Gladiators and Armour

Gladiators have been a guilty fascination of mine for many years, long before I started writing my Domains of the Chosen series. What hooked my young mind was not just the blood and the violence, which can be found anywhere in history (sadly), but the ritual, the sport, and the performance aspects. As soon as I saw that there were multiple types of fighters, with different kits and fighting styles I was all in.

While that fascination has been tempered by adulthood, and greater understanding of things like slavery and the politics of the ancient world, it still remains.


A Tessellated art piece showing various types of Gladiators engaged in their bloody struggle.

The relative lack of armour is interesting, although you will note that all of the types present in the above pciture wear full headgear. The Roman Legions of the time were much better armoured, reflecting the needs of formation warfare, while the people filled the seats see Gladiators bleed as well as show their skill upon the sands. Even the heavier types, such as the Samnite were very exposed to the weapons of their enemies.

It is important to remember that Gladiatorial contests began as funerary games and evolved into the armed contests that we imagine today. Rome was still a culture where blood sacrifice to the gods was enacted, after all.


The variety of armaments and roles each Gladiator would fill on a team also interested me, as did the idea that match-makers would consider different pairings and positions for each type. I have often wondered if the Retiarius with his net and trident, might have had some connection to Poseidon/Neptune when the games had more of a religious significance. Regardless the various types make for an interesting take on fighting, at odds with the more uniform armaments of the Legions. It is an especially rich topic for games, of course.

The Roman Games were as much about spectacle and entertainment as fighting skill, which is reflect in the variety of weapons, armour, and the level of protection provided by a Gladiator’s armour.


One comment on “Gladiators and Armour

  1. […] series. I discussed discovering the Gladiatorial types that hooked me on the arena as a young boy in an earlier post. Imagine my excitement when I discovered the fact that they sometimes flooded the […]

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