Drawing of spectators

((:figurae hominum))

Description of Drawing (English): figures of people
Findspot: Smyrna, Basilica (Agora.1)
Drawing Category: Human figures
Writing Style: charcoal
  • Graffito Height: 85
  • Graffito Length: 32
Bibliography: Bagnall, R. S. et al., Graffiti from the Basilica in the Agora of Smyrna (2016): 286-287.
Commentary: Very schematic dipinto located on the western face of Pier A40, looking into Bay 28. It is composed of a group of people divided into four tiers. Some of them are shown only as heads, while others appear as stick figures. All are in profile, turned toward the left. They are most probably meant to be understood as the public attending the gladiatorial games taking place on the back wall of Bay 28 (see dipinti D28.2 to D28.7). At the top are six heads in profile divided in two tiers. The upper tier has the most detailed portraits, with round heads, long noses and, in one instance, a round eye. In the second and lower tier are three smaller and round heads with no clear detailing apart from small round eyes. The third tier from the top comprises a complete figure with linear limbs, an elongated neck, and an irregular head turned to the left, with no recognizable anatomical features. A diagonal line exiting from the stylized mouth suggests that the figure is probably speaking. The torso is depicted in the shape of an octagon, with some internal lines meant to identify clothing. The arms are raised and bent at the elbows. The hands are rendered with a fishbone pattern. The linear legs terminate in feet drawn with a similarly stylized motif. The indication of speech and the gesture suggest that this figure is cheering on the gladiatorial combatants visible on the back wall of the bay. The fourth and last tier has one smaller figure, that of a gladiator, seen from the back, in three-quarter, in the act of walking away toward the right. The figure is not very detailed, but from the shape of the helmet it is possible to identify it as a provocator who is leaving the arena, possibly at the end of his combat. A large gap to his right prevents us from understanding if he was part of a row of gladiators shown while they are leaving the games or if he was the only such figure.
Suggested Citation: AGP-SMYD00288, The Ancient Graffiti Project, <http://ancientgraffiti.org/Graffiti/graffito/AGP-SMYD00288> [accessed: 21 Apr 2024]

Editor: Roger S. Bagnall

Principal Contributor: Roger S. Bagnall

Last Revision: 2016-10-03