History, Facts and Information about the Gallus, heavily armed gladiators
Gladiators were divided into different classes according to their weapons and fighting styles. There were strict rules and protocol surrounding the fights of gladiators. The first Roman Gladiators, such as the Gallus, 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. Gallus (aka Gallus, or Galli) referred to prisoners of war who came from Gaul (Latin: Gallia) which was the Roman name for the region of Western Europe consisting of present day Northern Italy (around the Po valley), France, Belgium, western Switzerland and the areas of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the River Rhine.
Gallus - Matched Pairs
Combats between similarly armored gladiators would demonstrate superior skills when gladiators were fighting against equally armed opponents. However, contrasting types of fighters were also carefully selected in order to achieve a reasonably fair pairing. Matched pairs of gladiators of would ensure that one fighter was hampered by heavy armor whilst the other was lightly armed. One gladiator might have freedom of movement but with little to nothing to protect him, whereas the other gladiator might be more heavily armed and protected but restricted in his movements by his equipment. There were therefore many different types of gladiator, including the Gallus, who specialised in using specific weapons, armor and shields.
Definition of a Gallus - Weapons, Armor, Fighting Styles and Opponents
What type of gladiator was a Gallus? 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 Gallus was a heavily armed gladiator who was armed in Gallic fashion as warriors from Gaul
Opponents: There is limited information regarding the opponents of this type of gladiator, but Gladiators who wore little armor, so had freedom of movement, such as the Retiarius, Dimachaeri or the Laquerarius would make novel opponents for the heavily armed Gallus
Weapons: The Gallus gladiator fought with a sword (the gladius) or occasionally a lance
Body Armor and helmet worn by the Gallus gladiator: The Galea, a visored, smooth, bell-shaped helmet, with decorative crests. He wore an Ocrea, or metal greave, on the lower left leg. His right arm and wrist was protected by a manica of tied linen or leather
Shield: The Gallus carried a large, rectangular, semi-cylindrical body shield (scutum)
Clothing worn: Canvas Loin Cloth (subligaculum) worn in a variety of colors. He also wore sandals or went barefoot
The Gallus and Samnite gladiators were the models for the later secutor and murmillo gladiators.
The Role of the Gallus
The role of the Gallus was dictated by his heavy armor which would have made him a lot less agile than his opponents. His smooth helmet was less likely to become entangled in the net of the Retiarius.
The Gladiator School of the Gallus - Ludus Gallicus
The Emperor Domitian, who reigned from 81 AD to 96 AD, commissioned the building of the four great imperial schools of gladiators in Rome. All of the gladiator schools were located very near to the Roman Colosseum. The Ludus Gallicus was the smallest of the gladiator schools and specialised in training gladiators who were heavily armored starting with the Gallus and then incorporating the Samnite gladiators. The other heavily armed types of gladiators soon followed to receive training at the Ludus Gallicus.
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