"Ave! Old knitter of black wool. Morituri te salutant"

Morituri te salutant ('those about to die salute you') is widely believed to have been the standard Roman gladiatorial salute to the emperor upon entering the arena. In fact, the phrase (in full 'Ave, Imperator/Caesar, morituri te salutant', meaning 'Hail, Emperor/Caesar, those about to die salute you') is quoted only in Suetonius's De Vita Caesarum. It was heard during an event in 52AD on Lake Fucinus by naumachiarii (prisoners of war or convicts fated to die during mock naval encounters) in the presence of the emperor Claudius. Since the phrase is not recorded elsewhere in Roman histories, it is questionable whether it was ever a customary salute.


Ave Caesar Morituri te Salutant (1859)
Public DomainAve Caesar Morituri te Salutant (1859) - Credit: Jean-Léon Gérôme
Naumachia (1894)
Public DomainNaumachia (1894) - Credit: Ulpiano Checa