Building or precinct with tiers of seats surrounding a central space used for public spectacles.
F. B. Sear
The Roman amphitheatre differs from a theatre in that it is elliptical in shape, has seats all round the arena and was used either for gladiatorial games or for contests between men and beasts. Under the arena floor were cages for the animals, and rooms and movable platforms for the props and scenery. Spectators were protected from the sun by a canvas awning suspended on ropes that were attached to masts around the top of the outer wall and secured to bollards at ground-level.
During the earlier Republican period gladiatorial games at Rome were held either in the Circus Maximus or in the Forum Romanum, with the spectators seated on temporary wooden benches. The senatorial ban on permanent theatres also applied to amphitheatres, with the result that even during the late Republic only temporary amphitheatres were erected at Rome, such as the one built by the senator ...