I had the wonderful opportunity of visiting Italy in the spring of 2010. One of the stops I made was to the preserved town of Pompeii, which so long ago was covered by the thick ash and mud from the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
With the slopes of Mount Vesuvius rising to the north, the town stood in a quiet, peaceful, almost eerie state. The birds warbled softly in the trees; the only other sounds were those of fellow tourists, emerging from cobblestoned side streets on either side of me, commenting on the history, the architecture, and the paradoxical beauty of the place.
Frozen in time, the town gave a snapshot of ancient Italian life that can not be captured in textbooks, or even pictures. To truly experience Pompeii, you have to explore the streets of the ghost town yourself, walking the city fixed in ancient history.
“My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the North, general of the Felix Legions, and loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius….”
If you are a fan of gladiators, the Colloseum, or great movies, you probably know the above quote from the movie Gladiator by heart. Speaking of gladiators, check out this 2,000 year-old gladiator helmet that survived the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Vesuvius:
This style of helmet, characterized by the high crest on the top, would have been worn by a ‘murmillo‘. He would also sport a loincloth, shinguards, an arm protector for his right arm, and the shield of the Roman legionary. Armed with the ‘gladius’ as well (the short sword of the Roman legionary), he was a formidable opponent.
The murmillo was known to fight another recognizable gladiator: the net fighter. The lightly armed and fast net fighter versus the heavily armed but slow murmillo. And the winner is?
Off to watch Gladiator now!