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
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
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
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.