A few years ago whle my wife was away for a week on work, I sat at home each night and watched the movie
Gladiator. Yup, I watched it like 8 times over the course of the
week. A bit odd, huh? What can I say, it was a momentary addiction, fleeting and a bit strange, but there was something
about the film (especially the battles scenes) that made we want to indulge in it again and again. This was, of course,
when Russell Crowe was better known for his sword play than for hurling phones at hotel workers.
Anyway, I kicked the habit, of course, and haven’t popped the DVD in for a while now, but I was reminded of this
peculiar moment of personal history when I read about the efforts of Stellan Lind in Jordan.
Lind is a Swede, a former executive in the pharmaceutical industry who was so entranced by the chariot scenes in the
film Ben Hur that he went to Jordan and petitioned the government to allow him to establish
a company that does
recreations of the
chariot races amid the ancient ruins of Jaresh, Jordan. The show is known as “The Roman Army and Chariot
Experience” or simply by its acronym RACE and features former Jordanian soldiers who play gladiators and compete in
Lind oversees the races wearing a toga and a purple sash (although he says adamantly that he in no way wants to be
regarded as emperor…sure he doesn’t). Orders are given in Latin and the goal, says an announcer before each
reenactment, is to destroy a “hoard of barbarians that deserve no mercy”. Odd, but you have to admit that you’d check
it out if you were in the neighborhood.
There is also a story about it on