Statuette of a Gladiator
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Bruce White Photography
Gift of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman

Roman, about A.D. 50
2 5/16 in.

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With the closed visor of his helmet completely covering his face, a gladiator strides forward in an attack. A curved rectangular shield protects his left arm and he holds his short sword in his right hand. He wears a variety of other armor including a metal belt at his waist, leather straps wrapped around his right arm and his thighs, and greaves protect his shins.

Gladiatorial combats were an extremely popular form of entertainment in the Roman world. Gladiators were mostly men with few other options, such as slaves, criminals, or prisoners of war, although a few free men chose this risky career. Every gladiator had a specialty, identified by his armor and weapons. Many of the standard types originated from prisoners of war fighting in their native armor. Due to the sport's popularity, small figures of gladiators, made of either terracotta or bronze, were manufactured throughout the Roman empire. The specialty of this figure is difficult to identify. He wears a combination of the weaponry of the myrmillo --a type of gladiator of Gallic origin--and the more heavily-armed hoplomachus or shield fighter.