Munera Gladiatoria Quarters ~ Ludi Conditorum 2761 (Nova Roma)
5:00 PM ~ Live at the Colosseum
Salvete omnes! This is by M. Verus Paenula, bringing you LIVE REPORTING from the Flavian Amphitheatre this afternoon for the Munera Gladiatoria quarter-finals matches of the Conditorum!
Citizens and non-citizens alike are arriving here at the Colosseum for this afternoon’s gladiatorial matches. With a cool breeze and fair weather after this morning’s storms, officials inside are advising that the sand in the arena has dried enough to hold today’s matches.
As we make our way into the Colosseum, we see several of our citizens making their way through the crowds. Many are discussing the recent legal and religio turmoil that has been prevalent in the discussions in the Forum. Several cives are carrying banners in protest and speaking ill of attorneys and some of the Magistrates, and the Vigiles have extinguished several fires in the city over the last few nights. It has been a quite hostile start for the new year, and many wonder if Concordia has abandoned the Eternal City.
5:15 PM ~ Before the Games
As we find our seats in the stand, we see Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana, sponsor of the Retiarius, Aghila “the Leopard.” Aghila was successful in the Venationes of the Ludi Lupercales. Spectator attendance at the Ludi Lupercales Venationes matches was almost as thin as owner participation. So for those who probably missed his debut, Gaia Aurelia gives us a recap of her description of this exceptional gladiator. Gaia Aurelia, what can you tell us about this one?
Gaia Aurelia smiles and advises:
“Aghila was once trade emissary emissary for the Kingdom of Kush, reporting directly to the former prince known as Al-Hassassin. When Rome destroyed Kush and shipped the Queen and her court to Rome as slaves, Aghila escaped their fate because he was on a trade mission to Carthage. There he began training for his revenge in small, isolated towns where no Roman would ever see the secret and deadly techniques he mastered. There too, he changed his name to "Aghila", because the leopard hunts alone and is regarded as the most dangerous animal.
“Aghila does not have the royal aura of command that let his prince, Al-Hassassin, use a constant attack. As a trader in foreign lands, Aghila has often had to extricate himself from sticky and dangerous situations. He is a master observer of people. Every nuance of body language speaks to him. Because he trained in the wilds of Mauretania, he also had to learn to read animal behavior. Aghila uses wile and guile every bit as much as he uses force – and of force he has plenty.
“Aghila was born of a Nubian lady and a Bedouin chieftain. He has the Nubian height and broad shoulders, with the whip-lean Bedouin physique and endurance. When he learned that Al-Hassassin had been killed in the ring, Aghila chose to become a gladiator to avenge the honor of his prince. In his career as a trade emissary, Aghila has come to know most of the peoples within the Roman sphere; he understands their fighting styles. He prizes the fighting spirit of the Cimbri and other northerners. Like them, Aghila never, never gives up. Be very careful of his net! His trident moves so fast it seems invisible!”
A wonderful description of him indeed, and definitely a priceless asset for Ludus Praesinus! We will see how he fairs against the competition. Can you tell us a little bit about your other entry, Sarmatus the Secutor, in today’s matches?
Gaia Aurelia smiles again and says:
“Out of the Sarmatian wilderness he came, originally to care for the magnificent breeding stock of Sarmatian horses that Domus Aurelia Falco acquired four years ago. Sarmatus was just 16 years old when he joined our stables – and then he discovered the "other" (gladiatorial) stables. His moody Sarmatian character is ideal in the ring: nothing and no-one can ever surprise him. He fights with the cunning of the steppe wolf, and often looks as if he is hunting his opponent rather than simply fighting him/her. He is fleet and fast as the horses of his homeland. And now, at 20 years of age, he is nearly as powerful as the mighty bears for which his native land is famous.
“Sarmatus fights as a secutor, the first time Domus Aurelia Falco has fielded this type of gladiator. The reason? We have an exceptional retiarius (Aghila), who found a perfect training partner in the Sarmatian youth. Sarmatus had to work very hard to match Aghila. Even as a novice gladiator, he as started to acquire a crowd of fans. They feel his wolfish, silent manner reflects the Dignitas and heritage of the Roman people. We are confident that Sarmatus will provide an excellent spectacle to honor the founding of our Res Publica.”
We will definitely await with much anticipation for this match. Thank you, Gaia Aurelia, and good luck in today’s events.
We go down a few rows and meet with Lucius Rutilius Minervalis, sponsor of the Hoplomachus, Heracleus. Minervalis, can you tell us a little bit about your entry and what we can expect to see here today?
