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The Helmet of the Secutor

Smooth and without decoration, the better not to catch the prongs of the trident or the entangling net, the helmet worn by the secutor completed enveloped the head. The fin-like crest was plain, as well, and the eye-holes small to minimize their vulnerability, which gave the helmet a vaguely fish-like look that would have been appreciated by the retiarius. The helmet was thicker than those of other gladiators and must have been claustrophobic to wear. Hearing would have been difficult, and the field of view limited. Breathing, too, soon would have become labored, as the secutor was forced to pursue his less encumbered adversary.

In this small bronze figurine, which is in the Musée de l'Arles Antiques, the front of the helmet can be tilted up to show the face of the secutor. The helmet actually lifted from the eye-piece, as can be seen in this example, which was found in Herculaneum.

     


A bibliographic note: Marcus Junkelman, who wrote the chapter on gladiators for the catalog that accompanied the exhibition Gladiators and Caesars, also has written another extensively illustrated and authoritative study of gladiators, Playing with Death: Experimenting with the Gladiators of Rome, both of which are cited here. He is the founder of Familia Gladiatoria Pulli Cornicinis (Rooster with cornu, a curved Roman horn), a re-enactment group funded by the Rheinisches Landesmuseum (Rhineland Museum) in Trier.


References: "Familia Gladiatoria: The Heroes of the Amphitheater" by Marcus Junkelman, in Gladiators and Caesars (2000) edited by Eckart Köhne and Cornelia Ewigleben; Das Spiel mit dem Tod: So Kämpften Roms Gladiatoren (2000) by Marcus Junkelmann. (The original picture of the helmet in Junkelmann is in black and white.)

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