I heard someone say recently that "gladiatrix" is a modernism, and they were actually called something else- is there any basis for that?The real women gladiators of Rome:
topless and erotic, but still deadly in fight
Not only men fight in the arenas of antiquity, as this statue of a gladiatrix in victorious pose shows. Gladiatrices in Rome were a rare sight, but they are historically documented.
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An almost naked gladiatrix in victory pose with a sica, a curved dagger,
helmet and shield was presumably removed by the fighter
(bronze statue from a museum in Hamburg, origin Italy, 1st century AD).
This small bronze statue is one of only two previously known depictions of a female gladiator. The bare-breasted woman with a loincloth and knee protection stands with her head bowed and arm raised, where she carries her weapon, a sica - in Roman art this is a typical victory pose of the gladiators. The sica, the short, curved dagger, was used by gladiators of the Thraex type and was particularly useful for attacking the unprotected back of the opponent.
The gesture could also explain why the woman is not wearing a helmet or shield. At the end of a competition they put their helmet off, so that all viewers could see the winner’s face, and she threw her shield to the ground.
The bare upper body was the rule among gladiators, men fought with bare chests and women with bare breasts. However, the naked body of these women remains largely hidden behind their shield during the fight.
If you consider the mostly male audience at such competitions, her greeting and even more this winning pose of an almost naked woman undoubtedly had a great erotic effect on the audience. But certainly there were some nice looks from the side even during the woman's fight.
The only other known representation of a gladiatrix fight is a relief from the 2nd century from a Roman site in today’s Turkish city of Bodrum (former Halicarnassos, today as an exhibit in the British Museum in London). Even the names of these fighting women have been handed down to us: Amazona and Achilla, obviously the gladiatrices had given themselves special "warlike names" for the fight.
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The rarity of these finds suggests that there were comparatively few competitions with women gladiators in ancient times. But references to such events can also be found in reports by Roman historians.
There are eyewitness accounts about gladiatrices in Rome, and according to the Roman writer Suetonius from the 1st century, the Emperor Domitian let women fight at night by torchlight. In 200, another emperor, Septimius Severus, is said to have banned gladiatorial fights with women.
Here follows an artist's reproduction of the fight between Amazona and Achilla:
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The artistic painting as well as the historic relief show two women gladiators, who have just been honorably released from the arena by the audience, which is enthusiastic about the fight after a draw. The tie ending a fight (stantes missio) was almost more than a victory, as it was extremely rare. Basically, women also had to fight for life and death in the arena. These two gladiatrices wear the equipment by the gladiators of the Provocator type.
The Romans loved rather unequal fights, mostly gladiators with different equipment fought against each other. Emperor Domitian let also women fight against men with dwarfism.
Gladiatrices te salutant!
My short Christmas contribution for you – I wish a Merry Christmas to everyone!
Yes, gladiatrix is actually a modernism, I haven't found out whether there really is an original Latin expression for it. When I translate the female form of gladiator, for example in German "Gladiarorin", into Latin, I always only get 'Gladiator'. As in many languages, feminine 'job titles' were not provided for in Latin. And even in modern English you have problems with it ...I heard someone say recently that "gladiatrix" is a modernism, and they were actually called something else- is there any basis for that?
Nice story about this two women who fought as gladiators in Halicarnassos - but with their upper bodies bared (behind the shield) as immortalized in stone on the relief, they didn't want to show us Amazona and Achilla on television...And whole documentation and anoooooyyyyyyyiiiiiing.....
Your reasoning is not really convincing to me. Laying a battle ax in the grave of a girl or young woman even though she was not a fighter, just to show her social status, is the least convincing - jewelry and other valuable items would be much more obvious.Ok, female gladiators existed during Early empire, but very rarely and most probably sneered on by traditional afficionados of sports.
Amazons is a completely different topic.
Yes, there are (a few) burials of females with weapons inside in several cultures.
But, it has to be stated over and over again, this does not mean that these women ever used these weapons. What is given into a grave is a matter of religious rules, it is NOT a representation of real life. If by some reason a woman had a social status that is expressed by wearing weapons and if the religious rules state that this social status has to be marked in her burial, then you will find weapons in femal burials, just as you find weapons in the burials of little children of physically disabled persons.
Then again, with the 'Scythian' story the chronology does not fit.
The representations above of Amazons are all from Classical period (5th century BC) and later.
For this period we know very well the political and ethnical landscape of all of the Near and Middle East and Eastern Europe there are no amazons, and there is nowhere any place for them. These pictures do NOT represent anything contemporary but a long gone mythological time.
Scythians are mentioned in Near Eastern and Greek sources from the 8th/7th century BC to about 4th/3rd century BC.
The first mentions of 'Amazons' in Greek written mythology are from about 8th century. But these written versions naturally are based on much older oral versions of the storie, so we get back into 9th, 10th or even earlier centuries (that is the Early Iron Age in Greece)
And these older oral versions were telling about a mystic past that is even much older again (this is why some people belief that the Archaic and Classical Greek mythological stories refer to the Late Bonze age, when actually no Greeks existed).
Now in Early Iron or Late Bronze when the real background to the Greek myths is supposed to have happened there is a) no Scythians and b) no female burials with weapons.
So Scythians as explanation for Amazons is like Lego as an explanation for the pyramids.
Then what could be the background for the stories about Amazons (or centaurs)? If these stories root in Early Iron Age, we have to consider that at this time Greece was a complete cultural and political backwater. It consisted of small 'city' states of only local importance and very little international contact. There might have been some local memories about the previous period (Late Bronze Age/Mycenaean period) when some kind of 'Big Men' had accumulated some power and were able to build fortresses and import a few luxury items from civilized lands.
Very many of the older Greek mythological stories are about heroes who come from these lands to Greece and bring culture with them (Pelops, Kadmos) or even gods are imported, like Aphrodite.
So there should have been some faint ideas about those foreign countries. And maybe the knowledge that in some of these Eastern countries women were not completely restricted to their house and home, as in Greece, but enjoyed much more freedom or even power (the Hittite queen Puduhepa had her own seal, did independent international correspondence etc.)
So, if those foreigners wer so mindboggling stupid and indecend not to lock up their women in the house but allow them to appear in public, then it is just a little step to imagine them as warriors too.
And that's most probably it.
Or as Lindybeige put it:
just ancient porn.