Rome: The tomb of a rich Roman general who is believed to be the inspiration for the main character of the Oscar winning movie Gladiator has been found on the outskirts of Rome.
Ongoing construction work along the northbound Via Flaminia uncovered the remains of a mausoleum that archaeologists believe to be at least fifteen metres long.
An inscription among the remains gives reason to believe that the tomb belongs to a patrician known as Marcus Nonius Macrinus, a proconsul who achieved major victories for Marcus Aurelius, emperor from 161 AD until his death in 180 AD.
Rome Superintendancy for Archaeology, Daniela Rossi says, "Thanks to the inscription we can say that it belonged to a well known figure from a family from Brescia in northern Italy, Marcus Nonius Macrinus. It was a figure with an absolutely unique 'corsus honorum' (curriculum): police commissioner, magistrate, proconsul of Asia, and 'commites' of the Emperor. He was very close to Marcus Aurelius who wanted him in the war against the Marcomanni"
"The movie character played by Russell Crowe leaves for and participates in these wars and is an intimate friend of Marcus Aurelius, chronologically we are in the same period and the war is the same, but the movie character has a very sad story and comes to a terrible end while ours becomes a rich and famous man," Rossi adds.
Macrinus, a favourite of the emperor, is thought to have been the inspiration for the writers of the Ridley Scott film when imagining the character played by Russell Crowe in the award winning epic.
Only parts of the tomb have been uncovered, but more remains are expected to come to light as excavations proceed.
Archaeologist Cristiano Ranieri says, "A huge flood which took place in the middle ages or in the early Renaissance stopped the work of medieval quarriers who were taking away marble blocks and sealed everything and, luckily for us, all the decorative part of the funeral monument of this General, Marcus Nonius Macrinus."