The amphitheatre in Pompeii was situated in the south-east corner of the town, about as far as one can get from the Forum. It was built around 70 BC, long before Rome itself had a permanent venue for the viewing of gladiatorial combat. It is capable of holding around 20,000 people, which suggests that the designers anticipated visitors from neighbouring areas. Access to seating was via stairs from outside of the arena. Access to the arena floor was through two paved vaulted tunnels, the same way that visitors enter today.
Within The Histories of Tacitus (written perhaps 30 years after Pompeii’s destruction) we can read of a terrible event that took place in Pompeii in 59AD, twenty years before it was destroyed.
sub idem tempus levi initio atrox caedes orta inter colonos Nucerinos Pompeianosque gladiatorio spectaculo, quod Livineius Regulus, quem motum senatu rettuli, edebat. quippe oppidana lascivia in vicem incessente[s] probra, dein saxa, postremo ferrum sumpsere, validiore Pompeianorum plebe, apud quos spectaculum edebatur. ergo deportati sunt in urbem multi e Nucerinis trunco per vulnera corpore, ac plerique liberorum aut parentum mortes deflebant. cuius rei iudicium princeps senatui, senatus consulibus permisit. et rursus re ad patres relata, prohibiti publice in decem annos eius modi coetu Pompeiani collegiaque, quae contra leges instituerant, dissoluta; Livineius et qui alii seditionem conciverant exilio multati sunt. Tacitus, Histories, 14.17
In what follows, the Latin word order has been rearranged to allow for an Interlineal Translation that reads well enough in English. This method was once popular, but has fallen into disrepute as it mangles somewhat the original text. It can be useful, however, when beginning to read complex texts.
sub idem tempus At about the same time atrox caedes a terrible slaughter orta arose levi initio from a trifling beginning inter colonos Nucerinos Pompeianosque between the people of Nuceria and Pompeii gladiatorio spectaculo at a gladiatorial show, quod which Livineius Regulus Livineius Regulus edebat was giving, quem motum whose expulsion senatu from the senate rettuli I have noted.
quippe For incessentes attacking oppidana lascivia with provincial impudence sumpsere they took up in vicem in turn probra insults, dein saxa then rocks, postremo ferrum and finally steel, validiore Pompeianorum plebe with the commoners of Pompeii being the stronger, apud quos in whose neighbourhood spectaculum edebatur the show was being given.
ergo Consequently multi e Nucerinis many of the Nucerians deportati sunt were carried away in urbem into the city [ie: into Rome] trunco corpore with body maimed per vulnera through wounds, ac plerique and very many deflebant were mourning mortes the deaths liberorum aut parentum of their children or parents.
princeps The emperor permisit delegated iudicium the trial cuius rei of this matter senatui to the senate, senatus the senate consulibus to the consuls.
et re relata And the case having been relegated rursus again ad patres to the [senatorial] fathers, Pompeiani prohibiti the Pompeians were prohibited publice coetu from public meeting eius modi of this kind in decem annos for ten years –que and collegia the clubs, quae instituerant which they had set up contra leges against the laws, dissoluta were dissolved;
Livineius Livineius et alii and the others qui who seditionem conciverant had stirred up insurrection multati sunt were punished exilio with exile.
Then I walked all the way to the amphitheatre, far from the Forum. Once the Pompeians used to watch gladiators fighting in this arena.
The Lego model of Pompeii is housed in the Nicholson Museum of The University of Sydney, Australia. Entry to the museum is entirely free, and you may visit Monday to Friday between 10:00 and 4:30. The Nicholson is Australia’s oldest University museum and contains the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Pompeii model was commissioned by the Nicholson and constructed by LEGO Professional Builder Ryan McNaught. It is the third such model the museum has exhibited, following the Colosseum and Acropolis. The Colosseum was returned to McNaught and recently exhibited around Australia. The Acropolis was denoted by the Nicholson to the Acropolis Museum in Athens. The Pompeii model is estimated to include 190 000 bricks and took 420 hours to complete.