Roman Swords

Roman Swords

Roman Sword Image GladiusThe Roman Swords or Gladius is one of the most widely recognized swords of any culture. These swords were in use between 4th century BC and 3rd Century AD. The Romans where highly skilled and disciplined and great weapons such as the sword were a must especially for cavalrymen and infantrymen. The skills of these men and the advances in sword making techniques was one the major factors behind a long and successful military reign. To identify a person’s sword the name was often etched into the blade.

The Romans used all the knowledge they gained from other cultures such as the Greeks and Celts in order to forge these great swords it also allowed them to create a sword for any military situation, examples of this are mountainous regions would require a shorter sword that allowed greater slashing and stabbing, one such sword was the Pompeii Gladius. Another such sword known as the spatha had an extra long reach and was ideally suited for horseback combat.

The Roman sword that really conquered during the expansion of the Roman empire was the short sword. The short sword had a 20″ double edged blade with a diamond tip and became known as “the sword that conquered the world”. This shorter length allowed a soldier to step inside an enemies guard and thrust the sword in any direction at a deadly pace, this would not be possible with a longer sword and that is where it held the upper hand in combat.

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Gladius (English pronunciation: /ɡldiəs/; Latin: lădĭus,pronounced [ˈɡladiʊs]) was one Latin word for sword and is used to represent the primary sword of Ancient Roman foot soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those used by the Greeks. From the 3rd century BC, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians. A fully equipped Roman legionary after the reforms of Gaius Mariuswas armed with a shield (scutum), one or two javelins (pila), a sword (gladius), often a dagger (pugio), and perhaps, in the later Empire period, darts (plumbatae). Conventionally, the javelins would be thrown to disable the shields and disrupt the formation of the enemy before engaging in close combat, for which the gladius would be drawn. The soldier generally led with his shield and thrust with his sword. All types of gladius appear to have also been suitable for cutting, chopping motions and thrusting.

By the time of the Roman Republic, which flourished during the Iron Age, the classical world was well-acquainted with steel and the steel-making process. Pure iron is relatively soft, but pure iron is never found in nature. Natural iron ore contains various impurities in solid solution, which harden the reduced metal by producing irregular-shaped metallic crystals. The Gladius is generally made out of steel. In Roman times, ore was reduced in a bloomery furnace. The resulting pieces were called blooms, which were further worked to remove slag inclusions from its porous surface. Roman swords continued to be forged both as composites and from single pieces. Inclusions of sand and rust weakened the the blades and limited the strength of swords during the Roman period.


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