National Geographic : 1937 Mar
© National Geographic Society Finlay Photograph byBernard F.Rogers, Jr. TO CHARLES DICKENS, THE CRUMBLING COLISEUM WAS "THE GHOST OF OLD ROME, WICKED WONDERFUL OLD CITY" He pictured the amphitheater " as it used to be, with thousands of eager faces staring down into thearena, and such awhirl ofstrife, and blood, and dust going on there, as no language can describe." At its inauguration A. D. 80, about 5,000 wildbeasts were killed in"games" lasting 100 days, and the arena was flooded for mock naval battles. Here 50,000 spectators saw gladiators fight and Christians dieasmartyrs. The ancient triumphal arch on the recently paved Via dei Trionfi (left) commemorates a victory of Constantine the Great, who in313 gave Christians their religious freedom.