Sunday, December 2, 2012


Gian Luca Gregori, Ludi e munera. 25 anni di ricerche sugli spettacoli d'età romana. Scritti vari rielaborati e aggiornati con la collaborazione di Giorgio Crimi e Maurizio Giovagnoli. Rome: Edizioni Universitarie di Lettere Economia Diritto, 2011. Pp. 281. ISBN 9788879164795. €31.00.

Reviewed by Guy Chamberland, Thorneloe College of Laurentian University (

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[The table of contents is inserted at the end of the review.]

This book contains 20 papers and two book reviews (chapters 5 and 17) that had been previously published in a variety of journals and books but were reworked (sometimes quite extensively) and updated to give uniformity to this collection and reduce repetitions as much as possible (10). In addition, instead of individual bibliographies at the end of each chapter, a general and updated bibliography is provided (205-248, preceded by a complete list of Gregori's articles on the spectacles, 201-203), though a few important studies, such as Coleman's on Martial's Liber spectaculorum, are missing. The aim of uniformity is achieved successfully; the author and his collaborators in this venture, G. Crimi and M. Giovagnoli, were obviously not interested in expediency over quality, and for this they deserve to be praised. In spite of the title, however, the subject matter is heavily biased in favour of the gladiatorial munera; only three papers are about ludi scaenici (chapters 20-22), and a single one is about ludi circenses (chapter 19), though it is mostly concerned with the evidence for displays of gladiators in the circus.

The first four chapters were originally published between 1999 and 2001 and primarily addressed to non-specialists. Chapter 1, for instance, discusses three social aspects of gladiatorial displays: their funerary origin, those who organized them, and the spectators, but all this in only 13 pages (13-25). Specialists will probably gain little from these chapters except from the rich bibliography. Chapter 18, a conflation of two book chapters published in 1999 and 2008, is likewise aimed at a wider readership (157-161), though Gregori's discussion of the early medieval restoration of the amphitheatre of Pavia, by Athalaricus in 528/9, complements his presentation in Vol. II of Epigrafia anfiteatrale dell'Occidente Romano (hereafter EAOR), given to the northern Italian provinces, at no. 67.

Chapters 6-16, originally published between 1984 and 1997, are mostly concerned with the northern Italian archaeological and epigraphic evidence. Chapters 7 and 8, for instance, discuss the evidence for amphitheatres in Umbria (57-82). Gregori lists eight cities where amphitheatres are attested archaeologically, and three more where such buildings have been possibly or probably identified (57-58). Interestingly, barely ten Umbrian inscriptions record gladiatorial spectacles and hunts for the 300 years from the Augustan principate to the Constantinian monarchy (cf. 62-65), but the author does not try to explain that surprisingly low number.1 Some of the inscriptions discussed by the author have been known for a long time. A third- or early fourth-century funerary monument from Trieste is, Gregori says, "rather exceptional" (137) for having been erected in the Latin part of the Empire by a munerarius for his gladiators (CIL V 563 = EAOR II 18). To the best of my knowledge, there is actually no parallel to this situation in the entire corpus of Latin inscriptions. Gregori also produced the editio princeps of a number of inscriptions. The gladiator Rutumanna's epitaph (147-151 + fig. 22), for instance, came to his attention in 1991, two years after he had published EAOR II. The name Rutumanna, an epigraphic unicum, is otherwise attested only in Solinus (45.15), in the story of a charioteer of that name borrowed from Pliny's Historia naturalis (8.65). In Pliny, however, the charioteer's name is Ratumenna, after whom, Pliny adds, Rome's Porta Ratumenna was named.2 The new gladiator's epitaph makes it difficult to dismiss Solinus' variant as a corruption. Also of note are two very fragmentary reliefs found just outside Rome in 1977, but missing from EAOR I (53-55).3 They, too, contribute rare names, Auricomus ("Golden- Hair") and Scolasticus ("Scholar"!), to our catalogue of gladiators' noms de guerre.

