Gladiator Weapons

The weapons of the ancient Gladiators of Rome were their tools of the trade. If you were to put a gladius sword into the hands of well trained gladiator, you had a killing machine capable of ending a man with a single blow. Every time the gladiator stepped into the amphitheatre, they risked not only their lives but put their trust in their weapons and arms.

It was of course common for the gladiators to have a class or a style of gladiator that they would fight as. This class, like a thraex or a murmillo would determine exactly the weapons these gladiators would use, so each class had it own unique weapon or set of weapons.

Here we will cover as many, if not all of the gladiator weapons commonly used in the Roman amphitheatres.


Below are the weapons used by the gladiators or their foes in the amphitheatres of Rome.


Gladius (sword)

The gladius sword was standard Roman military issue and was a straight broad sword typically used for thrusting attacks. the gladius sword was quite a substantial piece of equipment over 24 inches in length around 50cm.

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A gladius sword, one of the common weapons of the gladiators.

Spatha (sword)

The spatha was a Roman sword that was longer in length and popular later on in the Roman time line. The Roman soldiers switched from shorter swords to the spatha type swords later on in the history of Rome, so its possible this also had similar effects on gladiator battles, with them switching from shorter to longer swords too.

Semispatha (half sword)

The semispatha was simply that a semi spatha, or a shorter sword. Like the spatha this term could be applied to many styles of swords.


The sica was a bladed sword weapon, that was very similar to a scimitar, with a curved blade, suited more to slicing and cutting attacks. The sica were typically around xx in size around * in cm.


Pugio (dagger)

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A pugio, the term given to this small leaf shaped dagger used by some gladiators.

A small dagger used by various gladiators, who typically had weapons not suited for very close combat. While classed as a dagger it could be up to 28cm long with a wide leaf shaped blade. The pugio could be very usefully applied in close combat.

Lances and spears

Hasta (lance)

The hasta was a type of spear but also really used like a lance. This spear was not typically used as a throwing weapon, and was around 6ft around 180cm in length and used in thrusting attacks on a foe.

Lancea (short spear/javelin)

The lancea was a short javelin used to throw easily without having to carry to much weight around.

Pilum (spear/javelin)

The pilun was essentially a javelin, and it was sometimes referred to as such, but the pilum was traditionally a heavier throwing spear than normal javelins. This was used for throwing but not massively common in the amphitheatre. It would be about 2ft long around 60cm and fitted with an iron shank on the end.

Tridents and Nets

Fascina (trident)

The trident was a gladiator weapon adapted from fishing, and was used by the fisherman like retiarius. The trident had three points and was the length of an average spear.

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A gladiator using a trident, the common weapon of the retarius gladiator.


The net was a weighted net big enough to cover a man whole. It was used by the retiarius and again was taken from the idea of a fisherman which the retiarius represented in the amphitheatre.


The lasso was simply a rope with a loop that one latched onto a head or a limb could be pulled tight and would trap its wearer. This was used by the retiarius styled laquerius gladiator.

Bow and arrows

Arcus (bow)

The arcus was the Roman bow and was what was known as a composite bow. This means is was made from multiple layers and materials, which added power and range to its shots.

Sagita (arrows)

The sagita were the arrows used by the arcus bow and Roman archers. these were the arrows of choice for the sagittarius gladiators of Rome.


Caestus (boxing glove)

The caestus a roman boxing glove, adapted from the Greek method and was leather and padding applied to the hands and wrists and sometimes the forearms. The caeastus was designed not to protect the person being hit, but actually the person throwing the punch, as hand breaks were common.

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A selection of gladiator weapons, the cestus boxing gloves.

The Caestus also came in various variations, with metal attached to it, and in some cases even spikes, making this boxing glove even more deadly.


The weapons used in the Roman amphitheatres by the gladiators were diverse and mixed. From the unique trident that actually has its roots in fishing, to the military issue of the gladius sword. The gladiators were willing to use any weapon as long as it brought them a result in the heat of the battle.