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Bill Thayer

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 p5  Amphitheatrum Castrense

Article on pp5‑6 of

Samuel Ball Platner (as completed and revised by Thomas Ashby):
A Topographical Dictionary of Ancient Rome,
London: Oxford University Press, 1929.

Amphitheatrum Castrense. This name, found only in the Regionary Catalogue (Region V), belongs without doubt to the structure of which some remains are still visible, near the Sessorium (q.v.). Castrense is to be explained as meaning 'belonging to the imperial court,' and the brickwork is that of the time of Trajan1 (AJA 1912, 415, 417), who was especially fond of buildings of this kind. It is possible that this is the θέατρον μέγα κυκλοτερὲς πανταχόθεν mentioned by Pausanias (V.12.6) as one of the most important buildings of Trajan.

It was elliptical in form, with axes 88.5 and 78 metres in length, and constructed entirely of brick and brick-faced concrete. The exterior wall consisted of three stories of open arcades, adorned with pilasters and Corinthian capitals. When the Aurelian wall was built, the amphitheatre was utilized as a part of the line of fortification, the wall being joined to it in the middle of the east and west sides. The outer half of the building was thus made a projecting bastion, and the open arcades of the exterior were walled up, the ground level being at the same time lowered. The inner half was evidently pulled down, so that little use can have been made of the edifice at that time.

[image ALT: An engraving of a ruined amphitheatre. It is the Amphitheatrum Castrense in Rome.]
From an engraving by Alò Giovannoli, 1615 (p6)

Drawings of the sixteenth century represent all three stories, but since that time the upper one has entirely disappeared and all but a few fragments of the second. The cavea and the wall of the arena have also been destroyed, so that the remaining portion consists of the walled-up arcades  p6 of the lowest story (HJ. 248‑249; RE III.1773; LR 386; LS III.164; DuP 132). See Ill. 1, which shows its condition in 1615; ASA 96.

The Authors' Note:

1 Rivoira (RA, 44‑46) puts it in the first half of the third century. Dr. Van Deman now assigns it to the period of Septimius Severus.

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Page updated: 3 Sep 06