The last three chapters are about the personnel of the ludi scaenici. Chapters 20 and 22 include four inscriptions published by Gregori in the last decade. The texts are brief but contribute new names to our catalogues of archimimi, mimae, and scaenicae (195-199). In addition, a new office is attested, that of ad aurum scaenicum, whose holder Gregori interprets (probably rightly) as overseer of the gold furnishings used in the lavish Roman stage sets (176). Chapter 21 is a useful mini-lexicon of several titles of the performers of the Roman stage attested in the inscriptions of Rome (179-193). The terms reviewed are: acroama, actor, atellanus, comoedus, emboliaria, histrio, mimus, pantomimus, and scaenicus.

The bibliography is followed by detailed indices of literary and epigraphic sources (251-254, 255-268) as well as 26 well reproduced black and white figures (271-281).

Gian Luca Gregori's important contribution to the field of Roman spectacles is undeniable. He has been the general editor of EAOR since 1995 and is currently working on the (re)publication, for a future supplement to CIL VI, of the Latin inscriptions from Rome which concern spectacles. Specialists of amphitheatralia will appreciate that the book under review conveniently brings together a number of his studies, some in journals of rather limited diffusion outside Italy and western Europe. I also highly recommend this book to students intending to pursue their graduate studies in this field, and in particular those (especially in America) who do not yet have a good command of the modern literature, and in particular of the important Italian contribution.

Table of Contents

1. Aspetti sociali della gladiatura romana
2. La legislazione relativa agli spettacoli
3. L'amministrazione degli spettacoli e delle caserme gladiatorie
4. I gladiatori: onomastica, stato giuridico, condizioni di vita
5. Gladiatori e tattiche di combattimento. A proposito di un libro recente
6. Nuovi rilievi gladiatorii iscritti da Roma
7. Anfiteatri e spettacoli gladiatorii nell'Umbria romana
8. Dediche di anfiteatri umbri
9. L'anfiteatro di Arezzo e gli spettacoli gladiatorii in Etruria
10. Un rilievo gladiatorio iscritto da Saturnia
11. Gladiatori e spettacoli anfiteatrali nell'epigrafia cisalpina
12. Antichità anfiteatrali nell'Emilia romana
13. I documenti epigrafici pertinenti agli anfiteatri di Verona, Aquileia e Pola
14. Lo spettacolo del munerario Constantius ed il teatro romano di Trieste nel Tardo Impero
15. Gladiatori a Padova
16. Tra epigrafia e filologia: un gladiatore di nome Rutumanna
17. Gli anfiteatri della Dacia romana
18. La fine della gladiatura e i restauri di Atalarico nell'anfiteatro di Pavia
19. Gladiatori nei circhi?
20. Schiavi e liberti imperiali per allestimenti teatrali
21. I protagonisti della scena teatrale nella documentazione epigrafica di Roma
22. Archimimi, mimi e scaenici: tre nuove iscrizioni romane di attori
Nota bibliografica. Elenco completo delle pubblicazioni [di G.L. Gregori] con i titoli originari


1.   On this problem see E. Melchor Gil, "La organización de 'ludi libres' en Hispania romana," in Hispania antiqua 20 (1996), 215-235; G. Chamberland, "La mémoire des spectacles: l'autoreprésentation des donateurs," in J. Nelis-Clément and K.M. Coleman, eds., L'organisation des spectacles dans le monde romain (Entretiens de la Fondation Hardt, vol. 58, Vandoeuvres-Genève 2012), 261-303, especially 264-272.
2.   The story is also mentioned at page 99 where, however, Gregori attributes to Solinus some details which are actually found only in Pliny, such as the Veientine origin of the charioteer. Solinus' summary is quite incompetent, as he produces a truncated and rather meaningless story by merging (unintentionally?) two contiguous stories in Pliny.
3.   These are not illustrated, but follow these two links to the Epigraphik-Datenbank Clauss - Slaby: AE 1995 225 and AE 1995 226.

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