Roberto Grossi
The Colosseum

Hic is a Roberto Grossi comics story set at the Coliseum Archeological Park.

Just halt there a moment, before the monument that is the symbol of the Eternal City. Watch as the tourists of today and travellers from the past loiter by the ruins, looking up in awe at this marvel. Listen to the epic yells of gladiators, take in all those colourful gladiators of today, hovering for a souvenir photo. History is at home here. Indeed, it always has been. To quote the Venerable Bede, “While the Coliseum stands, Rome shall stand; when the Coliseum falls, Rome shall fall; and when Rome falls, the world shall fall.”

The Colosseum

The Flavian Amphitheatre

Rome owes its symbol to the farsightedness of the three emperors of the Flavian dynasty. The biggest amphitheatre of the ancient world was built in less than ten years. Commenced by Vespasian in the year 72, inaugurated by Titus in 80 and finally completed by Domitian, it held over 50,000 spectators. Travertine limestone, tuff, marble and brick were used to erect a masterpiece of imperial architecture and propaganda. Funded with the spoils from the sack of Jerusalem in 70 CE, it was built in the valley already expropriated by Nero to create the artificial lake of his magnificent residence the Domus Aurea. It is indeed the colossal bronze statue of Nero at the entrance to his “Golden House” that gave the amphitheatre the name by which it has been known since medieval times: the Colosseum.

History Ain’t Linear
Rome, in the year 4018. After the melting of the polar icecaps and the great earthquake of 2235, the city and its port were abandoned. The ruins of many twentieth-century buildings remain; they attract millions of visitors each year. The biggest draw Is the famous bathroom with bidet, a priceless artefact that to this day signals the superiority of Italian culture and manufacturing. Debate continues to rage about the idea of holding concerts in the incredibly fragile theatre at Corviale, which is already seriously threatened by storm tides. Rome, in the year 2018. Take a stroll around the Coliseum, along the Via Sacra, walk under the Arch of Titus, climb the Palatine hill and take a look. Allow yourself a sigh of relief. You are very lucky!
Roberto Grossi
An architect, illustrator and comics author, he lives and works in Rome. His works have appeared in many magazines and dailies, including Pulp Comix, Blue, BlueDerive, Olis, Derive e Approdi, Gomorra, il manifesto, Animals and book/magazines like Squame, B Comics and Galago in Sweden. He has illustrated for the Liberazione daily paper and the Carta weekly. His first book as sole author, 3boschi, came out in 2014 and won a “Self-publishing Special Mention” at the Tra le Nuvole Festival Cosmonauti Awards. Coconino Press - Fandango published his graphic novel Il grande prato.
Finds from the hypogeum
The Colosseum staged events for nearly five centuries, from the year 80 to 523. The programme started in the morning with venationes, where animals from all over the empire were pitted against one another or against men, and then executions, followed in the afternoon by fights between gladiators. The games could go on for months. Titus inaugurated the amphitheatre in the year with no fewer than 100 consecutive days of events.
The walls of the hypogeum
It was Domitian that ordered the building of the hypogeum, an authentic backstage area beneath the arena. By the light of torches, hundreds of perfectly drilled men worked a complex system of hoists, pulleys and elevators to raise and lower the animals and the scenery through the trapdoors of the wooden platform of the arena concealed beneath the sand.
Porta Libitinaria
The two entrances on the major axis of the arena were dedicated to the gladiators, the real stars of the show. Cheered on and revered by spectators, they fought in pairs with different weapons after years of tough training, placing their fate in the hands of the public and the emperor's final decision. Losers could only hope not to leave the arena through the Porta Libitinaria, the gate reserved for the dead and dying.
Detail of the tiered seating area
The tiered seating in the cavea was according to rank: the plebeians or ordinary citizens at the top, the equites or nobles in the middle, and the senators, who enjoyed the honour of having their names carved into the marble, closest to the arena. Two special boxes on the minor axis were reserved for the emperor, the Vestal Virgins and high-ranking figures.