Minervalis takes a sip of Falernian and states:
“He is a very strong man, who honors Hercule. He is one head taller than the average size of his opponents. Slow to move, it could easily keep opponents at a distance as he is very skillful with his favoured weapon, the spear. He generally uses the tactics of making his opponent tired, then waiting for the favourable moment, he uses his favourite trick. He strongly pierce the opponent by surprise when his opponent exposes himself by attacking too impulsively. He comes from Praeneste, where he is already famous, but it is his first performance in Rome.”
This is definitely going to be an award-winning performance, I do believe, for both you and Ludus Venetus. Thanks Minervalis, and good luck to you and the Blues!
As we move over a few seats, we find another sponsor, Quintus Vitellius Triarus Vopiscus, nephew of the Quaestor Vitellius and Editor of today’s games. Vopiscus, tell us something about what you expect to see from your entry in these matches.
Vopiscus stands and points down onto the sand at his entry, who is warming up:
“My entry is a returning veteran of the arena, and he comes from a renowned family of gladiators. Arthmail Ansgar is a Murmillo and a Celt from Hispania. With the fierceness of a lion, we have instructed our servii at the Ludus Venetus to construct a new set of fighting armor and equipment for Ansgar. A bronze lion's head was constructed and emblazoned on his scutum, as well as on his iron shin guard and arm protection. He wears a closed hull, and his gladius Hispaniensis had been forged from the finest metal, imported from Hispania. His brother, Naois Ansgar, had died in this very place during the Ludi Romani two years ago, and he fought in gladiatorial matches here last season. Arthmail watched in horror as his brother, Naois, had been beheaded in the final fight of his last munera, and has no intention of sharing his brother's fate.”
Well, the Ludus Venetus, seems to be equally represented in the matches today, and Ansgar will probably be a deciding factor in these matches. Let’s now watch as the opening ceremonies are beginning…
5:30 PM ~ Opening Ceremony
As the opening processional enters the arena, several troupes of musicians perform uplifting and triumphant tunes, as they lead the parade onto the sand. Behind the musicians come members of the Guild of Armorers of the Esquiline, who will be inspecting the weapons used in today’s games. Next, comes the magistrate corps: the Curule Aediles, P. Memmius Albucius and Sex. Lucilius Tutor, followed by Quaestors L. Vitellius Triarius and M. Hortensia Maior and the Aedilian cohors. Behind them come the Consules, M. Moravius Piscinus Horatianus and T. Iulius Sabinus.
Behind the Consules, as the crowd erupts into thunderous excitement, come the Gladiators:
First is Aghila the Retarius, followed by Sarmatus the Secutor, both sponsored by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana. Next comes Heracleus the Hoplomachus, sponsored by L. Rutilius Minervalis, then Arthmail Ansgar the Murmillo, sponsored by Q. Vitellius Triarus Vopiscus. Behind them, come their opponents, two from the Ludus Magnus and two from the Ludus Gallicus.
As the musicians make a circle around the arena, then find their appointed seats, the Guild inspectors finish their examination of the weapons and signal their approval to the officials. The Consules, now seated, await the start of the games, while Quaestor Vitellius prepares to start the first match.
It appears that, after seeing Heracleus, one of the competitors from the Ludus Gallicus has indeed passed out on the sand, even before the match has begun. He is attended to, and taken below for evaluation before his match.
Scriba Poplicola is announcing the rules of the matches, and Scribae Crispus and Lentulus are briefing the arena officials on their various jobs and expectations on the fluid movement of the games. Quaestor Hortensia is checking with each Lanista to ensure the participants are properly registered with their respective Ludus. The crowds have begun to settle in and now await the matches.
Scriba Poplicola makes the opening announcements:
“We welcome you to today’s matches and ask that everyone refrain from throwing objects down onto the sand. Refreshments today are provided to Citizens as follows: Muslum is provided by the Cornelian Vintners and cakes are provided by the Lower Aventine Guild of Bakers. The Lower Aventine Guild of Bakers uses only the finest Roman grain. The Games will begin today with the first match between Aghira the Retarius of Ludus Praesinus and Aulus Flavius the Secutor of Ludus Magnus. ”
With that, Quaestor Vitellius stands up, pulls the mappa from inside his toga, slowly raises his right arm, and says, "Animis opibusque parati!" (be ready for anything). The mappa falls, the gates are opened and the gladiators enter the arena.
