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Marble relief fragment with gladiators

Period:
Imperial
Date:
1st–3rd century A.D.
Culture:
Roman
Medium:
Marble
Dimensions:
H. 14 in (35.6 cm); width 13 3/4 in (34.9 cm); depth 4 1/8 in (10.5 cm)
Classification:
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1957
Accession Number:
57.11.7
  • Description

    Gladiatorial shows were essentially a Roman phenomenon, but their popularity quickly spread to the Greek cities of the eastern part of the Empire. This fragmentary relief with its Greek inscription is evidence for the existence of gladiators in the Greek-speaking world. The scene shows two types of gladiators pitted against each other in the arena.
    In the Imperial period, there were seven main types of fighter; each was known by a different name, wore distinctive armor, and carried specific weapons. Most were heavily armed and wore helmets; these were the murmillo, thrax, hoplomachus, provocator, and secutor. In addition, there were the eques, who only fought against another eques since the contest started on horseback, and the retiarius, who was lightly armed with a trident, wore no helmet, and carried a net. Here a retiarius is being pursued by a secutor, and behind them to the left is part of the stage scenery or props that often featured in the games.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscriptions have been interpreted to read "Delphinos and Narkissos" which are the names of combatants.

  • Provenance

    Recorded ca. 1880 in the Vigna Aquari in Rome

  • References

    Weitzmann, Kurt. 1979. Age of Spirituality: Late Antique and Early Christian Art, Third to Seventh Century New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 82, p. 92.

    Carratelli, Giovanni Pugliese and Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli. 1994. Enciclopedia dell'Arte Antica, Classica e Orientale: Atlante delle Forme Ceramiche, Suppl. 2, Vol. 2. Rome: Instituto della Enciclopedia Italiana, p. 792, fig. 907.

    Kampen, Natalie Boymel, Elizabeth Marlowe, and Rebecca M. Moholt. 2002. What Is a Man? Changing Images of Masculinity in Late Antique Art. Portland: Reed College, pp. 73-75, pl.39.

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