Sunday, December 9, 2012



THE tomb of the Roman general and statesman who inspired GLADIATOR and THE FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE is to be reburied because Italy does not have enough money to restore it and protect it from the elements.

Marcus Nonius Macrinus was a legend in his own time. 

He was a general and consul who achieved major victories in military campaigns for Antoninus Pius, the Roman emperor from 138 to 161 A.D., and Marcus Aurelius, emperor from 161 to 180 A.D.

He made headlines in modern times when his tomb was discovered on the banks of the Tiber near the VIA FLAMINIA north of Rome in 2008.

But now lack of funding is forcing Italian archaeologists to bury again the large marble monument. 

It is hoped that the reburial is only a temporary measure to protect the marble. But the precarious financial situation in Italy jeopardizes the future of this and many other archaeological projects throughout the country.

Although the tomb collapsed in antiquity because of floods, its marble columns, carvings and friezes remained perfectly preserved, sealed by the Tiber's mud.

Rome's officials had planned to fully reconstruct the monumental tomb as the centerpiece of a new archaeological park, but the project failed due to a tight budget and a lack of private sponsors.

"It is a painful choice, but we cannot risk losing the monument. The marbles can't face another winter, we must bury the site in order to preserve it," Mariarosaria Barbera, Rome's archaeological superintendent, told the daily La Repubblica.

Born in Brescia in northern Italy in 138 A.D., Macrinus was one of Marcus Aurelius's favorite men. 

His life is believed to have inspired the fictional character Maximus Decimus Meridius played by Russell Crowe (above) in Ridley Scott's film as well as a very similar character in the 1964 blockbuster which starred Stephen Boyd as a general who ended up in the gladiatorial arena fighting Emperor Commodus to the death.

In both movies, the general is a favorite of Marcus Aurelius and ends up killing Commodus, but this is where the similarities end. 

In reality, Marcus Nonius Macrinus went on to enjoy a successful career and died a wealthy man. His tomb attests to his high standing and wealth.

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