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The Colosseum, attributed to Robert Eaton, c. 1855.
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Monumental Mistakes


Fitness instructor carves his girlfriend’s name into the Colosseum.

c. 1850:

Thompson of Sunderland makes his mark on Pompey’s pillar.


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Volume XV, Number 1 | spring 2023


A public announcement from 156 bc offers a reward of three talents of copper for the recapture of an eighteen-year-old Syrian-born slave named Hermon who has escaped from an Alexandria household; two talents to anyone who “points him out in a temple”; five if he is found “in the house of a substantial and actionable man.” The advertisement notes that Hermon “has taken with him three octa­drachms of coined gold, ten pearls, an iron ring…and is wearing a cloak and a loincloth”; that he has “a mole by the left side of the nose”; and that he is “tattooed on the right wrist with two barbaric letters.”

Let us make our own mistakes, but let us take comfort in the knowledge that they are our own mistakes.

—Tom Mboya, 1958

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