The Gladiators Book of GLADIATORIS shall be accompanied by an extensive glossary with the definition of many Latin terms: Gladiator types, weapons and armor, rituals and customs at the arena, gods and festivities… Several of the games from the Games Book is designed from this documentation, reviewed by our specialist, Alfonso Mañas, and of which we show here a part.

Next we list the gladiator types that appear in the basic edition (members of the different teams in the game) and in its expansions, as well as the gods and goddesses, who intervene through special cards. 

gladiator tYpes

Gladiators were classified into several types (or armaturae) according to their equipment. Members of the same type were not normally opposed to each other, so a gladiator fight would pit two gladiators from different types against each other.

Desultor (pl. desultores): literally, “one who leaps off”. He was not a gladiator type, but an acrobat rider whose main skill was to leap from one horse to another at full gallop. They were also skilled in riding two horses at the same time (having one foot on the back of each horse). Of Greek origin (apobates), desultores performed in the circus.

Dimachaerus (pl. dimachaeri): Gladiator type who fights with two poignards (machaerae) or with two swords, one in each hand. He normally fights against another dimachaerus. To fight with two swords is demanding, because it requires using one sword to parry the rival’s blows whereas the other sword is used to attack. Therefore, there are few gladiators who choose to fight as dimachaeri. The dimachaerus also uses helmet, manica and greaves (ocreae).

Hoplomachus (pl. hoplomachi): He sports two high ocreae, his helmet is adorned with a high crest of feathers and the helmet’s visor has two circular holes. He is the gladiator type who “fights as a hoplite”, using a lance (hasta), a dagger, and a reduced version of the Greek hoplite shield (called a hoplon). He is typically opposed to the murmillo and the thraex.

Laquearius (pl. laquearii): Evolution of the retiarius, he changes the retiarius’ net for a noose (laque), which is easier to handle than a net. He catches his opponents with the noose. In the other hand he would wave a trident and a poignard (the two at the same time, like the retiarius), with the manica and the galerus also on that arm.

Lusitor (pl. lusitores): Comic character who entertained the public during the breaks between the fights. It is a fictional character introduced in Gladiatoris at the request of the first players. Thus, he was a character who –in ancient Rome– never fought in gladiatorial fights.

Murmillo (pl. murmillones): Gladiator type, the typical opponent of the thraexhoplomachus, and the retiarius. It derives from the gallus, using his weapons. Sometimes his helmet was decorated with the motif of a fish. For this reason, the retiarius used to sing to him the following couplet: “I’m not chasing you, I’m chasing the fish. Why are you running away from me, Gaul?” The name murmillo derives from mormyros (μορμύρος), the Greek name for a fish species.

Paegniarius (pl. paegniarii): Buffoons that parodied the fights of the gladiators. Paegniarii jumped into the arena between one gladiator fight and the next, while the arena was being prepared, and they hit each other with sticks and whips. They had a small wooden shield attached to the left forearm, which they used to parry the opponent’s blows.

Provocator (pl. provocatores): Gladiator type who wore a kind of breastplate (called cardiophylax). Since the cardiophylax was an excessive advantage (over the rest of gladiator types, who fought bare-breasted), the provocator only fought against another provocator.

Retiarius (pl. retiarii): The retiarius is the most popular gladiator type. His basic arms were the net (rete) and the trident (tridens), plus a poignard which he used to slit the throat of his opponent if he had received the death sentence (iugula). He tried to get away from his opponent, in order to reach the distance he needed to be able to throw the net over him.

Samnis (pl. samnites): It is the first gladiator type that appeared, because it dates back to the time of the Samnite Wars (from 343 to 290 BC), when the Romans brought to Rome thousands of Samnite war prisioners, and forced many of them to fight as gladiators. They used shield, lance (hasta), sword, and ocreae. The Samnite gladiators always fought against each other, until the second gladiator type was introduced: the gallus (around the second century BC).

Secutor (pl. secutores): This gladiator class was called secutor (chaser) because he chased the retiarius, his common opponent. His helmet is shaped like an egg and has no adornments, so that the net of the retiarius cannot get hold of it. The secutor derives from the murmillo.

Thraex (pl. thraeces): Gladiator type who fights with a dagger that has a curved blade (or shaped like an L), the sica, designed with that shape in order to reach and stab the opponent that is protected behind his shield. The thraex uses as protective equipment the parma, high ocreae, and the manica. The thraex appeared in the 80s BC (it was the third gladiator type to appear, after the samnis and the gallus). His typical opponents are the samnis, the murmillo, and the hoplomachus.

roman gods and goddesses

Aesculapius: Roman god of medicine, the Greek Asklepios. Son of Apollo, he was instructed by the centaur Chiron and he even brought a few back to life from death.

Aius Locutius (literally, ‘Affirmation that speaks’): Mysterious deity that manifested itself as a voice in the year 390 BC on the Palatine Hill. The voice warned a plebeian that the Gauls were to invade Rome. The plebeian told the authorities about it, but they ignored the warning due to the man’s humble status. A few days later, the Gauls entered the city, sacking and burning it. When the Gauls left the city, a temple to Aius Locutius was built at the foot of the Palatine Hill.

Bellona: Roman goddess of war. Of horrifying features, she was represented on a chariot, holding a torch and a sword, or a lance.

Ceres: Roman goddess of agriculture, identified with the Greek Demeter.

