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Roman Gladiator

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Roman Gladiator
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Photo Comments

View of a carved relief of a Roman Gladiator in an attack position — found at Ephesus.

The gladiator wears equipment very similar to that of a Roman soldier.  On his helmet (the Cassis or Galea), note the horsehair plume (not normally worn when in battle) and the sidepiece that shields his cheek and neck. On his upper body he wears a breastplate that is made of strips of overlapping iron held together by leather. On his upper right arm an armband is visible.

In his left hand he holds a typical elongated but curved shield (scutum). These were made out of pieces of pressed wood and were curved so as to deflect the blows of missiles and blows directed at the soldier. Note the projecting "knob" (= umbo). This protected the gladiator's left hand and it could be thrust at the head of an opponent.

In his right hand he holds the 18 in. [0.5 m.] standard short sword called a gladius. The gladius was used in a thrusting, not slashing, fashion. On his left leg his greave covers his shin and his sandal is clearly visible.

Compare the imagery used in Ephesians 6:11–17: "Put on the full armor of God . . . so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground . . . with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace . . . take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

This image courtesy of Linda Kane.