Matched pairs of Roman 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 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 description.
Arcus: Bow and Sagitta an arrow
Contus: (Pike or lance)
Acinaces: Single edged cavalry sword
Fascina: Tridents, harpoons
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)
Pugnum: Small shield used for thrusting
Sica: Short, curved sword or scimitar
Spatha: Long broadsword
Verutum: Short, light throwing spear
Gladiator Weapons - The Sica (curved scimitar) aka Siccae
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 Gladiuswas 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 secutor, myrmillo, hoplomachusand the dimacheris.
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 - Acinaces Sword
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 (sling)
The Roman sling was called a sphendone
Venabulum and Menaulion - Spears
Venabulum: 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 (72.5 Kg).
Contus (Pike or lance)
A contus could be an infantry pike or a riders lance. These were long, heavy, two-handed weapons.
Gladiator Weapons - Iaculum
The iaculum was a weighted casting net - the weapon of a retiarius