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Velites

Roman Colosseum

'The Roman Colosseum'

History, Facts and Information about the Velites
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 Velites, 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

Definition of a Velites - Weapons, Armor, Fighting Styles and Opponents
What type of gladiator was a Velites? 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 Velites (Singular: Veles) were a type of Roman Gladiator who  fought on foot using a spear called a hasta. The Velites were named after a class of light infantry in the army of the Roman Republic and fought with the same weapons hastae amentatae and the gladius

  • Fighting style: The Velites were lightly armored gladiators so they had the advantage of agility, mobility and speed.

  • Opponent: This type of gladiator often fought with similar gladiators. The name of such groups of gladiators was Catervarii. The Catervarii did not fight in pairs but with a number of others who fought together as a common enemy. They would often re-enact battles against chariot riders (think of the movie, Gladiator!)

  • Weapons: This type of gladiator fought with a spear called a hasta. The Hasta (pl.Hastae) is a Latin word meaning spear. The hasta was not thrown, it was used for thrusting and was approximately six feet in length. They were also armed with a gladius sword

  • Body Armor and helmet worn by this type of gladiator: The Velites fought without a helmet  and no body armor

  • Shield: None

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

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