THE freeman gladiator, Marcus Attilius, actually lived but we have very little information on his life, however, his exploits are found on the Nocerian (Nucerian) gate at the Southern end of Pompeii. The graffiti is there to this day inscribed into the gate surface by a fan somewhere in the sixth or seventh decade AD.
We believe that Marcus Attilius chose to become a free man Gladiator; The decision to enter a Ludis (Gladiator school) was his alone. He was not a slave or a prisoner and he chose his new life of his own free will.
Why some chose the option to fight as freemen and to risk their lives on the arenas of the empire is a choice that has raised questions over the years and the onlyanswer anyone can offer is that freemen Gladiatorschose the life to gain the riches and fame that successful gladiators gained from the their contests against each other.
It is even more extraordinary to believe that Marcus Attilius, as a Tirone, (first year Gladiator) successfully fought and conquered Hilarius, the empire champion gladiator who fought as a Murmillone, Hilarius held the title of first gladiator at the time and was highly awarded as the twelve-wreath champion of Rome and previously sponsored champion of the fallen emperor, Nero. Marcus then fought another champion of Rome by the name of Racius Felix and defeated him as well, within the same year. A feat never accomplished before or since.
An amazing achievement for a first year Gladiator and hence the reason a fan, inscribed his graffiti onto the wall of the Nocerian Gate at Pompeii after his victories somewhere around the year 75AD.