In search of a Gladius (for me).
After the successful completion of my twentieth fight in front of an audience, I was awarded the right to wear steel weapons and symbolically the gladius of the founder of our ludus. I used this gladius to have some fun with my opponents for a little bit, but it was not mine. So I immediately went in search of my own, personal gladius. During my research I noticed that the weapons of the gladiators were often depicted in a rather rudimentary or simplified way (fig. 1), if they were still recognizable at all (Fig. 2).
Among the representations that look „authentic“ to me, I found a Secutor tombstone with a good representation of the gladius (Fig 3). The gladius has a wide short blade and a short point. This representation suggests a gladius of the Pompeii type. The quillons appear to be oval and there is a distinct widening at the end of the handle. I personally like the 1st century grips, with the „grip grooves“. The handle is as wide as a hand and the fingers automatically grip the grooves, which makes the gladius feel good in the hand. The handle should be appropriate for a gladiator, simple and inexpensive, so made of wood. For practical considerations, it would be good if the handle or blade can be replaced without breaking anything.
With these guidelines, I checked out various online retailers and saw what was on offer. At Outfit 4 Events I found some beautiful gladii and spathae. Since none corresponded to my exact ideas, I asked whether a production according to my specifications was possible. Everything was no problem. Delivery time is about 10 weeks from order. So I sent my ideas. The communication was unproblematic and when the gladius arrived everything was as desired, except for one small thing. The tip was a little longer and more pointed than I wanted. I guess my opponent will have to pay for that now. Jokes aside, the rules of the ludus will decide if this needs to be improved to ensure everyone’s safety. The tang of the blade goes through the whole handle and is attached at the end with a nice „cap nut“, so there is the possibility to replace the handle if this calls earlier missio than the blade.
My gladius has a blade length of 30 cm, a blade width of 44 mm, a 3mm striking edge, an oval parry flattened on the sides, a 13 cm handle, so that the glove fits in, and a beautiful oval pommel made of wood.
After a few fights I can draw first conclusions: The gladius fits well in the hand and the blade is stable. I noticed a minor drawback: the metal fitting of the guard always shifts a bit when fighting. It seems to be only clamped between blade and parry and not further attached. Respectively, the recess for the tang must be too large, so that the fitting can move.