Circus Maximus

The Circus Maximus was at Rome. The circuses of the Romans were what we should call race courses. There were several at Rome, the most celebrated being the Circus Maximus, which was first, laid out in the time of the Tarquins and afterwards enlarged as the population of the capital increased until it was capable of holding two or three hundred thousand spectators.

The first instance of Roman persecution of Christians is during the reign of Nero after a fire at the Circus Maximus. On the hot summer night of July 18th, a fire broke out in the wooden bleachers and among the wooden buildings at the northern end of the Circus Maximus. Within minutes, all of the tinder-dry stadium was ablaze. The shops surrounding the Circus, which lined the valley between the Palatine and Caelian Hills were full of inflammable materials. Of the cities 14 districts, four alone escaped untouched and raged for a week before finally burning itself out and leaving a large part of the city a mass of charred and smoking ruins. Besides the noble pile, called the Circus, many other palaces and houses were consumed, several thousand perished in the flames, were smothered in the smoke, or buried beneath the ruins.

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