Female Roman Gladiators Stand Victorious!
Ancient Rome frowned on Women gladiators and there is bare minimal mention of them in the writings of the ancient Romans. This ensured they remained very few in number and they were even banned in A.D. 200 by Emperor Septimius Severus. None the less a handful did manage to achieve gladiator status and to fight in the arena.
Female Roman Athletes vs Female Roman Gladiators
In the world of ancient Rome it was only female athletes that did not perform wholly topless, wearing instead a two-piece bikini like garment.
The occasional flashing of an exposed breast was not unheard of during an athlete’s performance, and indeed it was a feature built into the garments design, but exposing both was totally taboo and utterly unacceptable.
Although male gladiators frequently entered the arena topless, wearing only a knee bandage and a loin cloth, female gladiators would usually wear – besides the knee bandage which was common to all gladiators, additional garments.
However the low social standing of a gladiator (often slaves) did mean that should a female choose to enter the arena topless it was not thought of as unacceptable. This was done, possibly, in order to emphasise that they were female gladiators rather than male.
She would also have worn protective/defensive kit including a shield and a warrior’s helmet, and shin protectors known as greaves. The male gladiators if so inclined would also wear a breastplate. Both male and female gladiators were usually armed with a dagger like sword, a short, curved weapon known as a “sica”
Roman Gladiatorial Eroticism
“In a society so militarised as the Roman one, in which weapons were so popular (but exclusive to men), to see a woman in that role, so different to the usual feminine one, wearing the armour of gladiators and showing so much of her anatomy, should also stimulate the imagination and the libido of spectators.”~ Alfonso Manas of the University of Granada
Roman writings did not however describe topless female gladiators in an erotic context or using language that would imply this.
“Women fought in the arena and they fought very fiercely and we were excited to see them.”