Clash of the Titans: Police Crack Down Gladiator Impersonators in Rome

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Alessandra Tarantino / File / AP

In this Sunday, April 18, 2003 file photo, people dressed as Roman centurions march in front of Rome's Colosseum.

Gladiators, real or not, are supposed to be honorable. Roman police are looking to restore the righteousness by clamping down on their un-chivalrous brethren.

The gladiators that pose for pictures outside the Colosseum are nothing new. But their aggression is. Police arrested 20 faux Romans who were strongarming the competition in an attempt to dominate the market.

Officers strapped on togas and sandals themselves to investigate the costumed combatants. When the disguised gladiator officers attempted to take pictures with tourists, the rival gladiators allegedly attacked them. That’s when other undercover police, dressed as tourists and garbage collectors, swooped in to arrest the aggressors. According to the BBC, the domineering gladiators were working with five tourist agencies to control the market.

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Hanging out by Rome’s prime historic spots, particularly the Colosseum and the Roman Forum, the gladiator impersonators have become a staple of the Roman tourist scene. They take pictures with visitors, usually charging a hefty fee – or at least guilting them into paying up to 10 euros ($14)

There is no regulation of the impersonators, but Rome is now considering legislation that would allow police to intervene in the case of aggressive behavior.

Perhaps the arrests will restore a semblance of chivalry in the gladiator community.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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