According to the rankings, the seats were divided into four parts, or levels. The Emperor sat in the Imperial box, also known as the cubiculum, in the most coveted section. The Imperial Box was put in a prominent position on the podium on the north side. It had glass walls to allow for views of the games and entertainment during intermissions. The other three sections were called bleacher seats because you stood up while watching the games. These seats were placed along the sides of the arena and at the top.
In addition to the four levels of seating, there were also stone steps leading up to the stage. This is where the gladiators would have appeared when they were summoned by the emperor to fight.
The Colosseum was built in 80 AD by Vespasian to replace an earlier stadium used for athletic competitions and public executions. The new structure was larger than its predecessor and could hold 50,000 people. It remained popular after Constantine made it a Christian church in 380 AD, and it continued to be used for executions and as a theater until 1884, when modern stadiums with better lighting technology were built.
The Colosseum has been preserved over time thanks to many repairs and modifications over the years. It is now located in Rome's Palazzo del Quirinale, which is why it doesn't show its original color.
The podium, also known as the ima caveum, was elevated and had reserved seats. Other seats on the stage were reserved for the most affluent Romans, including members of the royal family, senators, nobles, and priests. The rest of the audience stood throughout the performance.
The box was lit by candles during performances. It has been suggested that it might have had electric lights too but this is not certain. If it did have electricity then it would have been the first theatre in Europe or America to do so!
There were no aisles in the Colosseum, so people stood all around the perimeter. There were some steps down into the middle of the arena from where the actors performed but these were not suitable for comfortable seating and so more expensive seating was built into the wall. This was called the loggia and there were three of them, one for each class of spectator. They could be reached by interior stairs from any point across the arena. In fact, the only place in the whole complex where you wouldn't need to go outside to see the show was inside one of these loggias!
The lower classes were given the best seats but even they weren't always able to afford them. Sometimes workers' clubs would hire out parts of their roof for a few coins per person.
The stage During its heyday, the emperor and his entourage sat on the platform, which was positioned on the first deck on the northernmost side. The seat was made of marble and had a back rest. There were two other seats exactly like it for his servants.
The Colosseum in Ancient Roman Times: A Guide to Its History and Architecture (Abrams Books, 2010) by John O'Mara is an excellent resource for anyone interested in learning more about this remarkable building.
The emperor would have been seated with his family around him. His wife, mothers, sisters, and daughters would have been there, as well as some of his favorite slaves. It is said that he gave orders that if women screamed during games then they should be put to death because it was thought that they were too sensitive to see things like he did.
The emperor would have been surrounded by high-ranking officials from his government. These men would have advised him on policy issues before voting on them. They would have also told him what people thought of his decisions so that he could know how to proceed ahead.
Finally, the emperor would have been protected by a large number of soldiers who stood guard at all times except when they were on duty.