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Gladiator Blames Ref For Loss On Gravestone

June 22, 2011

Scientists have decoded an epitaph on a tombstone to reveal that a gladiator’s gravestone blames poor refereeing for losing a battle, and his life, reports the Daily Mail.

The gravestone of Diodorus, who was buried 1,800 years ago in Turkey, blames a referee’s bad decision for his death during a coliseum battle.

His tomb was unearthed about 100 years ago, but the meaning of the inscription on his gravestone has remained a mystery until now.

Scientists Michael Carter of Brock University in Canada studied hundreds of inscriptions on gladiator gravestones.

He decoded Diodorus’ gravestone and found it actually tells the story of his death.

The epitaph, which was written from the gladiator’s own perspective, 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.

Carter said when the gladiator’s friends and family composed the inscription for his gravestone, they were in no doubt as to who was to blame for Diodorus’ death.

The epitaph also includes an engraving Carter says is the circumstances leading up to his death.

Diodorus’ gravestone shows an image of Diodorus standing over his fallen opponent, called Demetrius, holding two swords.

Carter said this means Diodorus had managed to get hold of Demetrius’ sword while he was on the ground.

However, 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,” Carter said in a statement. “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 after this a fatal blow was struck and Diodorus was killed.

Carter’s study was published in the Journal for Papyrology and Ancient Epigraphics.




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