseum was used for dramatic performances, gladiator fights, and animal fights- all popular forms of entertainment for the Roman people! By designing the seating to surround the entertainment, rather than extend in just one direction, a greater number of people would be able to have a good view. This shape is also beneficial for acoustics because it allows the sound to reflect on all sides. The semi-conical shape of the Colosseum would similarly help to amplify the sound occurring in the middle, at ground level.

It has also been suggested that the Colosseum was built in a rounded shape to allow the citizens to be able to see the fighting going on and the Emperor, who was seated in a special box called the pulvinar.

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