Monday, November 21, 2022


Epitaph of Philokynegos the Gladiator

Reinhold Merkelbach and Josef Stauber, Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten, Bd. 2: Die Nordküste Kleinasiens (Marmarasee und Pontos) (Munich: K.G. Saur, 2001), pp. 235-236 (09/09/01, from Claudiopolis in Cilicia, 2nd century AD; click once or twice to enlarge):
Simplified transcription of the Greek, followed by my translation:
ὁ τὸ πάλαι παίζων, πᾶσιν δὲ λέγων τὰ γελοῖα
δεῦρ' ἴδε πῶς κατάκειμαι μόνος μόνος· ἄλλο γὰρ οὐδέν·
Φιλοκύνηγος ἐγὼ Μακεδών ῥητιάρις ἄλειπτος
τῷ χαλκεῖ στεφάνῳ μοῖραν ἴσην ἔλαχον.

Ἀνατολὴ Φιλοκυνήγῳ ἀνδρὶ ἐκ τῶν ἰδίων αὐτοῦ μνήμης χάριν.

The one who formerly played and told jokes to everyone,
see how I lie down here alone, alone, for (there is) nothing else;
I, Philokynegos, a Macedonian, undefeated net fighter,
obtained by chance the same fate as the bronze ring.

Anatole (set up this monument for her) husband Philokynegos from his own (funds), in honor of his memory.
Net fighter = Latin retiarius.

Merkelbach and Stauber explain the bronze ring as follows:
Es ist anscheinend die Rede von dem Bronzereif, an welchem das Netz des Retiarius befestigt war; entweder fing der Netzkämpfer den Gegner mit seinem Netz, oder der Gegner demolierte den Ring. So wie der Ring zerstört wurde, so jetzt die ganze Person des Retiarius.
The reference is apparently to the bronze ring attached to the net of the net fighter; either the net fighter caught his opponent with his net, or the opponent demolished the ring. As the ring was destroyed, so now the whole person of the net fighter is destroyed.
For a joke told by a net fighter, see Roger Dunkle, Gladiators: Violence and Spectacle in Ancient Rome (2008; rpt. London: Routledge, 2013), p. 105 (footnote omitted):
Festus ... quotes a humorous song sung (or recited) by a retiarius to a Gaul (the gladiator type): 'I do not attack you, I attack a fish. Why do you flee me, Gaul?' Festus explains that the murmillo was an offshoot of the Gaul, whose helmet was decorated with the image of a fish.
Pauli Festus p. 359 Lindsay:
Retiario pugnanti adversus murmillonem cantatur: "Non te peto, piscem peto, quid me fugis, Galle?" quia murmilionicum genus armaturae Gallicum est, ipsique murmillones ante Galli appellabantur; in quorum galeis piscis effigies inerat.

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