You would expect a battle between gladiators to take place in Rome’s Coliseum.
But tourists witnessed dramatic scenes outside the famous attraction this week as undercover police – some dressed up as gladiators – carried out a sting operation on ‘fake’ centurions.
The officers swooped on the men after reports from tourists and holiday companies that they were threatening and intimidating people into paying as much as 50 euros to have their photographs taken.
The practice of posing for pictures with locals dressed as gladiators is very popular in Rome and tourists are normally expected to tip 10 euros for the service.
But the group of imposters were accused of scaring visitors into paying sky-high prices and even threatening fully licensed gladiators.
The gang operated at famous sights in Rome, including the Vatican, Colosseum and the Piazza Venezia in the centre of the city and a total of 20 people were arrested as part of the crackdown.
Tourists watched stunned as the fake gladiators, dressed in tunics, sandals and carrying swords, were wrestled to the ground by the undercover officers and handcuffed.
Police even disguised themselves as gladiators, bin men and members of the public so they could carry out the operation.
The fake gladiators should consider themselves lucky. The penalty for theft in Rome 2,000 years ago was death by crucifixion.