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Gladius balance
#1
I was comparing the balance of my Del tin gladius with an 1853 French short sword (modelled on the gladius but with a brass hilt), and found the balance of the Del tin gladius was far more towards the blade- in comparison , it felt unbalanced. This is probably inevitable given a wooden pommel and guard and a micarta hilt as opposed to a brass hilt on the French short sword. Looking into medieval swords, the large pommels were often used as a counter-weight to balance the blade.<br>
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My question is- given the egg-shaped large pommel depicted on a gladius, have we got it all wrong by making them of wood? Should they be metal to counter-weight the blade? Certainly, the shape would be perfect for a counter-weight.<br>
Your thoughts?? <p></p><i></i>
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#2
<em>My question is- given the egg-shaped large pommel depicted on a gladius, have we got it all wrong by making them of wood? Should they be metal to counter-weight the blade? Certainly, the shape would be perfect for a counter-weight.</em><br>
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Actual finds of handle assemblies (handguard, handgrip, and pommel) are of wood or bone (in an unknowable proportion, given differential preservation), and usually not mixed, with the odd exotic example made of ivory (not all of which may be elephant-derived, given Roman access to narwhal products - although I don't know of any analytical work along these lines as yet). The only metal components were the tang and a button at the end to hold the handle in place (I wouldn't count the odd silver foil coating for these purposes;-)<br>
<br>
Mike Bishop <p></p><i></i>
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#3
I'd imagine the front balance is even more pronounced when you reconstruct the pommels at the proper (smaller) size, which few reenactors do!<br>
As an aside, i'd be curious if the Second century ring pommel gladii demonstrate a more even balance... <p></p><i></i>
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#4
Perhaps this weighted end was to give the gladius more punch when being thrust? A heavier end would add to the point's puncture capability when vs armoured opponents. <p></p><i></i>
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#5
"Perhaps this weighted end was to give the gladius more punch when being thrust?" I think the converse is true- a heavier blade/ pommel ratio makes it heavier to hold horizontal and can lead to "blade droop" (!)- but will help the force of a slash of hack. This suprises me as I'd previouslythought of the gladius as a thrusting weapon in massed ranks of scuta rather than a hacking sword- even if on the vertical plane between scuta.<br>
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Regards<br>
<br>
<br>
Paul <p></p><i></i>
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#6
Avete!<br>
It would be nice to see more detailed research on original blades to determine their thicknesses and see how they weighed and balanced when new. A lot will depend on the distal taper, i.e., how much thinner the metal is at the point than at the hilt. Albion's blades all have about a 50 percent distal taper, and their sword gurus have examined at least one original blade which apparently had that kind of taper. But from the few cross-sections I've seen, very few other blades had much taper at all--and at least one actually got thicker just at the point! (Does Feugere shed any light on this in his new book?)<br>
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With a Pompeii gladius, I'm not sure good balance is all that crucial. The blade just isn't big enough to be too heavy or clunky (bearing in mind that many of our repros today are wider than most originals). In a hand that trained daily with a double-weight practice sword, the "bad balance" of a stabbing sword wouldn't make any difference.<br>
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With the Mainz and especially the hispaniensis, however, I agree that they are made for cutting as well as thrusting. Polybius tells how shocked the Macedonians were upon being literally chopped to pieces by Roman swords. One good article on a group of surviving hispaniensis blades in vol. 8 of JRMES shows cross-sections and gives thicknesses, and even allowing for a size increase due to corrosion, these blades really look like "sharpened crow bars"! My own hispaniensis repro is a bit more elegant, but not balanced like a good medieval sword. It would work just fine, however, and if I were in decent physical shape I would have no trouble thrusting with it. And when you pick it up, you REALLY want to swing it at something!<br>
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As with many other things, it looks like the Romans were not concerned with optimizing balance according to our standards. What they had worked just fine, for them.<br>
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And Magnus, you should KNOW that swords are not made for going THROUGH armor! Tsk, tsk! Never bother striking at your opponent's armor, your chances of penetrating it are just too small to make it worth the effort (and risk). Go for the soft parts instead.<br>
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Valete,<br>
<br>
Matthew/Quintus, Legio XX <p></p><i></i>
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#7
Hello all<br>
<br>
Justa quick aside, do we know whether the Romans where even interested in balancing weapons as we are today. Just from casual reading not anything specific it seems that balancing weapons was a technilogical discovery and not something that just happened?<br>
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Anyone got any details at all as this would effect our thoughts quite a bit I should suspect?<br>
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All the best <p>Graham Ashford
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#8
Well "balance" of an object is, in my opinion easily discovered and implemented by anyone. Whether balance is useful depends on how you use the weapon.<br>
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I imagine that if you rotate a long object with the wrist then balance is probably a good thing. In particular I imagine that balance might be a plus when using long blades as it is easier to set in rotation and, vice versa, to control it if it is set in motion by an adversary's blow.<br>
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How about the spatha? It would also be interesting to check whether gaul (celtic) long blade weapons were balanced.<br>
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But I must add I know nothing of roman fencing, or any fencing for that matter, except from what I gather from sculptures, paintings and of course Hollywood!<br>
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<p></p><i></i>
Jeffery Wyss
"Si vos es non secui of solutio tunc vos es secui of preciptate."
