Gladiator Armor and Weapons
The pairing of gladiators were important and
ironically the Romans expected to see 'fair play' in the
gladiatorial combats. Matched pairs of Roman gladiators of would ensure that
one fighter was hampered by heavy armor whilst the other was
One gladiator might have freedom of movement
but with little armor, or no armor to protect him. The
gladiator matched against him might be more heavily armed and protected but
restricted in his movements by his armor. There were
therefore approximately 30 different types of gladiator who specialised in using specific weapons, armor and
shields. The gladiator weapons were there linked with the
armor that they were given. This included the shields, some
of which were used as weapons against their opponents.
Roman Gladiator Armor
List of Gladiator Weapons
The list of Gladiator armor Gladiator Weapons
details the Latin name used for the weapons with a short
List of Gladiator Weapons
Arcus: Bow and Sagitta an arrow ***
Contus: (Pike or lance) ***
Acinaces: Single edged cavalry sword ***
Fascina: Tridents, harpoons ***
Gladius: Sword ***
Gladius Graecus: Leaf shaped sword ***
Hasta: Spear for thrusting ***
Iaculum: Casting net ***
Lancea: short javelin, or spear ***
Parmula: Small, light shield ***
Pilum: Long, heavy throwing spear *** Plumbatae or martiobarbuli (lead-weighted darts)
Pompeianus: Sword ***
Pugnum: Small shield used for thrusting ***
Pugio: Dagger ***
Sagitta: Arrows ***
Semispathae: Half-swords ***
Sica: Short, curved sword or scimitar ***
Spatha: Long broadsword ***
Verutum: Short, light throwing spear
Definition and Description of Gladiator Weapons
The following facts and
information provides details of the Latin name used for the
weapons with a short description of each of the weapons,
together with useful information about the armor worn by
Gladiator Weapons - The Sica (curved scimitar)
The sica, or siccae, was a curved scimitar, a short, curved sword, with a blade about 16-18
inches long - the most common Dacian sword (The inhabitants
of Dacia are generally considered as belonging to the
Thracian nations). The sica was commonly used by a Thrax
(Thracian) gladiator and the Dimachaerus.
Fascina - Tridents, harpoons
Fascina were long, three-pronged, metal tridents (harpoons)
that were used by the gladiators
called the Retiarii.
Gladiator Weapons - Gladius - Sword
The Gladius was the 27 inch short straight sword, broad
towards the handle, after which the
gladiator was named. The gladiators who used the gladius
were those who were armed with body-shields such as the
hoplomachus and the
Gladiator Weapons - Gladius
Graecus - Sword
The Gladius Graecus was a leaf-shaped short sword originally
used by the Greek hoplites. Hoplites were the
citizen-soldiers of the Ancient Greek City-states which
included Sparta. The Gladius Graecus was used by the
Busturius and Hoplomachus gladiators.
A dagger, weapon of last resort of the Retiarii. The handle
was shaped to fit snugly in the
hand, and the blade was made from either iron or bronze and
was pear shaped.
Gladiator Weapons - Pompeianus Sword
The Pompeianus was a sword used the middle of the first
century AD with parallel cutting edges
and a triangular tip.
Gladiator Weapons -
The acinaces was a single edged cavalry sword.
Spatha - Long broadsword
The Spatha was a long sword, over 75 cms, used by the Roman
cavalry and the type of Gladiator
who rode on horseback. A smaller version of the spatha sword
was used in close combat use in the Roman army before the
gladius was introduced.
Gladiator Weapons - Semispathae or half-swords
Short swords and possibly sometimes daggers were known as
semispathae or half-swords
Small shield which was used for thrusting and smashing.
Hasta (Spear for thrusting)
Hasta (pl.Hastae) is a Latin word meaning spear. The hasta
was not thrown, it was used for
thrusting and approximately six feet in length.
Gladiator Weapons - Verutum (Short, light throwing spear)
The verutum (pl.veruti) was a short, light javelin
approximately 1.1 meters long used for
skirmishing. The ancient term for the javelin was verutum.
Gladiator Weapons - The Sphendone
The Roman sling was
called a sphendone
Menaulion - Spearsenabulum: A 6ft long thick wooden spear
reinforced with long, winged head with an iron point. Used
by Venotores for hunting and also by Essadari. Another name
of a weapon of this type was the menaulion which was used by
strong foot soldiers in the Roman army.
Pilum - Long, heavy throwing spear
The pilum (plural pila) was a heavy javelin approximately
two meters long with a pyramidal
head. The spiculum replaced the pilum c250AD as the main
throwing spear. Pila were sometimes
referred to as javelins.
Gladiator Weapons - Lancea - Spear
The lancea was a short javelin, or spear, used for throwing.
Plumbatae or martiobarbuli (lead-weighted darts)
Plumbatae or martiobarbuli were lead-weighted darts often
stored in the hollow of the shield.
Arrows (sagitta) and bow (arcus)
The normal weapon of Roman archers was the classic composite
bow made of horn, wood, and sinew
held together with hide glue. The bows were able to produce
a draw weight of nearly 160 lb
Contus (Pike or lance)
A contus could be an infantry pike or a riders lance. These
were long, heavy, two-handed
Gladiator Weapons - Iaculum
The iaculum was a weighted casting net - the weapon of a retiarius
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