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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 June, 2003, 15:38 GMT 16:38 UK
Graffiti vandal strikes in Gloucester
The Nerva statue [Courtesy of The Gloucester Citizen]
The statue was erected as a millennium project
A graffiti vandal has defaced the statue of a Roman emperor using grammatically correct Latin made famous in an episode of Monty Python.

The inscription "Romani ite domum" had been penned on the concrete plinth of the bronze statue of the Emperor Nerva in Gloucester.

The words, translated as "Romans go home", were spotted by teacher Michael Sergeant.

Gloucestershire Police said they believed the incident happened last week but have unsuccessfully examined CCTV footage for evidence of the culprits.

Mr Sergeant told BBC News Online: "Whoever did it was either very clever - as the Latin was correct - or had just seen Monty Python's The Life of Brian."

Gloucester founder

In the film, John Cleese is a centurion who comes across people writing anti-Roman slogans on the walls of Jerusalem, and makes them go round and correct the grammar.

A spokesperson for the city council said the graffiti was also spotted by its member for care and maintenance, Chris Witts, who arranged for it to be cleaned off.

The statue, in the city centre's Southgate Street, is of the Emperor who founded the Roman city Colonia Nerviana Glevensis, which became Gloucester, between 96 and 98AD.

Gloucester Civic Trust and the city council erected the statue as a millennium project.

Nerva, who reigned from 96 - 98AD, was the first of a series of five emperors generally thought to have been among Rome's finest.

His successors were Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius.

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