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Lyon: The Roman Amphitheater


Little remains today of the Roman amphitheater at Lyon, which lay south of the Fourviere, across the Saône. At the theater's opening  in AD 19 a dedication was made to Augustus by the priest C.F. Rufus. This inscription is now displayed along with other remains of the structure at the Musée de la civilisation Gallo-Romain   The amphitheater was later modified during the reign of Hadrian (AD 117-138).

[Fig.1: Inscription from the Roman amphitheater at Lyon (Musée de la civilisation Gallo-Romain).]

In addition to the normal gladitorial contests, after AD 177 the amphitheater at Lugdunum was used for persecutions and executions of Christians. These gruesome events are described in a passage by the 4th century historian Eusebius:

 Maturus, Sanctus, and Blandina were led into the amphitheater to the wild beasts... they bore the strokes of the scourge usually inflicted there, the draggings and lacerations of the beasts, and all the madness of the people...cried for and demanded; and last of all the iron chair, upon which their bodies were roasted, while the fumes of their own flesh ascended to annoy them.  The tormentors did not cease even then, but continued to rage so much the more, intending if possible to conquer their perseverence..." [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History,1  (ca. AD 325)]


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