Tag Archives: Hoplomachus


Types of Gladiators

Gladiators fights were an important part of the entertainment Romans loved to watch. Although gladiators were made up mainly of defeated enemy soldiers, criminals and slaves they were greatly admired and appreciated by the public. The most successful and therefore famous gladiators were hailed as heroes and achieved the kind of status afforded today to modern celebrity sporting personalities. Of course gladiators were not free and only the lucky ones survived. The brutality of their existence meant that many were killed in the arena to the delight of the blood thirsty Roman audiences.

There were various types of gladiator. Each had a specific set of arms and equipment and was trained in the gladiator school to fight in a certain way. Sometimes two gladiators of the same type fought each other. Alternatively different types could be paired up to fight. In this case each tried to outwit the other using his specialist  fighting style.

Although there are no specific records about gladiator types it has been possible to work out what they were from evidence in mosaics, inscriptions on gravestones, texts by writers of the ancient world, ancient paintings and through armour and equipment found in places like Pompeii.

A retiarius gladiator stabs at his secutor opp...

A retiarius gladiator stabs at his secutor opponent with his trident. Mosaic from the villa at Nennig. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here are the main types:

  • Thraeces
  • Murmillones
  • Hoplomachi
  • Retiarii
  • Secutores
  • Provocatores
  • Essadarii
  • Dimachaeri
  • Velites
  • Paegniarii
  • Equites
  • Andabatae


He carried a small curved sword ( sica ) and a small round or square shield ( parma ). As the shield could only protect his chest and stomach he also wore high leg plates.


The murmillo carried a long shield ( scutum ) and was armed with a narrow sword ( gladius ). Because he had a long shield he wore short leg plates.


The hoplomachus had a lance, short sword and a small bronze shield.


He wore no helmet or armour except for a bronze plate over his left shoulder and upper arm. He carried a throwing net and his maim armament was a trident. He sometimes also had a dagger.


The secutor ore a helmet with small circular eye holes which meant that he had limited vision and had to get in close to his opponent to have a chance of winning.


Equipped with long shields, leg plates on the left leg only, breast plates and short swords.


Rode in chariots and dismounted to fight on foot.


Fought with two swords.


Fought with a spear.


Wearing leather armour and with no helmet or shield they were armed with a whip and a stick with a hook on the end. They generally fought each other.


Wearing multi coloured tunics and with medium sized shields they fought with spears and swords.


These gladiators were either blindfolded or wore helmets with no eye holes. They fought each other with swords.

In addition to the above there were also special gladiators who were trained to fight animals.


Animal hunters.


Men who fight wild beasts.


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