Friday, November 04, 2022


Epitaph of Victor the Gladiator

Reinhold Merkelbach and Josef Stauber, edd., Steinepigramme aus dem griechischen Osten, Bd. 4: Die Südküste Kleinasiens, Syrien und Palaestina (München: K.G. Säur, 2002), p. 56, no. 17/10/05, from Xanthos in Lykia, 2nd century AD (click once or twice to enlarge):
Werner Peek, Griechische Vers-Inschriften, Vol. I: Grab-Epigramme (Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1955), p. 151, number 621:
Simplified transcription of the Greek followed by my translation:
Βίκτορα πᾶλον αʹ σεκούτορα

Βίκτορα τὸν στεναρόν με σεκούτορα νῦν ἐσορᾶτε,
    ὃν πάντες τρόμεον σύνζυγοι ἐν σταδίοις·
οὗ πατρὶς ἦν Λιβύη· νῦν δὲ Ξάνθοιό με γαία
Αυξάνιον δάπεδον κατέχει σὺν δόγματι Μοιρο͂ν.
παῖζε, γέλα, παροδεῖτα, βλέπων ὅτι καὶ σὲ θανεῖν δεῖ.

Ἀμαζὼν Βίκτορι ἀνδρὶ ἰδίῳ ἐκ το͂ν ἑαυτοῦ μνείας χάριν τὸν βωμόν. εἴ τις δὲ καθελὼν ὀρύξῃ, δώσει εἰς τὸν φίσκον (δηνάρια) φʹ.

χαίρεται, παροδεῖται.

Victor, first-rank [primus palus], chaser [secutor].

Now look upon me, Victor, the strong chaser,
before whom all my yoke-fellows trembled in the arena.
My fatherland was Libya; but now the land of Xanthos,
the Auxanian plain, holds me by decree of the Fates.
Play, laugh, o passerby, seeing that you too must die.

Amazon (set up) the altar in memory of her husband Victor at her own expense. But whoever tears it down and digs up (the spot) will give 500 denarii to the treasury.

Farewell, o passersby.
χαίρεται = χαίρετε

Roger Dunkle, Gladiators: Violence and Spectacle in Ancient Rome (2008; rpt. London: Routledge, 2013), p. 45, with notes on p. 316:
Each category of gladiators was divided into four segments named after the post used for training exercises: first, second, third and fourth palus.87 Gladiators of the same gladiatorial type were ranked in these hierarchical groups according to the number of times they had been victorious in the arena. For example, all the thraeces in the school were divided in these four ranks. Robert notes that, in inscriptions, gladiators very seldom mention their membership in the two lowest classes (tertius and quartus palus).88 There was no glory in advertising membership in these lowest ranked groups. On the other hand, gladiators trumpeted their membership in the primus and secundus palus89. [....] The primus palus in each category of fighting style consisted of the most successful gladiators in the ludus, while the quartus palus contained those with the smallest number of victories. The gladiator in training, called a tiro ('apprentice'), could become a part of this ranking system only when he was promoted to the status of 'veteran' after his first bout, if he survived. In fact, many tirones never received that promotion because they were killed in their first bout. [....] The leader of a group of gladiators of the same type (thraeces, murmillones, etc.) in a school received a title derived from name of the highest-ranked group in that category. He was called the primus palus. For example, the emperor Commodus, whose fantasy of gladiatorial glory was nourished by his unbalanced mind, considered himself the leading secutor ('pursuer') in that category in Rome and thus was given (or took) the title of primus palus, which entitled him to a special cell in what was probably the largest gladiatorial school in the empire, the Ludus Magnus in Rome.

87 See Robert, Les Gladiateurs, 29 and Marcus Junkelmann, 'Familia Gladiatoria: The Heroes of the Amphitheater', in Eckart Köhne and Cornelia Ewigleben (eds), The Power of Spectacle in Ancient Rome: Gladiators and Caesars (Berkeley, CA, 2000) 32–3. Ville (La Gladiature, 324, n. 217) points out that the hierarchical ranking for each type of gladiator in the ludus did not exist until after the reign of Domitian (AD 81–96). Carter (Gladiatorial Ranking and the 'SC de Pretiis Gladiatorum Minuendis' (CIL II 6278 = ILS 5163) Phoenix 57.1/2 (2003) 90) suggests the possibility of the existence of a sixth, and even an eighth palus in some schools.

88 Les Gladiateurs, 30–1.

89 Inscriptions 16, 35, 89, 179, 293, 298 in Robert, Les Gladiateurs. See Cass. Dio 72.22.3.
Id., p. 108, fig. 16, a mosaic showing a retiarius, referee, and secutor:
David Magie, Roman Rule in Asia Minor to the End of the Third Century after Christ (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), p. 534 (Vol. I), with note on p. 1393 (Vol. II):
This process of Romanization appears also in the introduction of spectacles of the kind popular in Italy. [....] But after Lycia was made a Roman province, it became customary for wealthy men to present gladiatorial combats as well as wild-beast fights and hunts for the entertainment of their fellow-citizens. Spectacles of this kind were given at Oenoanda for two days by Licinius Longus on the occasion of his election as Lyciarch, at Myra and Patara by Opramoas at the time when he held this office, and at Telmessus and the Temple of Leto near Xanthus, respectively, by a federal and a local priest of the Augusti.64 The presence of gladiators at Telmessus and Xanthus, moreover, is shown by monuments erected after their death.

64. I.G.R. III 492 and 500 III (Oenoanda): T.A.M. II 905 = I.G.R. III 739, c.59 (Myra and Patara): T.A.M. II 15 = I.G.R. III 539 (Telmessus): T.A.M. II 287 = I.G.R. III 631 (Xanthus). See also T.A.M. III 143 = I.G.R. III 527 (Lydae). If the honorific inscription from Pinara, T.A.M. II 508 = I.G.R. III 681, is really to be dated in the first century before Christ (see above note 34), the mention of wild-beast fights and hunts presented at Tlos, Pinara, Cyaneae (?), Corydalla (?) and Telmessus shows that spectacles of this kind antedated the annexation of Lycia. The λουσώριον at Termessus Minor (I.G.R. III 481 = 1501 = Dessau 8870) and the βουκονιστήριον at Oenoanda (I.G.R. III 484) were presumably arenas in which fights were held. For the monuments of gladiators see T.A.M. II 355 (primus ? palus secutor) and 356 (primus palus myrmillonum) from Xanthus: T.A.M. II 117 (secunda rudis [Samniti]um, with portrait) from Telmessus. The man portrayed as a retiarius who σὺν τῶν συνκελλαρίων made a dedication to Hermes at Telmessus (T.A.M. II 107 = I.G.R. III 541) was evidently a gladiator. For gladiatorial combats and wild-beast hunts in the eastern provinces in general see L. Robert Les Gladiateurs dans l'Orient Grec (Paris 1940) and Chap. XXVII note 60.
Related post: Epitaph of a Gladiator (with a line almost identical to παῖζε, γέλα, παροδεῖτα, βλέπων ὅτι καὶ σὲ θανεῖν δεῖ above).

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