Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Female Gladiator? Or Girl with Strange Bathing Habits?
But now, scholars think she may actually be a gladiator. Why? Her posture is one of victory, as if she is holding up her sica, curved sword (used by fighters known as Thracians), in a moment of triumph.
Somebody about to scrape themselves wouldn't necessarily have cause to thrust the cleaning instrument up in celebration.
Also, she is looking down, possibly over her fallen opponent. Both the arm up and the looking down postures signal victory in the gladiatorial arena.
Also, her knee is bandaged, which would be more likely to expected of a fighter. Finally, she is wearing a loin cloth. Thracians fought only in loincloths. If she were in the baths, she'd be naked.
The arguments against her being a gladiator? No helmet. We rarely see depictions of gladiators without their helmets. This may have been an artistic choice, however, so that we could see her face. Also, it would be easy to imagine that the winner of a fight would throw his or her helmet off in victory as a sign that protection was no longer needed.
Also where is her shield? Thracian fighters used a square shield called a parma. Of course, the shield could have gone the way of her helmet--thrown aside in victory.
This little statue is a reminder of how much we don't know about the ancient world. And of how much everything we think we know is a matter of speculation.
I personally like to think that she is a gladiator. After all, a victory in the arena is much more interesting than imaging that this is a depiction of a young woman in the baths celebrating the defeat of the dastardly and dangerous draping of her....um, dress.