News From Rome! Gladiators To Fight Again

Colosseum Today
Colosseum Today

News from Rome! Gladiators are coming back to the Colosseum to entertain the crowds nearly 2,000 years after the last bloody contest took place. Plans are in the making for a complete restoration of Rome’s most famous fighting arena. Gladiators will once again take up the trident, nets, swords and daggers in realistically choreographed battles. Not intended for very young children, these fighters will appear and act as they did in the first century, without the show of blood.  According to Umberto Broccoli, head of archaeology at Rome’s city council,”…the gladiators themselves were vulgar. They were sweaty, they stank and they swore.” His plans are to re-create “the sights, sounds and smells” of ancient Rome. But first, a badly needed restoration must take place.

The Colosseum, or Flavian Amphitheater, was inaugurated in 80 AD by Emperor Titus. Large enough to seat 50,000 inhabitants, the Roman populace were entertained by gladiatorial contests, savage animal hunts, and mock sea battles. Incredibly, the arena was capable of being flooded to enable ships to float. Many stage hands were responsible for operating the show. Several worked from high above where a huge awning could be pulled to cover the Colosseum during the heat of the day. Many others operated the maze of underground tunnels and chambers where gladiators prepared for battle and animals were kept to be hoisted up in wooden cages to the arena floor. It was truly a major accomplishment in technology.

Gladitorial Exchange
Modern Gladiatorial Exchange

Traditionally, pop concerts have been held here in the amphitheatre until recently, when chunks and pieces of rock began falling from the structure. Additionally, the thrumming of the nearby subway consistently vibrates the foundation. It has been recently discovered that the Colosseum tilts 16 inches on its southern side, which is possibly due to flaws in the original structure.

Colossuem Interior
Colosseum Interior

Italian tycoon Diego Della Valle’s plans are to finance a $32 million project ( by some reports) to restore the foundation of the ‘leaning Colosseum of Rome.’ However, work has been delayed on the three-year restoration project because of court challenges to the contract bidding process.

Is this a good idea for the  Colosseum of Rome to be rebuilt? It would change the present structure drastically, using modern material.  Is it better to leave the old monumental ruins as they are?

This has been a disturbing matter for me. I love Rome and all of its antiquities, but  the Colosseum, magnificent as it was in 80 AD, was a realm of horrors. Because of its hideous past, I’m personally concerned with the idea of reinstating these gladiatorial battles that are intended to honor and elevate gladiators of the past. Truth be known, many were criminals, almost all forced into battle as slaves or financially in need. They were trained to brutally kill man and beast.

Do we seriously need to make the Colosseum more ‘thrilling’, resurrecting the past stench of Rome?

I sincerely hope that we simply keep the Colosseum a well-preserved major historical ruin and reminder of the Roman civilization entering its ‘prime.’

How do you feel about the restoration of the Colosseum? What do you think of the re-enactment of mock gladiatorial battles? Do you see this as elevating an evil from the past? Or of value historically? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.

*Umberto Broccoli

Beware The Gladiators of Rome

They got me!!
They got me!!

Who isn’t familiar with the ‘gladiators’ that stand around the colosseum dressed in bright red capes and leather breastplates? They certainly look and act charming at first. However, the gladiators of Rome are anything but. Last April, a squad of 80 policemen chased out a troop for loitering around the colosseum and harassing tourists. Since 2002, the law has prohibited them from posing in costume around the 2,000 year old monumental ruin. However, it seems the laws have not been fully enforced.  If caught, they could face up to one year in jail.

While savoring my maiden experience at the colosseum one recent summer, I had an opportunity to familiarize myself with ‘gladiatorial hospitality’. Two brightly dressed contenders swaggered up beside me, brandishing swords as they took up a ‘hail, Caesar’ pose. It was amusing until we gave them a tip. It wasn’t enough. We had to walk away from disgruntled shouts that continued until we were out of sight.

La Repubblica, a national newspaper, claimed that these gladiators make a living by swindling others. It’s not uncommon for them to demand $13 to $26 and even up to $65 for a picture. Many have made this their livelihood for years and don’t want to give it up. While they have enjoyed some free reign at the Colosseum in previous years, expect to see much less of them under recent law enforcement.

Nobody loves a party more than I, and the sight of gladiators in bright red capes, laced-up sandals, plumed helmets and swords is exciting. But unless you have a firm resolve to stand your ground, just remember to keep a clear distance from them and continue on. The party just gets better from there.

Related Article:http: When In Rome Do As I Do