From National Geographic: Ancient Gladiator Mosaic Found in Roman Villa.
A newly discovered mosaic might depict a "superstar" gladiator—a fighter who won the hearts of the people much like Maximus, the general-turned-fighter played by Russell Crowe in the 2000 film Gladiator.
Archaeologists discovered the image of the ancient brawler just outside Rome at the residence of Emperor Commodus. The movie version of Commodus, played by actor Joaquin Phoenix, was Maximus’ enemy.
Researchers say the pictured fighter was probably a star gladiator fancied by the real Commodus, who was an enthusiast of blood sports.
Riccardo Frontoni, an archaeologist working with Rome’s Department of Cultural Heritage, came across the mosaic while digging in a field near the remains of the Villa dei Quintili, Commodus’ countryside residence. The dwelling is found along the Via Appia Antica, an ancient way that connected Rome to southern Italy. [continue]