HE made news worldwide for transforming his terraced home into a shrine to the honour of Caesar.
Now Tony “The Roman” Jose has revealed his personal empire’s first glorious conquest – his local pub.
Eighteen months ago, he hit the headlines as Maximus Decimus Meridius, warrior commander of the armies of Gilesgate.
Loading article content
But it turns out the Roman fanatic has a softer side too.
Inspired by the majestic marble busts of antiquity, Mr Jose, a 67-year-old retired lorry driver, has sketched 50 mounted likenesses of regulars at the Last Orders – and they now line the walls of the pub, in Gilesgate, Durham City.
The Latin influence does not stop there. Drinkers often greet each other with a Roman-style wrist-grabbing handshake and bid farewell wishing, “Strength and Honour”.
Unveiling his artwork in full Roman regalia, Mr Jose said: “It started off with one drawing.
Now people are always asking me. I love it.
“I love nothing better at night time than, if I’ve got someone to draw, sitting down and doing one of these.”
Among the busts are Kevin, aka Praetorian – so named because he’s Mr Jose’s “guard”; Peter, named Titus because of his alleged tight-fistedness; and David, dubbed Potus due to his pool-playing skills.
Landlady Caroline Swainston said: “Everyone thinks they’re great. It’s something different.
“People tell me they want one.
I say: ‘You’ll have to see the Roman’.”
Mr Jose’s Roman obsession began after watching the hit film Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe.
He has since devoted himself to reading books and watching films on the subject, making pilgrimages to Rome, wearing armour and transforming his Gilesgate home.
The grandfather’s Imperial adventures have recently included charity appearances and weekly Sunday marches. He also delivers copies of the Durham Advertiser aboard a chariot converted from a mobility scooter and he hopes to appear on the next series of TV’s Britain’s Got Talent.
“I do get people taking the mick. I just say I’m doing it for charity,” he said.
“The Romans left a legacy in England which is still with us now, 2,000 years later. They say the Romans were cruel. But I like the gear and the clothes.”