For many of you, gladiator will stand for the character played by Russell Crowe in his epic film at the turn of the century. But for those of you who know their history, will be able to recognize these warriors, who were a staple of Roman entertainment industry. If Rome was the Hollywood of the ancient times, then gladiators were the celebrities walking on the red carpet and picking up the awards; if not the Oscars, then may be the Tauruses. Any how, gladiators are as big a part of Roman history, as the Roman gods and the political system.
The gladiators fought in coliseums and amphitheaters, where they had only one rule—fight to live. Almost all the gladiators were considered slaves and were deprived of a Roman citizenship. A loss can mean either a brave death at the hands of the opponent or an execution ordered by the emperor or the audience. Multiple types of games were arranged, which varied in difficulty, combat techniques and opponents. There were multiple types of gladiators too. We list a few types of gladiators for you to understand how different gladiators stood for the different forms of entertainment.
Different Kinds Of Gladiators
The elite types of gladiators included the Rudiarius, the Tertiarius, the Sagittarius and the Amazones. An elite gladiator could sell out coliseums on his own. The Rudiarius were the gladiators who obtained their freedom, but chose to continue fighting in gladiatorial combats, for the entertainment of audience.The Tertiarius were experienced gladiators, who acted as substitutes, if a gladiator was unable to fight. The Sagittarius, were specialized and highly accomplished mounted bowmen. The Amazones or the gladiatrices were female gladiators, who were famous with the crowd for just bringing in something novel. All elite gladiators were well known and had huge fan following. All the types of elite gladiators except Amazones had to fight for many years, before becoming elites.
The heavily-armed gladiator was an extensive class and spanned many types. These included Gallus, who used a lance, helmet and a small Gallic shield, and the Hoplomachi, who wore quilted, trouser-like leg wrappings, a loincloth, a belt, a pair of long greaves, an arm guard and a brimmed helmet that could be adorned with a plume of feathers on top and a single feather on each side. Hoplomachi were equipped with a gladius and a very small, round shield made of one sheet of thick bronze and a spear. They came from Samnites, who used large shields and plumed helmets. This group also included the Provocatores who were distinguished as the only groups who were protected by a breastplate during combat.
Secutores only fought another specialized class called the Retiarius and were typically similar to the Murmillones, who wore a helmet with a stylized fish on the crest as well as an arm guard, a loincloth and belt, a gaiter on the right leg, thick wrappings covering the tops of the feet, and a very short greave with an indentation for the padding at the top of the feet. They carried the popular oblong shield known as gladius. The group known as Scissores used a special short sword called the Roman Scissor. This sword had two blades and looked like a pair of open scissors, but without a hinge.
The lightly-armed gladiators are also of copious types. These include the predominant Dimachaeri, who used to fight with two swords and the Thracians who fought with thraxes (curved swords). The Thracians were used to replace the Gauls, who used to fight gladiator bouts earlier, but after their wars with Rome ended, they were no longer a part of the game. The Eques were Horseback and sword gladiators and the Essedari were the war chariot fighters. Also included in this league were the specialized fighters such as Laquerarii who were lasso fighters, the Paegniarius who used whips, clubs and shields, the Retiarii who were net fighters and the Velites who fought only as a group with spears as their weapons.
These types of gladiators were specialists in some exotic or distinct combat scenarios and were source of genre-specific entertainment. The Andabatae were convicted prisoners, who were forced to wear helmets without any eye holes. They fought blind sighted and with no armor in last man standing scenarios. The Bestiarii were lightly armored types of gladiators, who only fought wild beasts like lions and tigers. The Venatores were ‘wild animal hunters’ who entertained the spectators with their hunting skills. Their combat mostly involved chasing down an animal and hunting it down. The Praegenarii were the 'opening act gladiators'. This type of gladiator only used wooden swords, accompanied to festive music. They were more like trailers to the actual combat and added a light mood to the whole event. The Bustuarii were a type of slave gladiator, who fought in combats to the death, at the funerals of prominent Romans. The Naumachiarii were combatants in sea-fights .The sea fights were arranged at some coliseums.