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The gladiators who fought at the Colosseum in ancient Rome were legendary fighters. These men were the best athletes of their time, and they trained hard to take part in the gory fights that attracted crowds of up to 80,000 spectators. These fights, in which animals also took part, cut short many of their lives, but their bravery was greatly respected. A glass cup at The Metropolitan Museum of Art serves as a reminder of the great respect accorded to certain gladiators.

It's referred to as the Montagnole Cup and dates to between 50 and 80 CE. Two friezes encircle the sides of the translucent green-yellow cup. The lower frieze features four pairs of gladiators in various poses. Two gladiators advance with shields, and one gladiator lying on the ground. The names Gamus, Merops, and Calamus are written above them. The cup depicts a total of eight gladiators, some of whom are standing tall and others are kneeling in defeat.

Scholars claim that the text and images in these glass cups were inserted into the glass using a novel method known as mould blowing. 

It is thought that this cup served as a memento from gladiatorial contests held in Rome during the Julio-Claudian era, as some of the inscriptions correspond to the names of well-known gladiators. According to Dr. Kimberley Cassibry, an associate professor of art at Wellesley College, there are hundreds of examples of these cups throughout the Roman Empire, indicating their widespread popularity. These cups also included images of charioteers, illustrating the populace's penchant for spectacle and entertainment. They turned into a means for individuals all throughout the empire to recollect and take part in these games repeatedly.

“In the end, the novel experiences offered by the cups made the vessels themselves desirable,” writes Dr. Cassibry. “They became a spectacle in their own right, something worth seeing, both in Rome and in the provinces.” 

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