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Murmillones

Roman Colosseum

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History, Facts and Information about the Murmillones
Gladiators were divided into different classes according to their weapons and fighting styles. There were strict rules and protocol surrounding the fights of gladiators. A gladiatorial fight would usually involve two gladiators but similar types of gladiators such as the Murmillones, would not normally fight each other.

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. The Murmillones symbolised Vulcan the God of Fire.

Gladiator Weapons
Roman Gladiator Armor

History and Origins of the Murmilliones
The Romans enjoyed the spectacle of watching the fighting styles of their defeated enemies. But the Murmillones, a variety of the Secutores, emerged to fight the Retiarius gladiator. The Retiarii used  the trident as a weapon which was also well known as s symbol and weapon of Neptune, the God of the Sea. The Murmillo (meaning 'the one following'), symbolised Vulcan the God of Fire, because fire always pursues. A fight symbolising the opposites of fire and water. The Murmillo was a variation of the Secutores gladiators.

Definition of a Murmillones - Weapons, Armor, Fighting Styles and Opponents
What type of gladiator was a Murmillones aka Myrmillo or Murmillo? 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 Murmillones was a type of Roman Gladiator. The Murmillones evolved as a gladiator in order to fight  the Retiarii (net-fighter) and wore a helmet with a stylized fish on the crest (the mormylos or sea fish) from where his name derives
  • Opponent: This type of gladiator usually fought with aRetiarius (pl. Retiarii meaning "net-man" or "net-fighter") who was a Roman gladiator who fought with equipment styled on that of a fisherman. The Retiarius (Retiarii) were lightly armored so they had the advantage of agility, mobility and speed.

  • Murmillo Galea Helmet - The Murmillones wore a helmet with a stylized fish on the crest (the mormylos or sea fish)

  • Weapons: This type of gladiator fought with a sword (first the the gladiuswhich was eventually replaced by the Spatha). The gladiators who used the gladius were those who were armed with body-shields such as the secutor, hoplomachusand the dimacheris.

  • Body Armor and helmet worn by this type of gladiator: 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 purpose of the small eye-holes in the helmets of the opponents of the Retarius was to prevent the narrow prongs of the retiarius' trident from penetrating to the eyes .

  • Shield: The Murmillones carried a large, rectangular, semi-cylindrical body shield called a scutum

  • Clothing worn: Canvas Loin Cloth (subligaculum) worn in a variety of colors, sandals or barefoot

Murmillones - 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 Murmillones, who specialised in using specific weapons, armor and shields.

Roman Colosseum
Gladiators

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