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Circus of Nero began as a place for public trainings of Caligula and Nero and became a place of martyrdom of many early Christians. When it was abandoned it became a place of not one but two basilicas.
Philip Astley combined two types of show: horse riding tricks and acrobatic acts into a type of show we today know as circus. He owned many small circuses and three large: in London, Paris and Dublin. Read more about the father of the modern circus.
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.
John Bill Ricketts brought circus from Europe to United States. He worked successfully for seven years until a misplaced candle brought down his business and he lost his money and life at sea.