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Fighting stances
The gladiator's fighting stances were mentioned several times, so I found that the topic was missing. Here it is.
..And a question to go along with it.


In this image, besides the fact that the secutor is left handed --or rather uses his left hand for this occasion--- you can see that his right hand is resting on the top of the shield, which rests on the ground.
I vaguely remember a sculpture showing that same position, as well as a text saying that this was actually a fighting stance.. Confusedhock:
Gashford, do you have anything on this?

It's shown here too, from a earlier period.
Incidentally it also shows the thir fighter on the right using a sword loop and letting his gladius hang from it.

Pascal Sabas

In this image, besides the fact that the secutor is left handed --or rather uses his left hand for this occasion--- you can see that his right hand is resting on the top of the shield, which rests on the ground.
I think the secutor is right handed as the retiarius on this picture. The armor protects the secutor right hand which holded the sword. On the left hand (?shoudler?) there is no need for armour.

The retiarius (droped his net) and now use his trident in both hands. On the picture he just holds as a spear on his right. But in generaly when the retiarius has both of his weapons the trident is in the left, which hand is protected by the gallerus, and the net is in his right (better hand) ready for throwing or 'hitting'...

And generaly i think a shielded gladiator(fighter) wil never put down his shield. It is his "best friend". only if he is not capabel to carry it.
Collegium Gladiatorium Hungary
aka Gus ztav Gar as
The first pic shows an unusual situation. The secutor seems to be holding two swords. Apparently, he's taken the retiarius's sword. The retiarius is bleeding heavily from his left side. The secutor holds his right hand high in the gesture that usually means he is prepared to deliver the death blow. I would say that the referees have called a halt to await the verdict of the crowd. The retiarius smiles with bravado and retains his trident, as if he is prepared to continue fighting.
The second relief depicts a similar situation. The righthand figure leans on his shield and retains his sword, as if asking the crowd whether he should continue fighting even though he is wounded (or exhausted). The arena had an elaborate code of gestures to indicate time out, appeals to the crowd, surrender, etc.
I don't think this could be a fighting stance.
Pecunia non olet
I believe the Secutor is pulling the Retiaruis' knife out of his neck ?

The shield drop seems to me akin to the finger submission ?

Conal Moran

Do or do not, there is no try!
This is interesting..
I did not notice the bleeding retiarius, and indeed it could pretty well be that the secutor has a sword in both hands. There seems to be an indication of that at the top of the shield. But the hand he raises is the left one, not the right, and that is what's unusual.
The second picture clearly shows a scene of combat. The right hand man seem to take a breather or wait his turn to fight. But the two characters on the left are definitely fighting each other. With the attacker using the "horizontal shield" stance, obviously an attacking move, well known from several other sculptures and mosaics.
I also vaguely remember a text mentioning a gladiator offering to fight this way, wity the shield down and the left had resting on it.
At all times, you had virtuosos of swordplay. Provided the attacker is not allowed to strike at the left hand, I suspect it's feasible to defend this way.
But I'd loooove to check that out with our real gladiators over here..
Why don't you try it?
Pascal Sabas
I would agree with John, so much is lost to us these days, gestures and symbolism of the arena we can only guess at now.

Many images show the victor lifting his shield instead of his sword as a sign of his dominance, and frequently the dropped shield seems to imply the loss of the fight. However it is interesting that in both cases the dropped shield does not appear to have been discarded as the fighter clings/rests on some part of it.

I had not spotted the possibility of a second sword being in the secutors hand until John mentioned it here, it does look as though the man has two weapons in his hand. Perhaps the pair have reached a stand off somethng worthy of note to make the mosaic interesting.

I haven't done much practical work with the shield resting on the floor as a form of defence at all, but perhaps with a wounded left shoulder (a common place for injuries it would seem looking at the imagery we have been left) that rather than discard a shield too heavy to fight behind it could be used as a natural barrier at least? This would make for a pivotal moment in a fight and possibly one worthy enough to capture on a mosaic when it happened?

All the best

Maybe this style was accompanied with rules.
For instance, if the attacker --obviously not the man with the shield down--was not allowed to touch the shield with any part of his body or his weapons..
That would give a static sort of duel where virtuosity in parrying would be stressed, as opposed to virtuosity in parrying and moving around like in a "regular" duel.
Pascal Sabas
Is that blood coming from the Secutor's back ?
Conal Moran

Do or do not, there is no try!
I know very little about this subject but to me it looks as though the Secutor is pulling a knife from either a back sheath, or as someone else points out, it looks as though it is in his back with blood coming down.
What's the striped thing behind the shield, is it his leg armour ?
The blood on the side of the Retiarius is darker than the rest of the blood, I don't have Photoshop loaded right now, is it actually part of the original mosaic?
The Hoplite Association
The enemy is less likely to get wind of an advance of cavalry, if the orders for march were passed from mouth to mouth rather than announced by voice of herald, or public notice. Xenophon
That does appear to be blood running down the secutor's back, a detail I had missed. And it would be unusual to give the death blow with his left hand since he's clearly right-handed. Perhaps what happened it this: The rete drew the secutor's guard down with his trident and went in over the shield with his dagger, leaving it buried in the man's shoulder or back (and maybe took that wound in his side doing it). Now a time-out has been called (neither man is in a fighting stance) and the secutor is pulling the dagger from his own shoulder rather than having it done by an arena attendant. It would be a moment worthy of commemorating in a mosaic: first the extremely brave and adroit maneuver by the rete, then the macho gesture of the secutor.
Pecunia non olet
It's not a fighting stance.

You would just get your shield kicked away. Very easily.

It _is_ possible to "trail" the shield angled towards you and use it to keep your opponent at a distance (if he has a short weapon) but eventually he will knock it away.

The shield is your best friend, I cannot see the point of trying to use it this way.

[size=150:1nectqej]John Nash[/size]
Romans and Britons wot fight ........

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