Gladiator Mosaic

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Detail of the Gladiator Mosaic.

The 'Gladiator Mosaic is a famous set of 5 large mosaics of gladiators and venators measuring about 28 meters, dated to the first half of the 4th century[1] and installed in the Salone of the Galleria Borghese.[2] It was discovered in 1834 on the Borghese estate at Torrenova, on the Via Casilina outside Rome.[3] It is believed to have decorated a cryptoporticus of a large domus.[4] These antiquities reinvigorated the Borghese Collection after it had shrunk following the sale of much of the collection to Napoleon I.[5]

The mosaic depicts a single narrative of gladiator fights and Venationes.[4] The name of each gladiator depicted is given in inscription next to the figure, some with the Greek letter Θ, an abbreviation for θάνατος "dead", for those who died in combat and others with vic[it], the Latin word for he wins, for the winners.[6] The inscription is listed as CIL VI 10206.

The mosaic is notable for its vivid depictions of the gladiators. The fight scene between Alumnus and the Secutor Mazicianus is notable for its decorative nature, Alumnus is showed wearing a multicolor sleeve and a subligaculum shaded with gray streaks. [2] Another highly decorated fight scene can be seen between the retiarius Licentious killing the gladiator Purpureus, where Licentious has long blonde hair and wears a belt decorated with yellow and red triangles.


Licentiosus/ [------]// Purpureus/ Entinus/ Baccibus// Astacius// Astacius/ Astivus ∅ // Iaculator// [------]/ Rodan[---] ∅ // Melitio// Talamonius/ Aureus ∅ // Cupido ∅ / Bellerefons// [------]/ Pampineus// PI[---]// Arius// Eliacer// Melea[ger(?)]/ [------]// [---]us vic(it)// Mazicinus/ Alumnus vic(it)// Ideus r(e)t(iarius)// Callimorfus/ Mazicinus// [---]us vic(it)/ Callimorfus// Serpeneus// Sabatius
Astacius, Astivus, Rodan, Belleronfons, Cupido, Aurius, Alumnus, Serpeniius, Meliio, Mazicinus [7]

A Panel of the Borghese Villa Gladiator Mosaic


  1. ^ Rochetti, Luigi (1961). "Il mosaico con scene d'arena al Museo Borghese". Rivista dell’Istituto Nazionale d’Archeologia e Storia dell’arte: 111.
  2. ^ a b Coliva, Anna; Fiore, Kristina; Moreno, Paolo (2004). The Borghese Gallery. Milan: Touring Club Italy. p. 60. ISBN 8836519466.
  3. ^ Canina, L. (1834). "Scavi all'Agro Romano". Bullettino dell’Instituto di Corrispondenza archeologica: 134–136.
  4. ^ a b Ciccarello, Giulia. "MOSAICO PAVIMENTALE CON GLADIATORI E CACCIATORI". Collezione Galleria Borghese. Galleria Borghese. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  5. ^ Coliva, Anna; Fiore, Kristina; Moreno, Paolo (2004). The Borghese Gallery. Milan: Touring Club Italy. p. 13. ISBN 8836519466.
  6. ^ Sparreboom, A (2016). "Venationes Africanae: Hunting spectacles in Roman North Africa: cultural significance and social function". UvA-DARE (Digital Academic Repository): 162.
  7. ^ "The Mosaic of the Gladiator: fighting to the death | Italian Ways". Retrieved 2018-04-05.