Rome's Coliseum lures
22d MEU (SOC) warriors
Submitted by: 22nd
Story Identification Number:
Story by Cpl. Matthew Kell, Combat
ROME, Italy(January 6, 2001) -- The
euphoria known as the fog of war is common on the
traditional battlefield, however the Marines of the 22d
Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable),
visited the an ancient arena where the fog of war was
induced by a bloody spectacle for the entertainment of the
While the USS Nassau was docked for the holidays in Brisdini,
Italy, the warriors turned tourists for a day, set out on an
adventure to see Rome's Coliseum where hundreds of thousands
of gladiators, Christians, slaves or prisoners fought to the
"I couldn't believe I was standing there," Sgt.
Jason Barreto, from Milwaukee, Wis. said. "I was in awe
thinking of all the battles that had been fought and the
blood that had been shed."
The tour included several sites and ruins but Sgt. Ray
Miller, a Marine Air Ground Task Force planner, said he
would have made the eight-hour trip just to see the "Colosseo."
"I've always wanted to see it," the Houston, Texas
Marine said. "It's every six-year-old's dream. At that
age, your fascinated with gladiators and the military."
The Coliseum, originally named "Amphitheatrum Flavium"
was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasiano and
dedicated in 80 AD by his son Titus. The popular name of
"Coliseum" came about because the immense oval
stadium was situated next to a colossal statue of Nero.
When Miller first saw the ancient ruin standing over 160
feet high with 80 entrances he was amazed at its height and
size. "I couldn't believe how advanced the architecture
of the Coliseum was. When you walk around it, you realize it
isn't much different than today's sports stadiums."
Holding upwards of 50,000 spectators, the Coliseum hosted
gladiator fights and wild animal hunts. Later in the Roman
Empire some battles were fought on chariots and occasionally
the arena floor was flooded for mock naval battles.
Miller pointed out the gladiators where similar to today's
sports-icons. "I don't think there is any comparison
between Marines and gladiators. They were superstars in
A successful gladiator was as famous as sports heroes are
today. Poets praised them, their portrait appeared on vases,
and patrician ladies pampered the victorious warriors. A
gladiator who survived several battles could win his
The majority of the gladiators were condemned criminals,
prisoners of war or slaves. Some free men and discharged
soldiers joined the bloody spectacle sport for the chance to
win the popularity of wealthy Romans. They volunteered to be
gladiators and by the end of the Republic made up half the
Cpl. Harvey Joiner, from Austin, Texas, researched the
weapons used by the gladiators before visiting the Coliseum.
Gladiators were armed with a wide range of deadly weapons,
from nets and tridents to swords and spears.
"They spilled blood and guts all over that place,"
Joiner said in a pointed tone. "The weapons they used
in those days were no joke."
In peacetime, Marines don't face death every day they go to
work but Miller revealed, "One common thread between
Marines and gladiators is the desire to be in the fight,
that adventure seeking warrior spirit."
The Houston Marine also noted that the motives behind the
Marine Corps warrior spirit are very different. "The
Marine who joins today doesn't do it for public recognition,
they join to make a difference," he said. "They
want to be the one on patrol or standing a post."
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