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#9
Hi there<br>
<br>
Ahh Hollywood, what little any of us would know if it where not for Hollywood<br>
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I imagine rudimentary concepts of balance and its effects on the blade must have been known to the men that used the weapons, I suppose it ultimately comes down to how the blade was actually used.<br>
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I am just curious about the concept of POB (Point of Balance) just because I wonder about how much of our concepts of the Romans is contaminated by 1500-2000 years of development in many areas. Many advances in weapons and armour such as fullers, tempering techniques, articulation etc ... come after the Romans, at least on an industrial scale and I wondered whether we have any idea of the Roman ideas of POB as it might shed considerable light on how the employed the gladius in combat?<br>
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Just a few thoughts, but like yourself I do not know much abut the subject as nothing seems to have come to light so far, at least not as far as I have found.<br>
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All the best <p>Graham Ashford
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#10
Whoops! You're right matt! You can whack me with the optio's staff in June. But I couldn't help remembering you stabing yourself with your pugio on the girdle plates...a practice I've taken up with my gladius, much to the awe of the public!<br>
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Most of Rome's enemies were less armoured anyway, right? So they had more "soft" spots to hit? <p>Magnus/Matt<br>
Legio XXX "Ulpia Victrix" Coh I<br>
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#11
Balance.<br>
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I've found most of the several replicas I've wielded to be balanced, not in a Medieaval and Renaissance sense where much of the documented sword techniques involves a considerable amount of slashing or point touch, but in what might be called a Roman sense, in that the weapon iin my opinion is balanced for long use with minimal fatique.<br>
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I've found the gladius to be an excellent endurance stabbing weapon, everything from stabbing for deep penetration or for pushing it to target through a press of bodies. Keep in mind that recovery to "en guarde" or the counter blow is just as crucial as initial blow delivery. The manner in which the gladius is balanced facilitates this action.<br>
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In addition it works just as well for high target thrusting, for blind stabbing around the scutum, or over the top downward stabbing, even for stabbing up from a low stance. Because it is slightly point heavy it is excellent for whip slashing in which you attack a rear target point on your opponent . Also good for quick downward diagonal chops in which you minimize arm exposure but are still able to deliver a cut through a minimal gap towards an opponent diagonally to your right front.<br>
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The broadness of the blade suggest that it is also a durable parrying and blocking weapon. I have also been told that a wider blade is also less likely to get caught up in meat, bone and sinew.<br>
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The gladius moves well in a crowd.<br>
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My SCA version was heavier than most of the replicas I've handled and I did not experience arm fatigue even after 3 days of combat. Maybe that's why I find a replica gladius so easy to wield. A Roman soldier ought to have found it even easier than I have in my years of experience.<br>
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Salvete<br>
<br>
Gaius Valerius Tacitus Hibernicus, Centurio<br>
LEGIO IX HISPANA COH III EXPG CEN I HIB<br>
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