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Gladiator Day at Penn Museum: April 23

April 12, 2011, Volume 57, No. 29


Gladiator bouts customarily paired fighters with opposing strengths (in armor, weaponry, and fighting styles). A Thracian-class fighter (left) battles a classic Murmillo-class fighter (right).

Penn Museum invites visitors to an afternoon exploring the history of the ancient Roman Empire’s spectacular fighter—the gladiator. “Gladiator Day” features gladiatorial bouts and demonstrations, a gladiator lecture, gladiator-inspired arts and crafts, balloon art creations, a food demonstration, and Italian-inspired cuisine, on Saturday, April 23, from 1 to 4 p.m., throughout the galleries of the Museum. A PECO World Culture Day, the Celebration is free with Museum admission donation.

Gladiatorial “combat” in the Museum’s outdoor Warden Garden “arena” takes place every hour, starting at 1 p.m. when re-enactors from Ludus Magnus Gladiatores (The Great School of the Gladiator) transport visitors back to ancient Roman times during the height of this violent spectator sport. Legion “soldiers” from Philadelphia, New Jersey, and New York, dressed in helmets and armor, with tridents, shields, and swords, perform an authentically rigorous, sword-swinging battle. Ludus Magnus Gladiators also demonstrate fighting techniques such as sword thrusting and explain the uses of assorted weaponry.

The Virtues of Violence: Gladiators, Beasts, and Public Executions in Ancient Rome is the subject of a 2:30 p.m. talk by Dr. Kathleen Coleman, Harvard Latin professor and historical consultant on Ridley Scott’s movie Gladiator (2000).

Throughout the afternoon, visitors can design their own gladiator helmets at family crafts tables or enjoy themed balloon creations by Family Fun balloon artists. There is a Roman-inspired food demonstration by Wolfgang Puck Catering and Roman-themed items for sale at the Museum’s Main Shop and Pyramid shop for children. The Pepper Mill Café joins in with an Italian lunch menu, as well as traditional fare.

Attendees may also tour Penn Museum’s Worlds Intertwined: Etruscans, Greeks and Romans. This suite of galleries features more than 1,000 ancient objects and tells the story of the ancient Greeks and Etruscans, and their empire-building successors, the Romans.

Almanac - April 12, 2011, Volume 57, No. 29