- Museum number
Marble relief commemorating either the release from service or the discharge after a draw of two female gladiators, Amazon and Achillia. They are armed, and advancing to attack, with swords and shields. The figure on the right is missing the head. They stand on a platform, and below on each side is the head of a spectator. Inscribed above and on the platform. They are shown with the same equipment as male gladiators, but without helmets.
- Production date
Height: 65.60 centimetres
Width: 77.50 centimetres
Depth: 16 centimetres
- Curator's comments
According to several contemporary eye-witnesses, women also performed in the Roman arena. According to the biographer Suetonius, the emperor Domitian (reigned AD 81-96) made women fight by torchlight at night.
Bibliography: Corpus Inscriptionum Graecarum. Berlin: 1828-1877, 6855 f; Archaeologische Zeitung. Berlin: 1848, p. 202.
An alternative interpretation of the relief is given by Kathleen Coleman, who postulates that the relief commemorated not a release from service as gladiator for both women, but a 'missio', meaning that they were discharged, probably after a draw, and sent to the barracks to continue training.
Coleman also points out the peculiarity of the women's names, Achilia and Amazon, as a clear reference to the myth of Achilles and Penthesileia, queen of the Amazons. It could be that this pair of female gladiators often fought each other, as reenactment of mythological scenes.
See K. Coleman (2000) "Missio at Halicarnassus", Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 100: 487–500.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2000, Hamburg, Gladiators and Caesars
2018 23 Feb – 22 Apr, Nashville, Frist Art Museum, 'Rome; City &Empire'
2018-2019 20 Sep-04 Feb, Canberra, National Museum of Australia, 'Rome; City &Empire'
2021 13 Feb-15 Aug, Belgium, Tongeren, Gallo-Romeins Museum, 'Rome; City & Empire'
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number