In the 1st century AD, the biggest amphitheatre ever built was erected in the heart of Rome. The Colosseum, planned by the emperor Vespatian so that he could cement his new dynasty’s hold on power, could count on the technical genius of the Romans in order to seduce the people of Rome as well as recently conquered peoples. But the Colosseum is not just a monument, it is a place meant for spectacles, to be watched by some 50,000 spectators, where the imperial administration is charged with entertaining the «plebs romana». These spectacles, assisted by the emperor, play a major role in the political functioning of the Empire. Other discoveries, in numerous locations of the former Empire, help us realise the extent to which such spectacles were a major feature of the Roman world, in both cultural and financial terms, as also attested by dozens of amphitheatres which sprang up throughout the western parts of the Empire before the fall of the entire Empire towards the end of the 5th century AD, when they all, including the Colosseum, followed suit.