Reenactment Event at Corbridge Gladiator Tournament End of Roman Age Society
Corbridge, 2nd June 2002
End of Roman Age Society
With the weather miserable and the ground wet and squelchy underfoot, I take my hat off to the barefooted gladiators who were a great success with a cheering crowd.
Some entered somberly, some entered loudly. But this Samnite gladiator entered with that much bravado, it was worth a photograph.
The fighting opened with a Retiarius taking on a native Celtic woman. Try as she might have, the lady didn't stand a chance against a fighter who knew what benefits to reap from a trident with which he could keep her well out of range. Once her shield was gone, she stood no chance.
The Celtic woman was not to be the only female in the arena. These two amazons gave no quarter and battered the living daylights out of each other. But the winner of this bout was quite easily dispatched by the gladiatorial heavyweights who qualified for the final rounds.
The bout between the Samnite and the Secutor was perhaps the finest combat of the tournament. Both were relatively evenly matched. The Secutor's large shield helped make up for his very limited visibility in his helmet. The Samnite danced around his foe, using his tiny shield to parry any blows as he sought a way around that large shield.
It was a classic fight of the large shield and the small shield, much fancied in Roman days. However, at some point through the fight, the wily Secutor rid himself of his helmet. Alas, this swung the balance and the poor Samnite soon found himself in trouble. But I fear in a real fight there might well have been an archer standing by to assure the fighters didn't get up to such smart ideas...
Once downed and dispatched to the beyond, the Samnite was dead meat which was to be removed from the arena. Something in which the scrupulous Secutor was quite willing to lend a hand in.
Skilled as he might have been with his trident, the Retiarius soon came unstuck, when he came up against the heavily armoured Hoplomachus. Why ? Well, any Roman could have told you. He was missing one vital ingredient: a net. With it he might well have caught himself an iron-plated fish. Without it, however, he was quite literally chased around the arena, until he was cornered and done for. Although to his credit, he did at one point manage to rid the metal brute of his shield...
The final combat was a short, sharp affair. With the helmet of the Hoplomachus having come to pieces in one of the earlier fights, one could hardly expect the Secutor to be wearing his metal contraption. Instead they faced each other with bare heads.
The picture on the right captures the very moment when the Secutor withdraws his blade having just punctured his opponent.
'Call me Maximus Decimus Meridius...'
The Secutor towers over the floored Hoplomachus who raises his hand beseeching the crowd to spare his life...
Crowned with a victor's wreath, the triumphant Secutor bows down to the editor (traditionally the guy who's paying for the event - in this case a lady from English Heritage) and receives the rudis, the great prize which granted a gladiator his freedom from slavery.