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Joseph Grimaldi invented the clown as we know today (a joy for some and deathly fear for other). He lived on the stage since his second year and left it everything that was his.
The Circus Maximus (or in Italian Circo Massimo) was one of the greatest entertainment venues of the ancient world. It was used for entertainment and in religious purposes. Some consider it as a predecessor of modern circuses. Today is a city park.
Although almost nothing has left of Circus Flaminius today, we know that it existed and that it was important public place for hundreds of years where games and other public businesses were held.
Contemporary circus is relatively new subtype of circus (some 50 years relative to 250 of a traditional circus) which mixes elements of its predecessor with higher art and other type of media.