Roman Gladiators Essay, Research Paper
By Nick Carroll
May my work benefit all!!
Sorry about the weird formatting…
The topic I chose for the Roman Fair was the munera gladiatorum, or gladiator fights. I
researched weapon and armor used in the fights, actual fighting techniques such as the
standard thrust and parry, and the areas of the body to strike for the quickest kills. The
people in my group researched the history of the gladiator fights, why they took place, and
about the life of a gladiator.
Many weapons were used in the gladiatorial games, though the standard short
sword was the most commonly used. Heavier weapons were used, such as the trident
which is a three pronged quarter staff with barbed ends (often poisoned). Nets and lassos
were lighter weapons used, often with the trident.
The most common armor used in the days of Rome was cuirass. The cuirass was
a shirt of mail or metal plates, with leather straps at the bottom to protect the legs. This
allowed men to move about quickly and offer some protection at the same time. Large
rectangular shields were standard, as were helmets with movable cheek pieces. In the actual
games, small round shields were used because they were easier to use and to move around.
Often no armor was used for the fights. In such a case the fighters would go out in only
loin cloths because if they wore normal clothes, they could be grabbed and gotten into
The main types of attacking were the thrust, slash, and parry. The thrust is just
a simple jab at the opponent. It is quick, but not overly damaging unless you manage to
run your opponent through. The slash is when you bring the sword in an arc at your target.
The slash is the most damaging for the reason that you can cut main arteries, remove limbs
and possibly tear open their midsection. The downside of the slash is that it takes longer to
do, and if you miss with it you leave yourself wide open for attack. The parry is just a
fancy name for block. If you intercept an enemy blow with your sword or shield you have
just parried a blow.
The areas best to strike in the body for a quick kill are the main arteries. Of
course it would also work to cut off the limb or the person?s head. Gut wounds are
effective, though because it takes roughly three weeks to die from a gut wound he might
have enough in him to get you before he goes. If you do strike a gut wound on your target
it is best to remove some limbs while he is suffering from the shock of being run through.
Gladiator fights started off as events to honor important individuals who had died.
Eventually they turned into an event for many special occasions, or for individuals running
for office who were trying to make themselves popular. Some Romans were disgusted by
the gladiator fights and only went because it was expected of them to go,however the
fights grew to be so popular that common crimes could get you sent to fight in the gladiator
The gladiators themselves did have some hope. If a gladiator was really good he
could be given wealth, women, and eventually a chance to fight for freedom. Also,
not every time a fight occurred would there be a death. If a gladiator was obviously over
powered, his victor would turn to the audience. If they waved their handkerchiefs he was
allowed to live, if they gave him thumbs down he was killed