The Gladius (Sword) | Tools of War | The Roman Military

Later Gladius

The Gladius (Sword)

For hand to hand combat, the weapon of choice was the gladius hispaniensis, a short stabbing sword. As the name suggest, the sword originally came from Spain. It is suggested that it was introduced by Spanish mercenaries fighting for Carthage in the first Punic war. They had a short, 50 cm two-edged blade, with a long point. The blade was slightly waisted. It had a scabbard made of wood, leather and tin, that hung from the right side.

Later swords used by the Empire were still referred to as the gladius, but only superficially resembled them. These new swords had parallel sides and a shorter point. It probably weighed around a kilogram. They had a wooden handle, and were very well weighted. While the swords were designed for use as a stabbing weapon, they could still dismember opponents with their sharp sides. However, in training the stabbing approach was stressed, as a slashing blow had much less chance of fatally wounding an opponent, since he had bone and armor to protect him, but a stabbing thrust could punch through armor and kill.