5:45 PM ~ Quarter-Finals Match I
As the combatants enter the field, the Secutor runs to occupy the center of the arena. Aghira, like a stalking leopard, encircles the Secutor, never allowing his eyes to stray from his opponent. The Secutor attempts to lung toward the Retiarius, narrowly missing his net! Again, the Secutor makes an ill-fated attempt to strike the Retiarius. This time the Secutor’s gladius becomes entangled with the Retiarius’ net, but with a quick thrust backwards, the Secutor cuts the net and frees he weapon. Aghira loses no time in retrieving the net and readying him self for another attack. As the Secutor tries to make another lunge, Aghila turns and falls to the ground! What an opportunity for the Secutor! He makes a strong double-handed swing of the gladius downward, but the Retiarius anticipates this move and counters with his trident, catching the fierce blade in its tines. With this move, he quickly roles to the left, pulling the gladius out of the Secutor’s hands and causing him to lose his balance and fall to the ground! As quick as a leopard, Aghira is back on his feet, casting his net onto the Secutor! Now, entangled in the Retiarius web, the Secutor begs for mercy…Aghila’s trident at his throat! For his valor, the crowd signals to accept his mercy, Quaestor Vitellius signals the same, and Aghira yields!
- 1st Place: Aghira the Retiarius
- 2nd Place: Aulus Flavius the Secutor
6:00 PM ~ Quarter-Finals Match II
As the combatants exit the arena, the musicians play a short tune, and the next gladiators prepare for their match. Quaestor Vitellius again raises the mappa and states, "Aut vincere aut mori!" (Either conquer or die!). The mappa drops, the gates open and Vibius Didius, a Thraex from the Ludus Gallicus, enters the arena. But, wait, where is his opponent? As the officials are looking at each other in a confused manner, suddenly, there comes a quietness in the arena as the Hoplomachus, called Heracleus, slowly walks onto the sand! He is wearing quilted, trouser-like leg wrappings, made from linen, a loincloth, a belt, a pair of long shin-guards or greaves, an arm guard (manica) on the right arm, and a brimmed helmet with a stylised griffin on the crest that is adorned with a plume of feathers on top and a single feather on each side. Equipped with a long spear, rather than the usual gladius, and a very small, round shield made of one sheet of thick bronze, the guy is ENOURMOUS! Minervalis was not joking about this. A good head taller than his opponent, he enters the arena with an air of intimidation that only a legio could provide. Seeing the obvious fear in the Thraex’s eyes, he slowly walks toward his opponent, banging his spear repeatedly against his bronze shield in a rhythmic beat.
The Thraex, wearing the same protective armour as the Hoplomachus with a broad-rimmed helmet that enclosed the entire head, distinguished by a stylized griffin on the protome or front of the crest, a small round or square-shaped shield (parmula), and two thigh-length greaves, drops to his knees. With his Thracian curved sword (sicca) by his side, he offers an immediate prayer to Nemesis, his avenging goddess. Rising quickly, he retreats some to prepare for the expected onslaught of terror.
The Thraex, using his quick skill against his slower adversary, makes several quick attacks toward the Hoplomachus with no success. The Hoplomachus’ spear makes a direct hit almost impossible for the Thraex, but he continues to make advances toward the large, famous beast from Praeneste! Heracleus patiently waits for the favored moment, but the Thraex continues his quick advances in and out with no apparent success. He can’t even seem to get close! Heracleus observed that the Thraex is tiring and waits for the moment. Suddenly, the thraex kicks sand into the Hoplomachus’ eyes, hoping to momentarily gain the advantage. As the Thraex lunges, Heracleus makes a forceful swing of his spear from right to left, hoping to clear the area. The spear strikes the Thraex in the side of his helmet like a hammer. This dazes and momentarily disorients the Thraex. Now comes the favoured moment, as the huge Hoplomachus impales the Thraex onto the spear! The crowd jumps to their feet and the cheers in the Colosseum are deafening!
- 1st Place: Heracleus the Hoplomachus
- 2nd Place: Vibius Didius the Thraex
6:15 PM ~ Quarter-Finals Match III
With the sand cleared, Quaestor Vitellius signals for the musicians to stop playing and announces the next match, a battle between the Secutor, Sarmatus, from the Ludus Praesinus versus the Retiarius, Appius Herennius, a convicted criminal in the recent arson acts in the city. Herennius is sponsored by the Ludus Gallicus.
