Female gladiators in the Roman Empire

Authored by: Anna McCullough

Women in Antiquity

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  August  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138808362
eBook ISBN: 9781315621425
Adobe ISBN: 9781317219910


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The hold of female gladiators on the modern popular imagination has yet to see any diminishment. The recent publication of a figurine alleged to be a female gladiator nearly went viral, making it to LiveScience, National Geographic, MSNBC, and Yahoo, among other online sites and forums. And as a scholar who works on this topic, I may say from personal experience that out of the litany of research interests dutifully recited in response to the question, “what do you work on,” the mention of female gladiators is consistently the theme upon which listeners seize and interrogate me further. I will here briefly review the limited evidence available, identify the broad conclusions possible from this evidence, and conclude with analysis of two issues which have generated a number of misconceptions and controversies, namely the Latin terminology and archaeological evidence.

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