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Animated and Rare Roman Bronze Murmillo Gladiator

Animated and Rare Roman Bronze Murmillo Gladiator


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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Ancient World: Roman: Pre AD 1000: Item # 1278900
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290 Fillmore St. #D
Denver, CO. 80206
303-321-7351 gallery

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 $9,675.00 
$9,675.00

This rare Roman bronze figurine is a standing gladiator that dates circa 1st-early 2nd century A.D. This bronze figurine is approximately 3.4 inches high, and is mounted on a custom display stand. This animated figurine is a standing gladiator, who is seen raising his left arm to the brim of his helmet, and has his left leg raised as if it is resting on his adversary. His raised left arm may be a signal either to spare or kill his adversary who is perhaps laying injured on the ground. The animated pose of the gladiator depicted here, with his raised arm and hand signal, is scarce to rare relative to Roman bronze gladiator figurines of this type, and is seldom seen on the market. The gladiator depicted here is also a "Murmillo" type, as he is seen wearing a "Cassis Crista", which is a broad-rimmed helmet based on the prior Greek Boeotian type, and the large helmet seen here has an enclosed double face visor, a forward raised crested plume, rounded eye visors, and decorative minute fish scale elements that are seen on the outer bowl. The helmet also has some minute details showing the double opening for the face visor, and this helmet is classified as the "Pompeii G Type", which is rarely seen on Roman bronze gladiatorial figurines as the more common "Berlin G Type". Early gladiatorial helmets, including the ones found at Pompeii, had round eye apertures for the eyes, and were often screened with removable round or semi-circular grating plates, and in addition, the visor grating also consisted of two halves that joined at the front, forming a vertical rib as seen on the exceptional example offered here. The helmet details noted above, relative to the "Pompeii G Type", are seldom seen on Roman bronzes of this type, and is another feature that makes this piece a very desirable example. This figurine is also seen wearing an arm guard on his right arm which is known as a "Manica", which was usually made of thick cotton quilt, leather, and some metal alloys. This gladiator is also seen holding a short sword in his right hand known as a "Gladius", and protective greaves on both shins. In addition, his right leg is seen wrapped with a protective covering which was used to kick at his adversary, and he is wearing a wide leather belt known as a "Balteus". This figurine also appears to be bare chested as well. There is also a palm branch "Palma" seen on his back side, and this was an award for victory in the arena. On receiving his awards, the gladiator made a lap of honor around the arena, waving his palm branch. (See "Gladiator: Rome's Bloody Spectacle" by Konstantin Nossov, Osprey Pub., United Kingdom, 2009.) The name "Murmillo" is derived from "Mormylos", meaning "seafish", and is sometimes spelled "Myrmillo". This name also alludes to the fish-scale design seen on the outer bowl of the helmet seen here. The "Murmillo" usually fought the "Thraex" or the "Hoplomachus", with whom he shared some of the equipment (notibly the arm guards, the all-enclosing helmet, and the dangerous "Gladius" short sword). The "Murmillo" fighting style was best suited for a man with large muscular arms and strong heavy shoulders that were needed to carry the weight of his shield and sword. Men who played the "Murmillo" were usually shorter and more muscular than most gladiators. The "Murmillo" depended on his strength and endurance to survive the battle against foes who were lighter armed and were suited for attacking. The figurine seen here also appears to be a short, muscular individual. The piece offered here is complete, save for the lower feet that are broken off, and this may have been done as this piece may have been a votive offering, and the breaking of the lower feet would keep the magic and spirit of the figurine in the grave. There also appears to be a shield hanging under the left arm, and a small fragment of this is missing. Overall, the condition of this piece is superb, and has nice detail with a nice even dark green patina, with minute spotty red highlights. (An analogous piece, without the minute detail that the piece offered here displays, was offered in Christie's Antiquities, London, Oct. 2003, lot. 13. Approximately 3.1 inches high, $3,400.00-$5,100.00 estimates, $5,593.00 realized.) The piece offered here has also been mounted on a custom display stand, and is a rare type seldom seen on the market. Ex: Private German collection, circa 1970's. (Note: Additional documentation is available to the purchaser.) I certify that this piece is authentic as to date, culture, and condition: