I can’t resist posting this photo, which brings back happy memories of a trip to Rome five years ago. The Colosseum was one of the highlights, and we tourists all had fun being photographed with some handsome Ancient Romans, soldiers, gladiators, and suchlike. I’d have got a bit more dressed up if I’d known I’d have an Emperor in my picture!
What made me think of this was reading that there’s trouble in the ranks of the fake gladiators of Rome. It seems some of them are fakes in more senses than one, indulging in rather more than harmlessly earning a few euros by entertaining the crowds. They’ve been threatening visitors, demanding large amounts of money, or resorting to sharp tricks like offering to take a tourist’s photo with his own camera then refusing to hand it back till the poor victim has paid a large ransom.
So according to press reports, the police have now unleashed hell…that is, arrested them. To do this they dressed up as gladiators themselves, also as dustbin men and even just in plain clothes, and nicked a satisfying number of these crooks. I wonder what will happen to them now? Fines perhaps, or prison sentences, or will some bleeding-heart do-gooder get them off on the basis that their human rights will be infringed if they go to jail? Probably. The current climate of opinion seems to give far more weight to the human rights of criminals than those of their victims.
If the punishment were allowed to fit the crime, these doubly-fake individuals should be made to perform as gladiators and fight to the death, or at least till one of them surrendered. I suspect that wouldn’t make much of a spectator sport by the standards of Imperial Rome, because however glamorous their appearance, I assume their gladiator act only goes as far as the clothes they stand up in.
For most real gladiators, life was anything but glamorous, yet they still have a fascination for us today, as they did in their own time. At least if they were skilled they could survive, and even perhaps become celebrities, rich and famous and popular, especially with the ladies. That’s why, though most of them were slaves, there were some freeborn fighters too. The lure of stardom overcame the fear of danger.
Of course I’m glad Roman tourist sites have fewer crooks around now, but I do hope there are still some gladiators and soldiers and occasional Caesars left to adorn the Eternal City. I’ve promised myself that I’ll go back to Rome, and next time I’m photographed outside the Colosseum, I’ll be sure to be wearing something with a bit more style to fit in with the surroundings!