Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Marble relief fragment with gladiators

1st–3rd century A.D.
H. 14 in (35.6 cm); width 13 3/4 in (34.9 cm); depth 4 1/8 in (10.5 cm)
Stone Sculpture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1957
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 168
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.
Inscription: Inscriptions have been interpreted to read "Delphinos and Narkissos" which are the names of combatants.
Recorded in 1882 in the Vigna Aquari in Rome

1882, recorded in the Vigna Aquari, Rome; [until 1957, with Hesperia Art]; acquired in 1957, purchased from Hesperia Art, Philadelphia.
Matz, Friedrich. 1882. Antike Bildwerke in Rom, mit Ausschluss der grösseren Sammlungen, Vol. 3. no. 3804, p. 158, Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel.

Lovatelli, Ersilia Caetani Contessa. 1895. "Di un fremmento marmoreo con rilievi gladiatorii." Bullettino della Commissione archeologica Comunale di Roma, 23: no. 14, p. 262.

Robert, Louis. 1940. Les Gladiateurs dans l’Orient Grec. p. 296 n. 7, Paris: E. Champion.

von Bothmer, Dietrich. 1961. "Etruscan, Greek, and Roman: Sculptures in the Recent Accessions Room." Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 19(6): pp. 183–84, fig. 5.

Robert, Louis. 1961. "Bulletin Épigraphique." Révue des Études Grecques, 74: p. 266 n. 852.

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

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

Coarelli, Filippo. 2001. The Colosseum, Ada Gabucci, ed. p. 79, Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum.

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

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