Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824-1904)
“Pollice Verso” (1872)
Oil on canvas
Located in the Phoenix Art Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Pollice verso (or verso pollice) is a Latin phrase, meaning “with a turned thumb”, that is used in the context of gladiatorial combat. It refers to the hand gesture or thumbs signal used by Ancient Roman crowds to pass judgment on a defeated gladiator. The painting inspired the 2000 film Gladiator, in the scene where Commodus (Roman Emperor from 180-192) holds out a raised thumb to spare Maximus (fictional Roman general portrayed by Russell Crowe in the film).