Weapons of the Gladiators & Standards

Ludus History
Gladiators of Ancient Rome
Common Misconceptions
Gladiators In Action
Types of Gladiators
Weapons & Standards
Suppliers & Resources
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Secutor vs. Retiarius
Picture by Martin the Basher from Brittainia

Gladiator Gear:
Galea: Helmet, made of bronze.
Manica: Arm-guard, could be made of quilted linen, leather, or metal.
Subligaculum: Loincloth.
Ocrea: Greaves, made of bronze.
Scutum: Shield
Gladius: Short sword
Pugio: Dagger
Hasta: Spear
Fuscina: Trident
Inretire: Net

The weapons and armor used by the gladiators were modeled after the type of people they are portraying as well as what the army was using at the time.  Now even though the army used a short sword, the sword seen used by gladiators in almost every moasic, relief, and depiction is seems shorter than that used by the army around 30cm.  Now this could be due to the fact that the Romans had a horrible time conveying proportions or it could be because they did use smaller weapons.  The "daggers" found at the gladiator school in Pompeii were 19.5 to 29.7cm long.  The Thracian sica sword had a blade as 30.5 to 45cm long

Ludus Gear:
The ludus gear is just like it would have been in the ancient world, plus a few additions for personal safety.  We wear the same helmet/armor, carry the same shield, and use the weapons as the original gladiators did.  A big difference that everyone will notice are the weapons.  In Ancient Rome the weapons would have been made from iron or bronze sharpened to a fine edge.  In the modern world we do not use sharpened weapons for obvious reasons.  Instead we yield wooden weapons shaped and painted to look like actual weapons. 
We make swords and daggers out of white oak, laminated for strength.  We use ash for spear and trident shafts and thick felt with padding for spear heads.  Even though these are just wooden and fabric weapons they still pack a good punch!
Two other additions that are not so easy noticed is an athletic cup/pelvic protector and a mouth guard for gladiators with no helmet.  Gladiator fighting is a full contact sport but in places were we can place modern protection without compromising historical accuracy we do what we can.  These two pieces are in place for your protection and are MANDATORY to step foot in the arena!

Ludus Standards:
Dress and Appearance: First things first, you must have the correct helmet, armor (if any), weapons, and shield that your gladiator carries.  We have all seen the movie Gladiator and watched all the seasons of Spartacus but they are not historically accurate!  While some things are correct, others are not.  We have a duty to not only entertain the crowd but show them what actually happened! 
First is your subligaria: 
  • All new fighters wear a WHITE subligaria.  This is to show the crowd you are a virgin to the sands.
  • When you have proven yourself in the arena with victories and favor of the crowds you are awarded a RED subligaria.  To show the Empire that you are trained in the sport of blood!
  • If you prove yourself worthy to be called a gladiator with noble victories on the sands and with pleasing the crowd you might be awarded the YELLOW scarf.  This scarf is given by the Lanista as a token to show gratitude for your efforts in the arena.  This scraf can be worn on the arm, leg, or as a bandanna if no helmet is worn.
  • For those that survive the years and bring honor to the Ludus through victory and service they are awarded the title of Champion and a GREEN subligaria.
  • Only past and present Lanista wear a BLUE subligaria.
Below is a representation of how a subligara is constructed and worn.


***For all of our female fighters a bra/sports bra or modern support must be worn under a period wrap.***

Equipment: Not only does your gear need to look the part of a Roman gladiator but it also needs to be able to protect you and survive the fights as well.  If you are not able to purchase equipment from one of our recommended suppliers or if you want to create your own gear make sure they will stand up in a fight. 
  • Red oak is used for swords, laminated hilts and pommels for strength.  (Red oak is more commonly found here in the US)
  • Ash for trident and spear poles.
  • Padded manica need to be at least one inch thick and MUST cover the shoulder and wrist.
  • Leather belts need to be at least 8oz leather, if not better.  Belts need to cover the kidney!
  • Helmets and greaves need to be at least 16 gauge if not better.  This will make them very heavy but not only is it historically accurate but it will also protect you and be able to last.  The padding in helmets do not have to be "historically accurate", they can be modern material or padding methods.  A chin strap is also highly recommended!
  • All shields must be edged in leather.
All armor and weapons made and not purchased by one of the suppliers need to be inspected by the Lanista or a Champion before used in the arena!

Safety: For all male gladiators an athletic cup is REQUIRED to fight in the arena!  For all female gladiators a pelvic protector is REQUIRED to fight in the arena!  For the few gladiators that do fight without a helmet (Retiarius, Noxii) or fight with an open face helmet (Samnites) a mouth piece is REQUIRED to fight in the arena!  Only modern safety equipment may be worn, not its ancient Roman counterpart.
If any weapon is broken, if any part of armor is broken the fight is immediately halted!  This is not historically accurate but we all have lives to attend to in the modern world.

Personalization of Equipment: You are strongly recommended to personalize your equipment.  If you are a myrmillo and you want a horsehair crest that is black and white, APPROVED!  If you are a hoplomachus and you want to paint the head of Medusa on your shield, APPROVED!  If you have a leather straps on your manica and you want to dye the leather strapes red and black, APPROVED!  Your gear should represent you and your fighting style. 

How to Win: To gain a victory in the arena the Ludus follows these simple rules. We use the honor system to count points!  We also employ another non bias person to be a referee when needed.
  • Three non-fatal hits is a kill.  A non-fatal hit is in the arm, leg, or a slash to the chest, back, or abdomen.
  • One fatal hit is a kill.  A fatal hit is a thrust to the chest, abdomen, or back


There are only two shots that are "illegal".  The first is for all fighters male and female, no groin shots!  Second is no head shots for fighters not wearing helmets (Retiarius) and wearing open face helmets (Samnites).

Imperial Gladiator School * 104 Hunters Wood Drive * Summerville * SC * 29485 * 843.437.5587