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U3A Writing: Being Remembered

Despite our details being stored in computers, John Ricketts doubts that we will be remembered for as long as some Romans.

Have you ever thought how will you be remembered when you are no longer here? I certainly have.

In the past most people lived and died and were soon forgotten. A few of the better sort were remembered on grave stones or on the plaques which deface the beauty of ancient churches. It seems that nowadays we are never destined to be forgotten. Details of our births and deaths are photographed on to microfiche and stored in computers. So we are immortalised without conscious effort on our part, but in the future no one will know what we looked like.

Important people have often had the ambition to leave likenesses behind them. We know what the Roman emperors looked like, though probably not with warts and all. Their marble busts are practically everlasting. Paint lasts less well but a good portrait can tell us what someone looked like for several hundred years. But busts and portraits cost money and ordinary people going about their business canít afford them.

Yet when I was on holiday at the beginning of the year I saw a series of pictures of poor people going about their work. They were probably slaves whose names were Bullarius, Hilarian, Spittara, Mamertinus and a fifth whose name is lost. Their work was dangerous because they fought in the arena against lions, leopards and other wild animals. They appear in a mosaic in Sousse in Tunisia which was found near the Roman arena in the town and is from the first half of the third century.

The mosaic seems to be advertising games to be held in the near future, with these gladiators taking part. In the centre is the patron of the games with a tray bearing prizes for the best performances. On either side of him are comments on the prowess of the participants.

I doubt very much if the football gladiators of today will be remembered as long.

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