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.
History of the Cataphractarius (pl. Cataphractarii)
The Cataphractarius gladiator originated from the cavalry of Germany and Parthia (Persian Empire) and the Sarmatians from Russia and central Asia. The Cataphractarius was completely covered in armor and so was his horse when fighting for his country. The Roman Emperor Hadrian (r.117 – 138) introduced the Equites cataphratarii to the Roman Army were more heavily armoured than the conventional Roman cavalry. The word 'cataphracta' is often used by Vegitius, who wrote about the equipment of the army of the early Empire, to describe armor of any type, whether worn by infantry, cavalry or horses and elephants. The Cataphractarius gladiator would have worn similar heavy armor and would have rode similarly heavy-armored horses or on foot.