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Pre Augustan Gladiators
Just like the Roman Miles changed in appearance and equipment through the ages, so did the Roman Gladiator change during the centuries.
One of the most interesting periods of Gladiatura might have been the few centuries before the Augustan reforms.
One of the most striking difference between Pre- and Post- Augustan Gladiatura is the apparent length of the weapons and the open faced helmets. As we can deduce from iconography the Gladiators Gladius was of the contemporary military Mainz type, and the protection to the face gradually developed from the usual Cheek-Pieces growing together and finally meeting before the face to create a full visor.

Here are a few iconographic sources of the 1st. century BC:
Provocatores and Murmillo (Roma, Museo Nazionale Romano alla Terme di Diocleziano):
[Image: 294384955_759b917bbd.jpg]
High Res:
Equites - note the Lorica Squamata (München Antkenmuseum/Glyphotek):
[Image: 713120568_c78597c056_z.jpg]
Equites (Iserna Antiquario Comunale) :
[Image: 2418732155_1af3ee0646.jpg]
High Res:
Essedarius/Gallus or Provocator? (Iserna Antiquario Comunale):
[Image: 2419547182_33720bf51c.jpg]
High Res:
[Image: 887619210_736cf91e73_o.jpg]
[Image: 227769459_b96bf8eebb_o.jpg]
High Res:
[Image: 2513376479_835e54c678.jpg]
High Res:
Hoplomachus (Pompeji Archeological Depot):
[Image: 704157027_ec9eb5b5e2_z.jpg]
High Res:
Thraex and Murmillo:
[Image: 5447826968_c2375c0789.jpg]
High Res:
Thraex, Hoplomachus and Essedarii, (Roma - not exhibited as far as I know):
[Image: gladiators-medium.jpg]

Another common feature is the short Manica resembling the Olympic Caestus glove, as well as the peculiar style of the Subligaculum with knot and sash.
Olaf Küppers - Histotainment, Event und Promotion - Germany
Thanks for this thread, Olaf.

Where can these reliefs and statues be found?
M. Caecilius M.f. Maxentius - Max C.

Qui vincit non est victor nisi victus fatetur
- Q. Ennius, Annales, Frag. XXXI, 493

Secretary of the Ricciacus Frënn (
That's the most convincing evidence of the use of vambrace-like forearm protection in ancient Rome I've seen. I didnt think of a short manica or a cestus when I saw those reliefs, but instead I thought of padded leather forearm/hand protection. Not to say they don't represent either of those, they very well could and most likely do. I would imagine that a cestus is a great way to inflict bloody, crowd pleasing wounds in the most non-lethal way they could.

Would it be a stretch to speculate that your average miles would wear something similar in battle? Especially if it could be made with scraps easily attained on the march, like cloth from old tunics, leather from torn bags and clipped horse hair. Just add a needle, thread and some free time while wintering over in a fort.

Thank you for posting all of these pictures, I don't think I'd ever seen any of them before.
Max Little
Cestus of the Quirinal Boxer:[Image: Boxer_of_quirinal_hands.jpg]
Christian K.

No reconstruendum => No reconstruction.

Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas.


[Image: BannerAER-1-1.jpg]
Of course, when refering to the Caestus I was talking about the padded "glove" part of it, not the layered leather "knuckle duster" part.
On the first and last relief posted above the lacing on the inner side of the glove can be seen.

Like the Manica it was only worn on the weapon hand and was probably meant to protect the fingers and forearm against collisions with the opponents shield surface and rim.
Anybody that has tried out Freefighting with Gladiatorial weapons will have experienced how quick you can hurt your weapon hand.
Olaf Küppers - Histotainment, Event und Promotion - Germany
Ciao Olaf,
I am very curious about the “Essedarius/Gallus or Provocator?” relief and the statue of the “Hoplomachus”. Could I ask you some information on these two finds? … in what museum (or museum warehouse) they are preserved...
Thank you in advance!

ὁπλῖται δὲ ἀγαθοὶ καὶ ἀκροβολισταί (Strabo,IV, 6, 2)
I have added the locations of the items I know of. Note the pictures are from various users on Flickr, and I have only collected them in my account for easy reference.

The Hoplomachus/Essedarii Relief was found by the Italian police during a raid against smugglers of archaeological items. I doubt it has been exhibited to the public since then.
Olaf Küppers - Histotainment, Event und Promotion - Germany
Olaf wrote:

I doubt it has been exhibited to the public since then.

Unfortunately, as this article of the Corriere della Sera (dated 07 March 2011) explain, the conditions of this Relief are not so good...
Recovered in 2007 in the countries of Fiano Romano, as far as I know, till today only 6 blocks are (badly) exposed in the little museum of Lucus Feroniae (Capena), and the others 7 are hidden under a large piece of canvas.
Hope something can change.

Lucus Feroniae (Capena, Roma)(

Attached Files Thumbnail(s)

ὁπλῖται δὲ ἀγαθοὶ καὶ ἀκροβολισταί (Strabo,IV, 6, 2)

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