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The helmet of the gladiator was distinctive of the type that fought. The high angular crest, broad brim, and grated visor identify this helmet as belonging to a murmillo. It is one of fifteen found at Pompeii, most elaborately embossed and decorated (that of the secutor was deliberately plain). All but one are of sheet bronze approximately one-and-a-half millimeters thick, thicker by half than the military helmet worn by the legionnaire and, weighing about nine pounds, twice as heavy. No wonder that Juvenal makes such fun of the female gladiator "wilting under the weight of the helmet" (VI.262).

These evocative lines compare the helmet's weight to the sagging head of the red poppy, so common in the Mediterranean. They are from Fagles' translation of the Iliad (VIII.349-353).

"As a garden poppy, burst into red bloom, bends,
drooping its head to one side, weighed down
by its full seeds and a sudden spring shower,
so Gorgythion's head fell limp over one shoulder,
weighed down by his helmet."

Reference: Juvenal: The Satires (1991) translated by Niall Rudd.