What Did Gladiators Wear?

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Gladiators wore armor assigned to them based on a system of classes. The armor complemented the weapons and other equipment they were assigned. Because most gladiators were male slaves sworn to fight to the death if necessary, they did not usually own or wear anything that did not directly serve this purpose.

Gladiators were divided into categories according to their fighting style and the armor and weapons they possessed. About lists 14 gladiator categories, and each wore their own particular styles of armor.

Samnite gladiators wore an ocrea on the left leg, which is metal or boiled leather armor designed to protect the shin. They also wore a galea, a visored helmet with a large crest and plume. They carried a scutum, or large oval shield, and a gladius, a type of short sword.

Hoplomachi gladiators were clad in similar armor to the Samnites, but they also protected their other shin and wore mail or leather cuirasses, which provided armor for their front torsos. The Provocator also had all of the Samnite body armor, but this style added a parma, or round shield, and a hasta, or lance.

Other classes of gladiators were clad differently from the Samnites. The Andabatae were known for their helmets, which did not have eye holes. Myrmillo, sometimes Murmillo, wore visored helmets with a fish on the crest and a manica on their left arm, which was made of mail, leather or metal scales. They also had “ocrea on at least one leg, a scutum and a straight Greek-styled sword,” according to About.