Wednesday 21 Jan, 2009

Gladiators To Battle At Colosseum

If you’ve visited the Colosseum in Rome, then you’ve likely seen gladiators roamin’ around. They are actors dressed in costumes trying to make an easy buck (or, more accurately, 20 euros) by posing for photos with tourists.

If you visit this summer, though, you could see real-life gladiators doing battle at the Colosseum for the first time in more than 1,500 years.

The city of Rome recently announced plans to stage gladiator fights in or near the Colosseum. Well-trained gladiator actors in authentic costumes would engage in choreographed, historically accurate battles with real weapons such as swords and tridents.

The city’s objectives are multifold—one, to crack down on the freelancing (and sometimes boorish) gladiator actors outside the Colosseum; two, to cash in on some of the 5 million people who visit the Colosseum each year; and three, to bring “the sights, sounds and smells” of ancient Rome alive.

Umberto Broccoli, the head of archaeology for Rome’s city council, told Rome’s largest daily newspaper, La Repubblica:

“Less sacredness and more showmanship. We
need to make our monuments and museums come alive. They must speak to
the public in a new way. … The gladiators were vulgar, sweaty, smelly, cursing folk. Why not show them as they really were?”

Not everyone is in favor of bringing gladiators back to life. Francesco Rutelli, the former Rome mayor and Italian Culture Minister who now heads the city council opposition, mocked the idea of the mock battles. But, for now, it looks like the show will go on.

What do you think? Would you want to see gladiator battles re-created at the Colosseum?

Photo: DanieVDM via Flickr (CC license)