On Thursday, apparently while I was finishing up the earlier piece on Rome's gladiator problem, another fight broke out at the Colosseum when police showed up to evict the two guys protesting the permit requirement. A gaggle of twenty-five other fake gladiators squared off against an unknown number of real police, trying to prevent the eviction. They failed.
The failure might have had something to do with only one side having real weapons, although that side didn't have to use them.
The "gladiators" are described throughout this Reuters report as "centurions," rather than gladiators, but I don't think that fits. While most or all of them seem to be dressed more like Roman legionaries than gladiators, at least some real gladiators likely dressed that way, too, so that could go either way. And not every legionary was a "centurion" -- those were officers, and while I don't know whether these guys are dressed specifically like centurions I do know they haven't earned any promotions. Of course, if they are soldiers and not gladiators, they should be out fighting Gauls or Germans or something, not hanging around the Colosseum in blue jeans scrounging for tips.
That is, as I mentioned before, they are dressed like legionaries only to a point. The Culture Ministry has complained that, in addition to their tourist-harassing habits, the gladiators "disfigure the historic image of the centurion by wearing jeans under their skirts, and running shoes instead of the classic Roman 'caliga' leather sandals." It's too bad for Rome that the legions weren't equipped with running shoes, because things might have come out differently. But since they weren't, these guys are cheating.
It should be said that according to the report, those who witnessed this particular gladiatorial struggle were on the side of the fake gladiators. "Leave them alone," they chanted (in Italian). "We are all centurions." Again, you can't all be centurions. You can all be Spartacus if you want, although you should know that didn't come out so well.