| Alberti, Leone Battista Architecture 1755, tr. Leoni, James |
the Amphitheatre is formed of two Theatres
with their Horns joined together, and the
Rows of Seats continued quite round; and
the chief Difference between them is, that a
Theatre is properly an half Amphitheatre,
with this further Variation too, that the Am
phitheatre has its middle Area quite clear from
any Thing of a Stage or Scenes; but in all
other respects, and particularly in the Seats,
Porticoes, Entrances and the like, they exactly
I am inclined to believe, that the Am
phitheatre was at first contrived chiefly for
Hunting, and that for this Reason it was made
round, to the Intent that the wild Beasts
which were enclosed and baited in it, not
having any Nook or Corner to fly to, might
be the sooner obliged to defend themselves
against their Assailants, who were extremely
bold and dextrous at engaging with the fier
cest wild Beasts.
Some armed only with a
Javelin, would with the Help of that leap
over a wild Bull that was making at him full
Speed, and so elude his Blow.
put on a Kind of Armour, composed of no
thing but thick Thorns and Prickles, would
suffer themselves to be rowled about and
mumbled by a Bear.
Others enclosed in a
Kind of wooden Cage, teazed and provoked a
Lion, and fome with nothing but a Cloak
about their left Arm, and a small Ax or Mal
let in their right Hand would attack him
In a Word, if any Man had either
Dexterity to deceive, or Courage and Strength
to cope with wild Beasts, he offered himself as
a Champion, either merely for the Sake of Ho
nour, or for Reward.
We read too, that both
in the Theatres and Amphitheatres, the great
Men used to throw Apples, or let fly little Birds
among the Mob, for the Pleasure of seeing
them scramble for them.
The middle Area
of the Amphitheatre, though it is surrounded
by two Theatres joined together, yet must not
be made solong as two compleat Theatres would
make it, if their Horns both pretended to meet
each other: But its Length must bear a cer
tain Proportion to its Breadth.
the Ancients made the Length eight, and the
Breadth seven Parts, and some made the
Breadth three fourths of the Length.
Particulars it agrees with the Theatre: It must
have Porticoes on the Outside, and one at the
Top within, over the highest Seat, which we
have called the Circumvallation.
We are next
to treat of the Circus.
Some tell us, that this
was built in Imitation of the heavenly Bodies;
for as the Heavens have twelve Houses, so the
Circus has twelve Gates for Entrance; and as
there are seven Planets, so this has seven Goals,
lying from East to West at a good Distance one
from the other, that through them the con
tending Chariots may hold their Course, as the
Sun and Moon do through the Zodiac; which
they did four-and-twenty Times, in Imitati
on of the four-and-twenty Hours.
currents were also divided into four Squadrons,
each of which was distinguished by its particu
lar Colour; the one was cloathed in Green, in
Representation of the verdant Spring; another
to denote the flaming Summer in Red; the
third in White, in Imitation of the pale Au
tumn; and the fourth in dusky Brown for the
The middle Area of the Cir
cus was neither clear nor open like the Am
phitheatre, nor taken up with a Stage like the
Theatre, but it was divided Lengthways into
two Courses by the Goals or Terms which
were set up at proper Distances, about which
the Horses or Men performed their Races.
these Goals there were three principal ones,
whereof the Middlemost was the chief of all,
and this was a Pile of Stone tapering up to the
Top, upon account of which regular Diminu
tion, it was called an Obelisk.
The other two
principal Goals were either colossal Statues, or
lofty Piles of Stones in the Nature of Trophies,
designed aster the Workman's Fancy, so as
they were only great and beautisul.
these principal Goals were two others on each
Side, either Columns or Obelisks less than the
former, which made up the Number of Seven.
We read in Historians, that the Circus Maxi
mus at Rome was three Furlongs in Length,
and one in Breadth.
Now indeed it is entire
ly destroyed, and there are not the least Foot
steps remaining by which we can form a Judg
ment of its ancient Structure: But by an actual
Survey of other Works of this Nature I find the
Manner of them was as follows: The Anci
ents used to make the middle Area of the Cir
cus in Breadth at least threescore Cubits, or
ninety Foot, and in Length seven Times that
The Breadth was divided into two
equal Parts or Courses by a Line drawn the
Length of the Circus, on which Line the Goals
or Terms were placed according to the follow
ing Method: The whole Length being divided
into seven Parts, one of those Parts was given
to a Sweep at each End for the Concurrents to
turn out of the right Course into the left, and
the Remainder was allowed for the Goals, which