Quaestor Vitellius slowly raises the mappa with his right arm, states, “Audere est facere!” (To dare is to do!), then with a quick drop, the gladiators enter the arena with great speed. Running onto the sand, the Retiarius wastes no time in assailing his intended victim! The Secutor, standing his ground, deflects the Retiarius’ net, then his trident. The Secutor realizes this will be no easy match, as his opponent is either cursed by the Gods in his head or is completely absent of any fears in the arena. The Secutor braces for another head-on attack by his maniac adversary! The Retiarius repeatedly jabs his trident into the front of the Secutor’s helmet, knocking him off balance and down onto the ground. The Secutor’s helmet, however, covering the entire face with the exception of two small eye-holes, protects his face from the thin prongs of the trident of his opponent. This infuriates Sarmatus, who effectively rebounds into his own attack.
The Secutor, back on his feet, then bashes the Retiarius with his tall rectangular scutum (shield) and attempts to jab his gladius into the Retiarius, but the Retiarius is too quick and runs behind him, jumping on hi back in an attempt to pull him to the ground! The Secutor’s almost round and smooth helmet, prevents the Retiarius’ net from getting a grip on it, and it so does for the Retarius’ hands, who slip off as well. Sarmatus throws the Retarius to the ground, and places the blade tip of his gladius at the Retarius’ throat! The crowd cheers wildly and the Secutor, claiming his victory, releases the Retiarius from his conquered position.
- 1st Place: Sarmatus the Secutor
- 2nd Place: Appius Herennius
6:30 PM ~ Quarter-Finals Match IV
As the officials rake and level the sand for the last quarter-finals match, the musical troupes enter the arena and present a short musical and theatrical performance for the spectators. With preparations complete, the musicians exit the arena floor for their seats and Quaestor Vitellius stands to present the last match. With his nephew’s entry in this match, he passes the administratio of the match to Scriba Crispus, who announces the following:
Scriba Crispus, mappa in hand, stands before the crowd and announces the next and final match is between an unknown Hoplomachus, known as Malleolus, “the Hammer,” of Ludus Magnus, and the Murmillo from Hispania, Arthmail Ansgar, the celtic wonder of Ludus Venetus. Scriba Crispus raises the mappa, drops it, and the match begins…
As the gladiators enter the arena, both calmly evaluate the other. They both proceed with caution, waiting for the other to give in to fear or intimidation. As they circle each other, the Murmillo yells something, then makes an attack on the Hoplomachus. The gladii of the combatants crash together and send a high-pitched ring throughout the Colosseum. The continue to exchange blows and fight their way around the arena! The Murmillo uses his tall, oblong shield in the legionary style, to bash the Hoplomachus repeatedly, knocking his small, round shield from his arm as its leather straps break from the repeated impacts. Backing off, the Hoplomachus plants his feet firmly in the sand and waits for the coming attack. Ansgar then makes his move by running toward the Hoplomachus and slamming his Scutum don on top of the Hoplomachus’ firmly planted foot. Intense pain shoots through the Hoplomachus’ left leg as he realizes his foot is broken. He drops his gladius, falls to the ground and begs for mercy. The crowd yields, Scriba Crispus nods in approval, and the Murmillo points his gladius into the air and claims his victory!
- 1st Place: Arthmail Ansgar the Murmillo
- 2nd Place: Malleolus “the Hammer”
6:45 PM ~ Closing Ceremony
As the officials clear the sand, the winning gladiators from todays matches are saluted by the Aedilician Cohors, and Quaestor Vitellius announces the winners who are to advance to the Semi-Finals matches day after tomorrow:
- Aghira the Retiarius of Ludus Praesinus, sponsored by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana
- Heracleus the Hoplomachus of Ludus Venetus, sponsored by Lucius Rutilius Minervalis
- Sarmatus the Secutor of Ludus Praesinus, sponsored by Gaia Aurelia Falco Silvana
- Arthmail Ansgar the Murmillo of Ludus Venetus, sponsored by Quintus Vitellius Triarus Vopiscus
The crowds are now leaving the Flavian Amphitheatre and spilling out onto the streets. Many are remaining in the plaza outside for the evening’s festivities, which include a special musical presentation by local groups near the Meta Sudans.
This is M. Verus Paenula, bringing you LIVE REPORTING from the Flavian Amphitheatre and we will see you here again day after tomorrow on the prid. Kal. Mar. for the Munera Gladiatoria Semi-Finals matches of the Conditorum!
Di vos incolumes custodiant!