Statuette of a gladiator-pair
This is a toy statuette that indicates bravery and instills a will to win: Gladiators (from the Latin gladius, a short sword) were professional fighters in ancient Rome who fought against one another in public spectacles. Gladiator fights were part of Roman life from 264 BC until the beginning of the 5th century AD.
The first recorded gladiator games in Rome took place in 264 BC. Very soon followed the example of other Roman nobles who honoured their deceased with such munera (= services). Since this type of gladiator battle took place next to the pyre, called the Gladiators also bustuarii (Latin bustum, the stake).
The Roman historian Servius wrote:
"It was the custom of sacrificing captives on the graves of brave warriors, but as the cruelty of such custom was evident, it was decided to let them fight as gladiators in front of the tombs [...]" (Servius, Commentary on Virgil, Aeneid X 519)
Our replica is an example of a ceramic casting, after an original from the antiquities department of the Museum of Arts and Crafts in Hamburg from the 1st to the 3rd c. AD.
The attitude of the Romans towards the gladiators was ambivalent: on the one side gladiators were in the social hierarchy ranked lower than slaves, on the other hand, successful gladiators were celebrities, hallmarks of the old Roman virtue of the will to fight and win and to defy death with bravery. To both Cicero and Seneca dying gladiators were exemplua virtutis, examples of bravery:
"[...] What brave gladiators show in their death is dignity, let us do so, the men of all countries and peoples - rather we want to fall in honor, and not in the disgrace of slavery" (Cicero).
This credo he put into practice: Cicero died a "gladiator's death", as he willingly offered his neck to the sword of the mercenaries of Antony.
- Width of gladiators pairing: 11.5 cm
- Gladiators Height: 9cm
- genuine patinated alabaster gypsum
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