The Flavian Amphitheater

The Flavian Amphitheater (better known to modern readers as the Colosseum, although that name is not used in the fourth century) is the largest amphitheater in Rome, and in the world. The Flavian Amphitheater stands in a valley near the Forum, next to the temple of Venus and Rome. The amphitheater is oval, about 615 feet long and 510 feet wide, with tiers of seats reaching almost 160 feet into the sky. The seats are divided into four levels, with the senators seated nearest the arena, and women, slaves and foreigners standing in the upper reaches. There are 80 entrances, of which 76 are for the general public, one for the Emperor and three for other dignitaries. These entrances lead to the seats along passages called vomitoria. The amphitheater can seat 80,000, and can be emptied in minutes. The arena is used to host beast fights, gladiatorial combats and pageants of various kinds. Artificial landscapes may be built to serve as backdrops to events.

At night, the Flavian Amphitheater is normally empty of spectators. However, the structure is riddled with tunnels, which are used by the Propinqui of Rome for meeting, feeding and, ocasionally, fighting. There are three sets of passages, although they link. The first are the vomitoria, and other corridors leading from the entrances to the seats. The second run under the seats, but are used by the staff and slaves of the amphitheater to maintain it. Most significant is a passage that runs around the edge of the arena, with narrow slits giving a view of the action.

The final set, the hypogeum, are on two levels and run under the whole amphitheater, including the arena itself. These contain holding pens for wild beasts, where they are kept when not fighting, quarters for slave gladiators and chambers where costumes and the like can be prepared for spectacles. There are approximately 80 vertical shafts leading up from the hypogeum, with mechanical lifts to take beasts or gladiators to the arena. Running through this area is a large central tunnel, along the long axis of the amphitheater, which allows staff to reach different areas quickly.

There are also tunnels giving access to the Flavian Amphitheater from outside. Four are well-known: one for the Emperor, one for the Vestal Virgins and two for other dignitaries. There are more tunnels, though, some connecting to Necropolis.

The tunnels are dark, illuminated by an inadequate number of torches and lamps. In the hypogeum, the air is filled with the noises of caged animals, particularly if something disturbs them, and the gladiators on the lower level may join in. The air stinks of beasts and men kept overlong in close quarters. The tunnels under the seating are quieter, and all but deserted.

Avitus manages the games of the Arena after the Final Death of Otho Corbulo.

Equipment Bonuses: +2 to all combat totals; this is the Flavian Amphitheater. Weapons of all kinds are stored in the hypogeum. Someone fleeing outside the hypogeum gets a +3 bonus, thanks to the wide choice of routes. Within the hypogeum, pursuers get a +3 bonus, thanks to the narrow passages and blind tunnels.

The Flavian Amphitheater

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