Types of Gladiators

The Samnite took his name from those people defeated by Rome's Capuan allies in 312 B.C. and the armour he wore and the weapons he used were supposedly adopted as a sign of contempt for the Samnites. He used a large oblong shield (scutum) and wore a metal or boiled leather greave (ocrea) on his left leg. He also wore a visored helmet (galea) with a large crest and plume and was armed with a sword (gladius).

The Thracian wore ocrea on both legs and carried a small square shield. On his head he wore either a full visored helmet or an open faced helmet with a wide brim. His weapon was a curved scimitar (sica) or the Thracian sword which had an angled bend in the blade.

The Secutor took his name from the term for "pursuer" and was an offspring of the Samnite. He fought virtually naked and carried a large oval or rectangular shield as well as wearing an ocrea on his left leg. Typically he was bald and wore a round or high-visored helmet. Often his arms were protected by leather bands at the elbow and wrists (manicae). He was traditionally armed with a sword although occasionally he fought with a dagger.

A lightly armoured gladiator that symbolised the fisherman the Retiarius wore only a loin cloth (subligaculum) and a metal shoulder-piece (galerus) on the left arm. He fought bare headed and carried a net (iaculum) with which he attempted to ensnare his opponents. His weapons included a dagger and a trident or tunny-fish harpoon (fascina). A variation of the Retiarius called a Laquearii substituted a lasso for the net and were of late Imperial origin. Both the Retiarius and the Laquearii were regarded as inferiors due to their lack of armour.

The Mirmillo
The Mirmillo was also called the fish man. It was identified by images of scales on his helmet. He used a short sword and carried a big, round shield that protected his unarmored legs. He often had to fight against a Retiarius. It is kind of ironic, because Retiarius' tried to catch their opponent in a net! Although he looks unprotected, the Romans classified him as a "heavy" gladiator because of his large shield.