Researcher Alfonso Manas, from the University of Granada, believes that a bronze statue in the permanent collection of the Museum für Kunst Und Gewerbein of Hamburg in Germany is a extremely rare representation of a female gladiator, sword held high in victory as he looks down as if there would be an invisible defeated adversary. The statue represents a woman who only wears a loincloth and a bandage on her left knee. In his left hand he raises a sica, a curved short sword used by the thracian gladiators.
The Thracians, however, also wore a small shield and wore armor (a helmet, shin guards, an arm and shoulder piece called manica, or sleeve) that this figure does not wear. The lack of armor suggests that it was an athlete more than a gladiator. The curved utensil could be a strigil, a cleaning tool used to scrape oil and dirt off the body.
Athletes were often depicted doing the act of strigil themselves, but the raised arm does not fit with tradition. The strigil it would be connected to the body or, at least, close to it during the cleaning process. Hold a strigil high doesn't make sense. It has much more to do with a gladiator victory posethat of the hygiene of the athletes.
- Gladiator statue
Further, female athletes in the Roman world weren't completely topless, but they wore a kind of bikini or "a tunic that left a chest in the air”Manas points out. "In any case, female athletes never performed with bare breasts”, At least not both. Gladiators, on the other hand, used to be slaves or people of low social status, showing him topless could be considered more acceptable. The bandage that the woman wears on her left knee is also a common characteristic of gladiators.
Taken together, this evidence “seems to indicate that the statue of the MKG (the museum) represents a gladiator, thus becoming the second visual evidence we have of female gladiators”Manas writes in a recent issue of the International Journal of the History of Sport.
The other piece of visual evidence is a marble relief discovered in the ancient Greek city of Halicarnassus (present-day Bodrum, Turkey) and is now in the British museum. The relief shows two gladiators called Amazona and Anchilia who would have fought valiantly resulting in a tie (Missio stantes, what does it mean "fired while still standing”), a rare event that requires exceptional combat on both sides. Like the bronze one, they are topless and wearing loincloths. Unlike the bronze, they wear the traditional gladiator armor including shin guards, a manicaand a shield.
- Relief of the gladiators
It is possible that the statue wore a shield on its right arm but it's broken right at the wrist. The lack of helmet would be explained due to his victory posture, since the gladiators they took it off as a gesture of victory. Could have been stripped of the arts to represent a nude figure more erotic for decorative purposes. The relief of Amazona and Anchilia adopted a more entrepreneurial approachas it was probably made for him theludus, or gladiator training school.
If there was any sexual involvement in the naked gladiator, it would have been due to their low social status. “In the Roman mind, there were certain associations with the sexual availability of slaves”Says Anna McCullough, a professor at Ohio State University. "Slaves were to be sexually available to anyone at any time, especially their masters”. Also, "portraying a female gladiator, or a slave, naked, it wasn't really a big deal", He says. "It was an indication of his extremely low social status.”.
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