The Roman Colloseum was the work of a brilliant and energetic civilization. The Roman Colosseum was the work of a cruel and brutal civilization. Both are true. The Roman Colosseum was one of the most extraordinary buildings in the ancient world, a work of engineering genius whose design is imitated every time a modern stadium is built. Yet, what went on inside this building is difficult to comprehend. Over the centuries, tens of thousands of slaves, prisoners of war, and criminals were slaughtered in the Colosseum for the entertainment of over 50,000 cheering fans. So many animals were destroyed in gruesome "hunts" staged in the arena that entire species disappeared from the Roman colonies of North Africa. This book interweaves the impressive story of the construction of this remarkable building and the sobering tale of the "games" that went on inside it. It reveals an entire civilization in all its genius and its brutality.