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20 Gladiator Types

Updated: Jun 1

20 types of gladiator found in the Colosseum and Roman Empire's arenas

The following are the most common gladiator types found in the texts written at the time and in images which still adorn Roman villas and buildings rediscovered all over modern Europe.

Different Types of Gladiator who fought in the arenas of the Roman Empires
Different Gladiators over Five Centuries of the Roman Empire

  1. Andabata - Often fighting blindfolded for comedic effect, Andabatae engaged in disoriented melees that entertained spectators with their unpredictable antics.

  2. Bestiarius - Unlike typical gladiators, Bestiarii specialised in fighting wild animals, a spectacle that thrilled crowds with its danger and unpredictability.

  3. Cestus - Fighters who used leather straps or metal-reinforced gloves to turn their fists into deadly weapons, engaging in brutal boxing matches.

  4. Crupellarius - Sheathed in nearly full-body armour, these gladiators were heavily protected but moved slowly, requiring them to rely on strength over speed.

  5. Dimachaerus - These gladiators wielded a sword in each hand, focusing on offensive tactics and the ability to engage foes with a whirlwind of strikes.

  6. Eques - Mounted on horses and initially armed with lances, Equites displayed their equestrian skills before dismounting to continue fighting on foot.

  7. Essedarius - Fighting from chariots, Essedarii brought the dynamics of chariot racing to the arena, armed with spears or swords to combat their adversaries.

  8. Hoplomachus - Wearing gear inspired by Greek hopolites, Hoplomachi were well-armed with spears and small shields, focusing on a mix of agility and tactical fighting.

  9. Laquearius - Similar to a Retiarius but armed with a lasso in addition to a dagger, they sought to snare their opponents from a distance before moving in for the kill.

  10. Murmillo - Clad in heavy armour and wielding a large shield and sword, Murmillos often faced Thraeces and Hoplomachus in battles highlighting defence against agility.

  11. Noxii - The lowest class of gladiator, typically criminals condemned to death, who were often sent into the arena unarmed to die as a form of public execution.

  12. Paegniarius - Less commonly known, these gladiators specialised in non-lethal exhibitions, often using whips or blunt weapons to entertain rather than kill.

  13. Provocator - Armored like a legionary, Provocatores fought one-on-one duels that mimicked traditional military combat, showcasing their disciplined fighting style.

  14. Retiarius - Lightly armoured with a net and trident, Retiarii relied on their speed and tactical skills to entangle and overpower their opponents.

  15. Rudiarius - These were freed gladiators who chose to return to the arena; they often enjoyed special privileges and could fight in matches as seasoned veterans.

  16. Sagittarius - Mounted archers who used bows to strike from afar, Sagittari showcased their marksmanship in the vast spaces of larger arenas.

  17. Scissor - Bearing a unique bladed weapon that looked like a pair of scissors, Scissores could trap opponents' weapons and deliver crippling blows.

  18. Secutor - Designed to chase down Retiarii, Secutors wore heavy armour and a helmet with minimal eye holes to prevent net entanglement, emphasising close combat.

  19. Thraex (Thracian) - Equipped with a curved sword (sica) and a small square shield, Thraeces used their gear to outmanoeuvre and strike at the exposed sides of their enemies.

  20. Venator - Specialising in wild animal hunts, Venatores were trained to confront and kill beasts such as bears, lions, and other exotic creatures brought to the arena.


Given that the Roman Empire lasted around 500 years, Gladiator styles evolved over time according to trends, fashions and the personal tastes of each Emperor. No doubt there were more types of gladiators than listed here. Throughout this book, you will see more in-depth descriptions of gladiators and some illustrations conveying their awesome power.

Gladiator 2.0 - Behind the Battles -2000 Facts, Fights and Tales of Triumph in the Colosseum

150 New AI Generated Images from Ancient Texts and Murals Found in Roman Buildings and Paintings

Immerse yourself in the thrilling world of 'Gladiator 2.0,' where ancient history and gripping narrative converge. This book offers a deep dive into the lives of Roman gladiators, exploring their training, battles, and the vast array of weaponry specific to different fighter types.

Beyond the arena, the book sheds light on the complex social dynamics of Rome, including the intricate roles of women and the surprising personal relationships of the gladiators themselves. With over 2000 fascinating facts and 150 full-color illustrations, 'Gladiator 2.0' provides a vivid reimagining of gladiatorial life, making it a must-read for history enthusiasts and fans of Roman culture.

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