Pompeii (Italie) : Tomb depicting famous gladiator brawl discovered
Longest funerary epigraph ever gives details on mystery
A brawl between gladiators that ended in tragedy, narrated by Tacitus, and a mysterious character that probably died in it is a 2,000-year-old mystery of Pompeii brought to light by a marble monumental tomb with the longest funerary epigraph ever found. The excavation was connected with the rehabilitation of state-owned property as part of the Great Pompeii Project in the San Paolino area near Porta Stabia, one of the accesses to the ancient city.
The tombstone was made shortly before the eruption that destroyed Pompeii in 69 AD and was presented on Thursday in the archaeological area. The inscription is over 4 meters long, in seven narrative registers, and though it does not include the deceased's name, it describes in detail the major events in the life of the man buried within it: from the acquisition of the 'toga virilis' to his wedding, and describes the munificent activities that accompanied such events such as public banquets, largess, the holding of gladiatorial games and battling large beasts.
The new Porta Stabia monumental tomb includes an elegy to the deceased and the most important parts of his biography, including his designation as duoviro, according to studies by the archaeologist and Pompeii general director Massimo Osanna. ''Thanks to the citation of events in the deceased's life,'' Osanna said in a statement, ''we have learned very important facts about the history of Pompeii, including in reference to the famous episode narrated by Tacitus that happened in Pompeii in 59 BC, when a brawl broke out in the amphitheater during a gladiator show that led to an armed clash. The event drew the attention of Emperor Nero, who ordered the Senate in Rome to investigate the incident. Following an inquiry by the consuls, reports Tacitus, Pompeii residents were banned from holding gladiator shows for 10 years, illegal associations were dissolved and the organizer of the games - former senator from Rome Livineio Regulo - and all the others who were found guilty of incitement were exiled. The inscription complements the information given by Tacitus and makes reference for the first time to the exile imposed on some magistrates, the duoviri of the city.