Return to Gladiators


"Here I lie victorious, Diodorus the wretched. After breaking my opponent Demetrius, I did not kill him immediately. But murderous Fate and the cunning treachery of the summa rudis killed me, and leaving the light I have gone to Hades. I lie in the land of the original inhabitants. A good friend buried me here because of his piety."

This is the epitaph of the gladiator Diodorus, who was born and fought in Amisus, a former Greek colony founded on the southern shore of the Black Sea. He complains from the grave that his death was the fault of the principal referee, the summa rudis. Diodorus stands victorious over his opponent Demetrius, who has raised his arm in submission, awaiting the decision of the referee. He may be a dimachaerus or, since his armor suggests that he used a shield, more likely is holding the sword of his opponent. Carter suggests that, rather than appealing to the sponsor of the contest and declaring Diodorus the victor, the referee allowed the fight to continue. Perhaps he judged that Demetrius had fallen accidentally. But the result was that Diodorus himself was killed.

The tombstone, which was discovered in Turkey, is now in the Musée du Cinquantenaire (Brussels).

Reference: "Blown Call? Diodorus and the Treacherous Summa Rudis" (2011) by Michael J. Carter, Zeitschrift  für Papyrologie und Epigraphik (forthcoming).

 Return to Top of Page