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Help! What are these called?

Mister Nizz

bullet rocketQuestions about Italeri 54mm gladiators..

I've been painting up 54mm gladiators lately, and just finished a box of Italeri 1/32 plastic gladiators last night. In general, I'm very pleased with how well these figures match my Alpha Miniature figures. They are just about perfect. However, I am puzzled as to what kind of gladiators these are supposed to be.

Italeri must have relied on movies for inspiration, because these casts look "kinda, almost" right, but not "exactly right" for certain gladiator classes.

I am by no means a historical authority on gladiators-- I have a general idea of what class did what and what they looked like. I realize there were some variations that "kinda sorta" look right and are perfectly acceptable. I'm just interested in other opinions.

Take figure 1. He's got the shoulder armor of a retiarus, the helmet of a thracian. And he's modeled to throw a spear. What would this be, a Hoplomochus?

In this picture, a Hoplomochus is on the left, standing by as if in a pose of victory. A Thracian (Thraex) gives the sign of submission to the referee (not the blood pouring out of his shoulder!)

So if I add a circular shield to Figure 1, he's a bona fide Hoplomachus (with slightly non-standard helmet.. it's very similar to the Myrmillo).

Figure 2. I'm going to say Secutor, maybe, because of the way he's running about, but the helmet doesn't look right, and I thought they had curved swords. I might have him mixed up with another class.

I'm going to call this guy a Secutor, what the heck. According to this mosaic he's the figure on the right. The shield is right and the helmet pretty close although not exactly right. In the mosaic graphic below a Secutor takes on a Retiarus.

(that's a Retiarus on the left, and he's in trouble. He's lost his net and trident on the ground, and only has his knife left-- note the graphic leg wound!)

Figure 3. What do you call a giant goonish looking axeman? He looks kind of Persian to me.

Figures 4 and 6 have obvious African facial features, which I like a lot, because it adds a little diversity to the mix. On the other hand, neither one of them looks like a standard "gladiator type". Number 4 has a leather (or fabric) sleeve on his left arm. Not banded leather like the other figures. He has metallic greaves and a big belt like a Murmillo. And no helmet. And a small axe. What kind of gladiator is that? Number 6 has chain mail (maybe??) on his legs and right arm-- perhaps Persian? A big broad belt, a standard round shield and gladius style sword. And some shoulder armor and leg armor like a Murmillo. A strange mix. What category would he fall into? I've heard Thracian-- the round shield and sword look right. The leg armor is strange but not totally inappropriate.

In this mosaic a Thracian battles a Myrmillo. The real point of difference seems to be the shields-- the helmets and swords are not that different.

Figure 5 is no great stretch, being a netless Retiarus. I remedied this with a bit of cotton hair netting.

Helmet types:


Myrmillo (note the crest)

List of types
Gladiators were typically picked from prisoners of war, slaves, and sentenced criminals. Different gladiators specialized in different weapons, and it was popular to pair off combatants with widely different, but more or less equivalent equipment. Some of the first gladiators had been prisoners-of-war, and so some of the first types of gladiators, Gauls, Samnites, and Thraces (Thracians) used their native weapons and armor. Gladiator types and their weaponry included:

Andabatae: Fought with visored helmet and possibly blindfolded and on horseback. They were called andabatae, from άναβαται, ascensores, because they fought on horseback, or out of chariots.

Bestiarii: Not really a kind of gladiator, but a specially trained kind of fighter who fought against beasts, usually with spears.

Bustuarii: fought around the remains of a deceased person, as part of his funeral rites.

Dimachaeri ("fighters with two shorts or daggers"): Little more than what their name suggests is known about this type of gladiator.

Equites ("knights"): In early depictions, these lightly-armed gladiators wear scale armour, a medium-sized round cavalry shield (parma equestris), and a brimmed helmet without a crest, but two decorative feathers. In imperial times, they sport an arm-guard (manica) on their right arm and sleeveless, belted tunics, in contrast to other gladiators who usually fought bare-chested, and no greaves.

Essedari ("war-chariot fighters"): The name of these fighters derives from the Latin word for a Celtic war-chariot, esseda. These chariots were still used by the Celts in Britain when Caesar tried to invade the island in 55 B.C. Essedarii appear as arena-fighters in many inscriptions after the first century A.D. Yet since no pictorial representations exist, we do not know anything about their equipment and manner of fighting.

Hoplomachi: Like the Thraces, these heavily armoured fighters may have developed out of the earlier Samnites. They wore quilted, trouser-like leg wrappings, maybe made from linen, a loincloth, a belt, a pair of long shin-guards or greaves, a manica (arm-guard) on the right arm, and a brimmed helmet, not unlike that of the Thraces, with a crescent-shaped crest that could be adorned with a plume of feathers on top and a single feather on each side. Equipped with a gladius and a very small, round shield made of one sheet of thick bronze (an example from Pompeii survives), they were paired with murmillones or Thraces.

Laquerarii ('lasso fighters"): These may be a kind of retiarius who tried to catch their adversaries with a lasso (laqueus) instead of a net.

Murmillones: Named after the stylized fish (Greek mormylos) on the crest of his helmet, a murmillo wore a manica (arm-guard), a loincloth and belt, a gaiter on his right leg, thick wrappings covering the tops of his feet, and a very short greave with an indentation for the padding at the top of the feet. Murmillones carried a gladius (40-50 cm long) and a tall, oblong shield in the legionary style. They were paired with Thraces, occasionally also with the similar hoplomachi.

Provocatores: This type of middle-weight fighter wore a loincloth, a belt, a long greave on the left leg, a manica on the lower right arm, and a visored helmet without brim or crest, but with a feather on each side. They were the only gladiators protected by a breastplate (cardiophylax) which is usually rectangular, later often crescent-shaped. They fought with a tall, rectangular shield and the gladius and were usually paired with another provocator.

Retiarii: Developed in the early Augustan era, the retiarius (net-fighter) carried a trident, a dagger, a net, and no helmet. Except for a loincloth, a manica on his left arm, and a metal shoulder-guard (galerus) above the manica, the retiarius fought naked and was always paired with a secutor.

Samnites: The Samnites, an early type of heavily-armed fighter that disappears in the early imperial period, point to the Campanian origins of gladiatorial contests because the Samnites were a powerful league of Italian tribes in the region of Campania south of Rome against which the Romans fought three major wars between 326 and 291 BC. A Samnis was armed with a long rectangular shield (scutum), a plumed helmet, a short sword, and probably a greave on his left leg,

Secutores: This kind of fighter, specifically developed to fight the retiarius, was a variant of the murmillo and wore the same armour and weapons, including the tall rectangular shield and the gladius. His helmet, however, covered the entire face with the exception of two small eye-holes in order to protect his face from the thin prongs of the trident of his opponent. The helmet was almost round and smooth so that the retiarius' net could not get a grip on it.

Thraces: The Thracians wore the same protective armour as the hoplomachi and a similar helmet, except that theirs was distinguished by a stylized griffin on the protome or front of the crest (the griffin was the companion of the avenging goddess Nemesis). In contrast to the hoplomachi, Thraces were equipped with a small, rectangular (almost square) shield (parmula) and short sword (ca. 34 cm long) with a curved or bent blade (sica). The Thraces may originally have been prisoners-of-war from Thrace. They commonly fought murmillones or hoplomachi.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.