The House of the Gladiators at Pompeii?
I am sure that one of the reasons that it has got so much media attention is the "Gladiators" bit (on the iron law of journalism that that word "gladiator" gets you ten times as many readers as just mere "Romans").But we have to forget all that. There is no reason at all to connect this house to any gladiators, ever. Still less to imagine, as the Telegraph has it, that "it would have been the residence for gladiators in Pompeii". The truth is that we dont know what this building was. The only clue is that there were cupboards found inside (though not actually containing weapons, as is often claimed -- for the reliable story on this, go to the excellent Blogging Pompeii site).And the painted decoration is full of weapons and figures of Victory etc. It used to be thought to be the HQ of the city's youth organisation; others have thought -- I seem to remember -- that it was a record office of some sort. But there's no reason to believe any of these ideas.
And why has it just collapsed?
The world's press has pointed fingers at the Pompeii archaeological authorities, with cries of neglect etc. But there is more to it than that.
For as start, it ill behoves the British to wring their hands over this little building. After all, we bombed it in World War II. What has collapsed is in fact the reconstruction of the building that was put up after that.
Besides, as Jo Berry fully explains in Blogging Pompeii, this part of the site has a big structural problem which is nothing at all to do with neglect. It has a great wedge of unexcavated land behind it, which puts a hell of a pressure on the houses at its edges.
It is not something that will be solved by putting the site in private hands; quite the reverse in fact.