Veni vidi vandalize | Marcel Strigberger

By Marcel Strigberger

Law360 Canada (July 14, 2023, 4:21 PM EDT) --
Marcel Strigberger
Marcel Strigberger
“What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

I guess Shakespeare never visited the Colloseum in Rome.

One Ivan Dimitrov, fitness instructor from Bristol, England, was visiting Rome recently with his girlfriend when he decided to approach the Colloseum and key in on the wall the inscription “Ivan and Haley.”

Unfortunately a gentleman from California noticed Ivan’s sentimental endeavour, and he filmed it and put it online, where it has supposedly been viewed by millions.

Dimitrov was readily traced by police. Not surprisingly all roads led to Ivan Dimitrov.

To his credit the 27-year-old has apologized profusely, noting “I’lI admit with profound embarrassment that only after what regretfully happened did I learn of the antiquity of the monument."

Hey, what is it with this dude? Antiquity? This is the 2,000-year-old Roman Colloseum. What did he think it was? A condominium? I like this place. Maybe I’ll just scribble our names down on the wait list.

What can happen to the guy now? He would like to think in Roman justice the concept of de minimis will prevail.

Italy’s culture minister Gennaro Sangiuliano, however, has branded the vandalism an “uncivilized and absurd act” which had “offended all those throughout the world who appreciate the value of archaeology, monuments and history.”

He added: “Now I hope that justice will take its course by rigorously applying the laws.”

If the minister’s sentiments catch on to the prosecution, Dimitrov may be a beneficiary of that other Latin maxim, namely habeas corpus, or in this case habeas buttus.

After all, in sentencing the judge must consider the principle of general deterrence. It seems this type of vandalism has happened before. In addition to some folks scribbling their monikers or other messages on the Colloseum, one guy even snatched a brick which he tried to smuggle out in his pocket. I don’t know what ever happened to these people. I watched the epic movie Ben Hur again recently and all I can think of is prisoners getting banished to those galleys. I’m not sure now what Ben Hur’s crime was. It would not surprise me if the Romans framed him by having someone go to the Colloseum and scratch the wall with the words, “Ben Hur and Molly.” Who knows?

This type of vandalism if not checked by the authorities can lead to even more serious monument or art damage.   

I would hate to think what smuggling idea some loony might get while visiting the Galleria butdell’Accademia di Firenze in Florence, while standing in front of Michelangelo’s statue of David. The temptation is hanging out there.

Fortunately I believe the Galleria makes you check in your large backpacks.

I would say Ivan Dimitrov’s lawyer has his work cut out for him. My suggestion is that at the sentencing hearing he takes an approach that worked well historically. I think of Shakespeare again. The lawyer might open with:

“Your Honour, and friends, Romans, countrymen. Lend me your ears. My client comes to bury this silly act, not praise it. “

(I suggest the lawyer should not mention that condominium.)

Whatever happens I wonder why millions would spend time watching the video. Don’t they have more productive ways of spending their time? What pleasure do they derive from viewing it? 

“Hey George, what are you looking at? Dinner’s ready.”

“I’ll be with you in minute honey. Firstly I want to see a guy scratching his name on the Colloseum wall.  Ahhh …”

The world is loco.

Marcel Strigberger retired from his Greater Toronto Area litigation practice and continues the more serious business of humorous author and speaker. His just launched book Boomers, Zoomers, and Other Oomers: A Boomer-biased Irreverent Perspective on Aging is now available on Amazon, (e-book) and paper version. Visit Follow him @MarcelsHumour.

The opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the author’s firm, its clients, Law360 Canada, LexisNexis Canada, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.

Interested in writing for us? To learn more about how you can add your voice to Law360 Canada, contact Analysis Editor Peter Carter at or call 647-776-6740.