Dis Pater (literally ‘Rich Father’): Deity from the underworld, of Gallic origin, who was eventually assimilated to Pluto, god of the underworld.

Fames: Goddess of starvation, who dwells at the gates of the underworld, beside the goddess of poverty. Her mother is Discordia (discord).

Fatum: Roman god of Fate.

Fors Fortuna: Fors (Chance, masculine) united to Fortuna (Abundance, feminine) were considered as a sole divinity, Fors Fortuna (Good Luck), who embodied those two aspects.

Iuno: Juno, Roman goddess, the wife of Jupiter, the equivalent to the Greek Hera. Together with Jupiter and Minerva, she formed the Capitoline Triad. One of the several epithets by which she was worshipped was that of Iuno Moneta (Juno the Warner), because during the Gallic sack of Rome in 390 BC, the geese in her temple atop the Capitoline Hill started to honk, warning the Romans that they were being attacked.

Iuppiter: Jupiter, supreme god of the Roman religion, the equivalent to the Greek Zeus. God of heaven and lightning, he is the most important god of the whole assembly of the twelve main gods (the Dii Consentes) and of the Capitoline Triad.

Iustitia: Roman personification of Justice, the equivalent to the Greek Astrea and Dice.

Libitina: Goddess that looked after the fulfilment of the obligations owed to the dead, for which reason she presided over funerals. Her temple was in a sacred grove on the Esquiline Hill. Her name was given to the gate of the amphitheatre through which they took out those who had died in the arena (porta libitinensis).

Mars: Roman god of War, the equivalent to the Greek Ares.

Mors: Roman personification of death, the equivalent to the Greek Tanatos.

Ops: Roman goddess of plenty. She had a temple on the Capitol.

Orcus: Name of a demon of the underworld, identified with the underworld itself. He was represented as a bearded giant.

Parcae: Roman deities that personified destiny, the equivalent to the Greek Moiras. They were represented in the Forum by three sculptures (the tria fata).

Proserpina: The wife of Pluto, god of the underworld. She is the equivalent to the Greek Persephone.

Quirinus: Roman warrior god and protector of agriculture. He had an altar in the Quirinal Hill and formed a triad with Jupiter and Mars.

Vesta: Roman goddess of the hearth, home, and family, the equivalent to the Greek Hestia.

basic dictionarY

You will find the definition of each term in the Book of Rules of the game.

Amphitheatrum (pl. amphitheatra)


Arenarius (pl. arenarii)

Arma lusoria


Arma summittere

Armatura (pl. armaturae)

Balteus (pl. baltei)

Cena libera

Cardiophilax (pl. cardiophylax – cardiophyles)


Cavea (pl. caveae)

Crematio (pl. cremationes)

Damnatio (pl. damnationes)

Damnatus (pl. damnati)


Doctor (pl. doctores)

Edicta munerarius (pl. edicta munerum)

Editor (pl. editores)

Familia gladiatoria

Fascia (pl. fasciae)

Forum (pl. fora)

Fuscina (pl. fuscinae)

Galea (pl. galeae)

Galerus (pl. galeri)

Gladiator (pl. gladiatores)

Gladius (pl. gladii)

Habet, hoc habet!


Harenarius (pl. harenarii)

Hasta (pl. hastae)

Have imperator, morituri te salutant!

Hoplita (pl. hoplitae)


Iaculum (pl. iacula)

Incitator (pl. incitatoris)

Infamis (pl. infames)


Lanista (pl. lanistae)

Leges gladiatoriae

Libellus munerarius

Libitinarius (pl. libitinarii)


Lorarius (pl. lorarii)

Ludi imperiales

Ludi meridiani


Ludus (pl. ludi)

Lusio (pl. lusiones)

Magister (pl. magistri)

Manica (pl. manicae)


Medicus (pl. medici)

Melior (pl. meliores)

Minister (pl. ministri)

Missio (pl. missiones)


Momomachia (pl. monomachiae)

Munera sine missione

Munus (pl. munera)

Munus legitimum

Ocrea (pl. ocreae)

Palus (pl. pali)

Par (pl. paria)

Parma (pl. parmae)

Parmularius (pl. parmularii)


Pollice verso


Porta Libitinensis

Porta Triumphalis

Postulaticius (pl. postulaticii)

Praemium (pl. praemia)

Procurator (pl. procuratoris)

Prolusio (pl. prolusiones)


Rete (pl. retia)

Rudiaris (pl. rudiarii)

Rudis (pl. rudes)

Saturnalia (nombre plural)

Scutarius (pl. scutarii)

Scutum (pl. scuti)

Seconda rudis

Sestertius (pl. sestertii)

Sica (pl. sicae)

Sparsio (pl. sparsiones)

Sparsio missilium

Spatha (pl. spathae)

Spongia (pl. spongiae)

Stans missus (pl. stantes missi)

Subligaculum (pl. subligacula)

Summa rudis

Tabula (pl. tabulae)

Tertiarius (pl. tertiarii)

Tessera (pl. tesserae)

Tridens (pl. tridentes)

Velarium (pl. velaria)

Venatio (pl. venationes)


Gladiators, the great spectacle of Rome

Alfonso Manas is PhD (with European Mention) in History of Sport by the University of Granada (Spain), his PhD dissertation dealt with gladiators (Munera Gladiatoria: Origin of Mass Spectacle Sport). He has published several academic articles on the matter, and he is the author of the book Gladiadores: el gran espectáculo de Roma (Ariel, Barcelona, 2013).