domenica 21 marzo 2010
The MURMILLO (left) was a type of gladiator during the Roman Imperial age. The myrmillio-class gladiator was adopted in the early Imperial period to replace the earlier Gallus, named after the warriors of Gaul. As the Gauls inhabiting Italy had become well-integrated with the Romans by the time of the reign of Augustus, it became politically incorrect to portray them as enemy outsiders; the Gallus-class gladiator thus had to be retired.
The distinguishing feature of the murmillo was the high crest of his helmet which, together with its broad rim, was shaped somewhat like a fish. The murmillo took his name from this fish-shaped helmet; the word comes from the Greek word for a type of saltwater fish.
Otherwise, he wore a loincloth (subligaculum), belt (balteus), very thick wrappings on the lower part of his left leg (designed to protect the top of his feet from attack and from his own shield), a gaiter on his right leg, a linen arm guard (manica) to protect his right arm, and the curved rectangular shield (scutum) of the Roman legionary. He also carried the legionary's short, straight-blade sword, or gladius, from which gladiators derived their name.
The murmillo usually fought the thraex or hoplomachus, with whom he shared some of the equipment (notably arm guards and all-enclosing helmet, and the dangerous short sword). A number of ancient authors, including Valerius Maximus and Quintillian, assert that he also regularly fought the retiarius. It would certainly have been an unusual pairing, contrasting a slow but heavily armoured gladiator with a fast but lightly equipped one. However, this pairing is disputed; visual depictions of murmillones show them fighting the thraex or hoplomachus rather than the retiarius.
Examples of the pairing between murmillones and other gladiator types can be seen in frescos and graffiti in Pompeii. In one well-preserved example, a murmillo named Marcus Atillus, who is credited with one match and one victory, is depicted standing over the defeated figure of Lucius Raecius Felix, a gladiator with 12 matches and 12 victories. His opponent is shown kneeling, disarmed and unhelmeted. The graffito records that Felix survived the fight and was granted his freedom (manumission).