chapter  II
41 Pages

In the Arena

The other gladiator was one of those known in the days of Augustus as Samnites and later as hoplomachi, either because it 46

might have seemed insulting to apply to gladiators the name of a people which had for a long time formed part of the Latin community, or because this class had practically disappeared, becoming split into two more specialized types of gladiator: the secutor, the usual adversary of the retiarius, and the hoplomachus, who was matched with the Thracian. It was indeed rare for two gladiators of similar class to fight each other. Each man had his own means of defence and his own technique, differing from that of his adversary, and it was this that partly provided the interest of a combat whose principle consisted just as much in matching two types of weapon as in matching two men. Thus the hoplomachus was deprived of those complicated trappings which his adversary wore, since the exceptional height of his shield-which differentiated him from his predecessor, the Samnite, whose shield was not so large-already assured him sufficient protection; other than the loin-cloth, he wore only an ocrea on the left leg and leather bands (fasciae) on the wrists, the knee and the ankle of the other, unprotected, leg.