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Rcfai Volution

circus, seats, called, podium, staircases, cirri, doors and wall

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RCFAI VOLUTION, (from the Latin, circumvolutus) the act of rolling round. In architecture, this term is applied to the spirals of the Ionic capital ; every term of which is called a circumvolution. In the most ancient examples of the Lillie order, the volute has three circumvolutions, or revo lutions, as they are otherwise called ; but that of the temple of :Minerva Polias, at Priene, has four. See VOLUTE, SPIRAL, and IONIC ORDER.

CI liCI 'S, in antiquity, a large enclosed space, adapted for chariot-races, an amusement to which the Romans were passionately attached. The name Circus does not convey an exact idea of the form of this building, which both in its outline and its use resembled the ;reek stadium.

There were inany cirri in I tome, of which the Circus :Nlaximus, and the Circus Agomdis, were perhaps the largest. The t;irmer may still he distinctly traced ; the latter retains its external form only in the Piazza NaV011a of Rome. This species of edifice appears to have been very early introduced among the Romans, and, like many of the first public edifices, was of a temporary character, and constructed of wood.

The first permanent circus, at Itome, was said to have been built by Tarquinius Prisons, and was situated in a valley between the Palatine and Aventine hills, On this side was afterwards erected the Circus :Maximus, which was enlarged by Julius Ciesar, and rebuilt and richly ornamented by Augustus. In the time of Nero it was burnt down; Trajan repaired it, and increased its dhaensions so much, as to con tain the E0111:111 people. The exterior of the circus, except at the current% consisted of two stories, adorned with columns, and finished with a terrace. The ground-Hoor was occupied by merchants, except on the days appointed for the games. Augustus brought an obelisk from Egypt 126 feet high, and placed it in this circus. Constantine also erected in it the obelisk now called the Lateran, which is the largest of all the Roman obelisks.

The Flaminian circus was of considerable magnitude. Its only remains are ruins beneath the present pavement of the city. There are several other cirri, the ruins of which may be traced ; but that which demands our attention most, IS the circus of Caracalla, as very considerable traces of its ancient form are yet to be seen.

Several of the cirri in Rome, were exteriorly surrounded with magnificent porticos, except on the side where the earcerre were placed. Others were simply enclosed with a wall, pierced with doors and windows, as in the circus of Caracalla. The lower part of the circumference of the circus,

beneath the seats, together with the porticos, formed long galleries of arcades, or Arnices ; serving in part for an access to the staircases leading to the seats, and in part for the shops of various traders. The staircases of difliarent cirri were variously distributed, according to the judgment of the archi tect. The principal staircases led to a number of little doors in the podium, which was a long open platform, or passage, encompassing the edifice at an elevation of some feet from the area of the circus. The persons of the imperial family, the principal magistrates, and the pontiff's, only were admitted into the podium. Behind the podium there was a little wall with a precinctum, in which small doors were distributed. The seats rose one above another, their whole height, in the manner of steps, and were supported on the inclined vault of the gallery or portico beneath them, and ascended from the podium to the top of the external wall.

The great cirri, as well as the theatres and amphitheatres, were divided into several ranges of seats, for the purpose of placing the spectators according to their condition. The seats began from the at the hack of the podium, and after setting off a sufficient number for persons of the first rank, the staircase of seats was interrupted by the omission of two or three, which liirmed an ambulatory, or via, similar to the podium, at every certain number of seats. Separate staircases led to each via, through doors in the precinctum ; these aper tures were called volnituria. As the spectators entered by these passages at the top of the ranges of seats, they would have to descend to occupy the first rows of each momiana, and since the seats themselves were too high to serve as steps, staircases, called scalares, formed by cutting down a seat into two steps, were provided. The sealares were placed opposite the vomitoria, beginning from the via, and descending to the lower seat of each range; by this means the ranges were divided into a number of compartments, called ru 7ici, as in the theatres and amphitheatres; in the latter they obtained this name from their radial direction, and though the sides of the circus were straight, and the compartments consequently of a rectangular fiirm, they wore called ennui, from usage.

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