Definition of a Bustuarii -
Weapons, Armor, Fighting Styles and Opponents
What type of gladiator was
a Bustuarii? 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 Bustuarii was
a type of slave gladiator who fought in combats to the death at the
funeral ceremonies of prominent Romans
Opponent: This type of gladiator only fought with
Weapons: This type of gladiator fought with a sword (the gladius).
The specific type of sword was the leaf-shaped Gladius Graecus which
was originally used by the hoplites. Hoplites were the
citizen-soldiers of the Ancient Greek City-states which included
Body Armor and helmet worn by this type of
Shield: A small shield
Clothing worn: Canvas Loin Cloth (subligaculum) worn in a variety of colors,
sandals or barefoot
History of the Bustuarii
Gladiators were first
exhibited at Rome in B.C. 264, in the Forum Boarium, a
cattle market, by Marcus and Decimus Brutus, at the funeral
of their father, who was a consul named D. Junius Brutus Pera.
These gladiatorial fights were at first confined to public
funerals, but afterwards fought at the funerals of wealthy
people of consequence and even at the funerals of women.
Romans sometimes left a sum of money in their will to pay
the expenses of such an exhibition involving Bustuarii at
their funerals. The name Bustuarii was derived from the word
''bustum, or funeral pile of a deceased person, in the
The Bustuarii and Roman
Why was a Roman funeral chosen as a fitting place to hold a
gladiatorial fight? The religion of the Romans revolved
around the worship of various gods and a strong belief in an
afterlife. The Romans believed that "souls of the dead were
propitiated by human blood..." The early Romans therefore
believed that human sacrifice at the dead person's funeral
would appease the Roman gods and ensure a safe entrance into
the afterlife. Preparation for Roman funeral rites involved
captives or slaves being bought, trained to kill as
Bustuarii and then sacrificed during the funeral rituals
which were called a munus.