History, Facts and Information about the Eques
Gladiators were divided into different classes according to their weapons and fighting styles. There were strict rules and protocol surrounding the fights of gladiators. A gladiatorial fight would usually involve two gladiators but similar types of gladiators such as the Eques, would not normally fight each other. The first Roman Gladiators were prisoners of war and used the weapons and equipment characteristic of their people. The early enemies of Rome included the Samnites, the Thracians and the Gauls (Gallus) and gladiators were named according to their ethnic roots. This changed over the years and the names of the different types of gladiators reflected their combat techniques such as Secutores (chasers), Bestiarii (beast fighters) and Retiarius (net fighters). Gladiators were always clothed and armed to resemble barbarians with unusual and exotic weapons and their fights depicted famous victories over barbarians and the power of the Roman Empire. The Eques gladiator is also referred to in the plural as Equites, but this does get confused with one of the two upper social classes of Rome who are also called Equites.
Definition of a Eques - Weapons, Armor, Fighting Styles and Opponents
What type of gladiator was a Eques? What weapons and armor did they use? What was their style of combat? And what type of gladiator was matched as their opponent?
Definition: The Eques was a horseman, or an equestrian (Latin eques, plural equites)
Opponent: This type of gladiator only fought with other equites
Weapons: This type of gladiator fought with a lance (the lancea) or a verutum which was a short, light throwing spear and a sword (the gladius) or a long straight sword with single or double edge called a spatha
Body Armor and helmet worn by this type of gladiator: The Galea, a visored helmet, without a decorative crest, in place of which there were at least two feathers such as those taken from the ostrich, parrot, peacock or eagle. They were also known to wear an arm-guard (manica)
Shield: A medium-sized, round, cavalry shield (parma equestris) or a large oval body-shield called a Clipeus
Clothing worn: The Equites wore shirt-like, belted, sleeveless tunics (tunica). The sword belt was called a Balteus
Roman Gladiator Armor
The Role of the Eques (pl. Equites)
There were therefore many different types of gladiator, including the Eques, who specialised in using specific weapons, armor and shields and applying different combat styles and tactics. The role of the eques was that of a horsemen. The equites were the first to compete in the day's schedule of gladiatorial games. These Gladiators were lightly armored as their role required agility. The equites entered the arena on horseback. Their opponents were other equites and their first round of combat would involve throwing a (lancea) or a verutum which was a short, light throwing spear. The eques would then quickly dismount and continue to fight on foot with their short sword (gladius), a 27 inch short straight sword.
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