Museo dei Gladiatori
Adjacent to the amphitheatre, the Museo dei Gladiatori uses innovative exhibition solutions to present to the public the surviving elements of the decoration of the Anfiteatro Campano, which
for decades were conserved in the building’s underground areas and beneath its arcades.
In the first room are three of the keystones that decorated the exterior of the monument: a male head with a Phrygian cap identified as Mithra or Attis, a female head with a diadem (perhaps Juno), a head of Minerva with an Attic helmet and the cast of the bust of Volturnus, the original of which is kept at the Museo Campano. Below, there are several honorary inscriptions dedicated to the Emperors Hadrian and Antoninus Pius, originating from the excavations of the
amphitheatre. At the centre of the room is a threedimensional model representing the current state of the building and its original aspect.
A glass showcase contains the heads of Hercules, Athena with a Corinthian helmet, Apollo and a female divinity (perhaps Diana); these belonged to statues that adorned the arcades round the upper tiers. Using an innovative installation designed to represent the steps of the cavea, it has been possible to reconstruct the decoration of one of the vomitoria (entrances to the cavea) in its entirety; at the back is a relief showing a procession of magistrates and lectors, depicted in
the act of entering the amphitheatre to take their seats. Either side, images of animals seem to run towards the arena: gazelles, bears, elephants, and lions. Among the various subjects represented, the most outstanding are the scenes of sacrifice, a depiction of the amphitheatre being built, and the mythological scenes; special mention should be made, on the right-hand wall, of the labours of Hercules (cleaning of the Augean stables, Hercules and Antaeus) and two fragments with the Dioscuri. The left-hand wall shows scenes of Centauromachy and the depiction of Actaeon torn to pieces by his hounds. The reliefs, the choice of subjects, and the execution reveal a marked taste for the classical style, which was typical of the Hadrian age, the time to which the sculptures have been dated.
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