A Roman gladiator’s tombstone, decoded, reads “I wuz robbed.” And unfortunately for him, there was no “next year.”
Carter interprets the picture of the gladiator holding two swords to be a moment in his final fight, when Demetrius had been knocked down and Diodorus had grabbed a hold of his sword.
“Demetrius signals surrender, Diodorus doesn’t kill him; he backs off expecting that he’s going to win the fight,” Carter said.
The battle appears to be over. However the summa rudis (referee) — perhaps interpreting Demetrius’ fall as accidental, or perhaps with some ulterior motive — thought otherwise, Carter said.
“What the summa rudis has obviously done is stepped in, stopped the fight, allowed Demetrius to get back up again, take back his shield, take back his sword, and then resume the fight.”
This time Diodorus was in trouble, and either he died in the arena or Demetrius inflicted a wound that led to his death shortly thereafter. …
After Diodorus was dead, the people who created his tombstone (probably family or friends) were so upset, Carter suggests, that they decided to include some final words on the epitaph:
“Fate and the cunning treachery of the summa rudis killed me.”
The gladiatorial games needed an instant replay booth. As for that summa rudis, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen his descendants working international soccer matches.