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The Kit behind the Revolt
Salvete Gladiatores!

After a regrettable hiatus from RAT I have returned. During my unexpected time away from the computer, I have been pondering a question. How were the gladiators of Spartacus' revolt equipped? Did they cast aside the ornate gladiator gear in favor of more practical Roman military gear, or did they choose to wear the modified garb of a gladiator in hopes of using the Roman's stereotype of the manly, fearless, warrior against them? Additionally, I wonder if they got first pick of the scavenged gear over the ordinary, or if it was every man for themselves. I'm acutely aware of the lack of evidence, but I would like to take a fresh angle on studying the Spartacus revolt.

Sincerest Regards,


Undergrad student majoring in Social Studies Education with a specialty in world history.

"conare levissimus videri, hostes enimfortasse instrumentis indigeant"
(Try to look unimportant-the enemy might be low on ammunition).
First you have to note, that during Spartacus time, the Gladiators did not have the same arms and armor found in Pompeji.
Actually many Armaturae would have fought with "ethnic" military gear.
Provocatores and Galii had Gallic Helmets of the Weissenau and Port types, while Thraces wore Hellenistic Phrygian helmets and Hoplomachoi wore Hellenistic Macedonian types.
Murmillones and maybe also Thraces would wear helmets like those shown in this thread:
Greaves would resemble late Hellenistic types for the most part.

The weapons also still resembled late Mainz Gladius, so only the short Manicae, the Pectorals of the Provocatores and Parmulae of the Thraces and Hoplomachoi already seem to differ quite a lot form contemporary military items.

It is very likely that early on the Gladiators would still use some of the arms and armor from the Ludus, but they would certainly armor up with any Lorica or Scutum they would have gotten their hands on, since no close combat technique in the world will protect you adequately against missile weapons, so a big shield and good coverage by body armor is a must to survive on any Pre-Blackpowder battlefield.
Olaf Küppers - Histotainment, Event und Promotion - Germany
According to Plutarch (Life of Crassus), the rebels first used gladiatorial weapons and equipment, but discarded it after defeating the first troops sent against them:

"... the gladiators repulsed the soldiers who came against them from Capua, and getting hold of many arms of real warfare, they gladly took these in exchange for their own, casting away their gladiatorial weapons as dishonourable and barbarous." (Plutarch, Crassus, 9.1)

Presumably the 'dishonorable' part relates to the rebels' desire to be seen as soldiers rather than runaway slaves.

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