This interesting article is in The Daily Mail. Very cool stuff about gladiators and tombstones.
Roman gladiator’s gravestone blames poor refereeing for losing a key battle (and his life)
Scientist finally decodes epitaph on tombstone
By Daily Mail Reporter
His tomb was unearthed about 100 years ago, but the meaning of the inscription on his gravestone has remained a mystery – until now.
Scientist Michael Carter, of Brock University in Canada, has studied hundreds of inscriptions on gladiator gravestones.
He has now decoded that of Diodorus and claims it is unique in that it actually tells the story of his death.
Written from the gladiator’s own perspective, it reads: ‘After breaking my opponent Demetrius, I did not kill him immediately. Fate and the cunning treachery of the summa rudis killed me.’
The ‘summa rudis’ refers to a veteran gladiator who would have refereed the fight during which Diodorus lost his life.
Therefore, when the slain warrior’s friends and family composed the inscription for his gravestone, they were clearly in no doubt as to where the blame lay.
The epitaph also includes an engraving that Dr Carter believes explains the circumstances leading up to his death.
Diodorus can be seen standing over his fallen opponent, called Demetrius, while holding two swords.
Dr Carter suggests this means Diodorus had managed to get hold of Demetrius’s sword while he was on the ground.
But the summa rudis ruled that Demetrius had fallen over by accident, meaning he would have been allowed to get up and resume fighting.
‘Demetrius signals surrender, but Diodorus doesn’t kill him,’ Dr Carter said. ‘He backs off expecting that he’s going to win the fight.
‘What the summa rudis has obviously done is stepped in, stopped the fight, allowed Demetrius to get back up again, take back his shield, take back his sword, and then resume the fight.’
It was then that the fatal blow was struck and Diodorus was killed, a turn of events that clearly appalled the gladiator’s loved ones.
The epitaph was donated to the Musée du Cinquanternaire in Brussels shortly before the First World War.
Dr Carter’s study is published in the Journal for Papyrology and Ancient Epigraphics.
Console yourself concerning your fallen comrades with some…