Roman Colosseum

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History, Facts and Information about the Scissores
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 Scissores, 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.

Gladiator Weapons
Roman Gladiator Armor

History of the Scissores - the Slashers and Carvers
Little is known about the gladiators who were referred to as the Scissores, apart from their name and the type of weapon they used. Their nicknames were 'slashers' or 'carvers' which conjure up horrific pictures in the imagination. They were apparently armed in a similar fashion to the Secutores. The information regarding the armor of the Scissores is therefore taken from this information. The Scissores were grouped in the class of gladiators who were heavily armed. Obvious opponents would therefore have been gladiators such as the Retiarii, who were more agile as they were lightly armed. The Romans enjoyed novelty and they liked to display their power an inventiveness in the arena. This is possibly a reason why the Scissores emerged as gladiators. Scissors were probably invented by the Egyptians but c100AD Roman craftsmen developed cross-blade scissors where the blade-edges crossed and slid past each other when cutting. These scissors rested in an open position after use. Perhaps this Roman invention sparked the novel idea of using such implements as deadly weapons. An obvious target for the Scissores would have been the net of the Retiarii.

Definition of a Scissores - Weapons, Armor, Fighting Styles and Opponents
What type of gladiator was a Scissores? 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 Scissores were a type of heavily armored Roman Gladiator who fought with swords fashioned like shear-like open scissors

  • Opponent: This type of gladiator only fought with lightly armored gladiators such as the Retiarius(pl. Retiarii meaning "net-man" or "net-fighter"). The Retiarius (Retiarii) were lightly armored so they had the advantage of agility, mobility and speed

  • Weapons: This type of gladiator fought with the like shear-like open scissors. He possibly also carried a gladius to 'finish' his opponent

  • Helmet - The Secutores wore a smooth, round, close-fitting helmet that minimized it being caught by the net of the Retiarius. The helmet also had two small round eye holes making it difficult for the Retiarii to gauge the eyes of the Scissores with is three-pronged trident

  • Body Armor 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

  • Shield: None

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

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

Roman Colosseum

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