There are numerous stories of the andabatae and how they fought in ancient Rome in the Colosseum. The andabatae were not gladiators as such and their role was more for comic relief or entertainment. The andabatae were typically thought to be criminals, they were given no armour except for a helmet with limited or no visibly, and armed with a gladius sword to swing widely.

Because of their lack of, or very limited visibility, the andabatae were typically herded or managed in the arena by workers. They would keep the andabatae close enough to each other to have a chance of conflict and to ensure the whole spectacle didn’t turn into a hiding or running game.

The andabatae were thought to be merely criminals as apposed to trained gladiators, so likely their fighting skill was much lower than that of the professional gladiators. there were also multiple andabatae thrown in to fight at once, and while we don’t know how many exactly, its likely it was necessary to have quite a few to fill the arena sufficiently.

The andabatea could also likely be classed as noxxi gladiators who were criminals, prisoners or slaves not good enough to be gladiators. They were typically put into unfair or hard to win matchups similar to the situation of an andabate.

Weapons of the andabatea

Even though they were not supposed to win, the andabatae gladiators were still given a weapon to use, and it was traditionally the gladius sword. Because of their lack of vision or limited vision however, there was little in the way of tactics that they could use, more than likely they swung widely with their gladius on the feint hope they would make contact with another unlucky andabatae.

andabatae 1

A selection of gladiators, all granted a better fate than the andabatea.


As the andabatae were essentially used as comedic relief they were given no armour at all apart from their helmets. Depending on which accounts you follow, the helmets of the andabatea gladiators are reported to have had no eye holes, or one eye hole. Of course a helmet with no eye holes or very limited visibility is not the most useful protection, but would have afforded them a chance of survival if a glancing blow was bounced off it.

Fighting style of the andabatea

As we mentioned the fighting style of the andabatae was absolutely limited! they could only swing and flail with their gladius sword outstretched. there might have been

Some accounts talk about the andabatae using their hearing to try and understand where their opponents were. This may or may not have been true, i can imagine the noise int eh area was almost deafening when fighting. Additionally with andabatae almost being a comedy act, i’m sure the crowd were cheering hollering and laughing, as these hapless gladiators fumbled and swung.


Of course like any gladiators the andabatae were thought to also have a chance at redemption. Should a sole andabatae survive it’s thought they could be offered their freedom, but really there were supposed to be no real winners from this rather wicked but likely a comical event for the Roman citizens of the time