Happy 2,756th birthday to Rome/Happy 2,756th birthday to Rome/Happy Birthday to Gladiators and Barbarians/Happy 2,756th birthday to you! - Jonah

Ancient Gladiators Reclaim Rome for a Day

(Reuters, 4/22/03)

ROME (Reuters) - Hundreds of gladiators and warriors marched along Rome's ancient Appia Antica military road to the Colosseum on Monday to mark the city's 2,756th birthday.

"This is a triumphant parade like those that greeted emperors returning from conquering new territories," said "Nero," a Roman gladiator also known as Sergio Iacomoni.

"This is our passion, we've been working all year for this," said Iacomoni, dressed in hand-made leather sandals and surrounded by comrades in red tunics and metal helmets beating drums and bearing lances.

Iacomoni founded the Gruppo Storico Romano in 1994 which organized Monday's march. It attracted barbarians in animal pelts from France and Hungary to mark the anniversary of the mythological founding of Rome in 753 BC by Romulus and Remus.

"After almost 2,000 years, Rome is ours again," said Iacomoni, who founded a gladiator school for history buffs to learn ancient fighting arts. "If only for a day."