Edition Roman Gladius
Roman Legions were renowned for their brutal, efficient use of the short
sword and over the centuries the style of short sword changed as tactics
changed or were refined. Beginning with the "gladius Hispaniensis"
(based on a Celt-Iberian leaf-bladed short sword), over time the sword
became shorter and broader (the Mainz and Fulham patterns) and culminated
in the "Pompeii" style stabbing sword.
The Pompeii pattern was the first major change in the Roman short sword,
showing that battle tactics had firmly changed to emphasize the thrust
rather than the cut in combat. This type of sword is found on Trajanís
Column -- a marble sculptural monument built during the reign of Emperor
Trajan (98 - 117 CE) -- almost all of the swords depicted on the column
are the Pompeii style.
detail from Trajan's Column
swords of this design were found at the excavations at Pompeii. As these
four swords must have been made before AD 79, when Pompeii was buried
in volcanic ash, they have been tentatively dated to around 64 AD.
Though the Pompeii is a smaller cousin of its predecessors, it is still
an surprisingly efficient cutting sword, despite its seemingly plain blade.
Although the Romans are known to have favored the point in close quarter
fighting, they never abstained from the efficient use of cuts when the
opportunity arose. With the Pompeii type, the point has evolved into a
shorter and sturdier profile. Some surviving examples of the Pompeii style
sword have reinforced points with raised ridges, possibly designed to
punch through leather and thin metal armour.
They were likewise taught not to cut but to thrust with
their swords. For the Romans not only made a jest of those who fought
with the edge of that weapon, but always found them an easy conquest.
A stroke with the edges, though made with ever so much force, seldom kills,
as the vital parts of the body are defended both by the bones and armor.
On the contrary, a stab, though it penetrates but two inches, is generally
fatal. Besides in the attitude of striking, it is impossible to avoid
exposing the right arm and side; but on the other hand, the body is covered
while a thrust is given, and the adversary receives the point before he
sees the sword. This was the method of fighting principally used by the
Romans, and their reason for exercising recruits with arms of such a weight
at first was, that when they came to carry the common ones so much lighter,
the greater difference might enable them to act with greater security
and alacrity in time of action.
-- Flavius Vegetius Renatus. De Re Militari Book I:
The Selection and Training of New Levies, 390 A.D
historian Dionysus of Halicarnassus (contemporary to Emperor Augustus
63 BC-14 AD) describes Roman tactics with swords against the Gauls in
the 4th C BC. Dionysus describes events that is some 300 years earlier
than his own times, but we might perhaps presume that the fighting techniques
he describes were not anachronistic to his own period. It is during the
late 1st C BC that the Mainz type Gladius developed from the longer Gladius
Hispaniensis that the Romans adopted during the Punic wars. Both the longer
Gladius Hispanienis and the Mainz type gladius were effective cutting
swords, even if thrusting was a favoured tactic in close formations.
...Holding their sword straight out, they would strike
their opponents in the groin, pierce their sides, and drive their blows
through their breasts into their vitals. And if they saw any of them keeping
these parts of the body protected, they would cut the tendons of their
knees or ankles and topple them to the ground roaring and biting their
shields and uttering cries resembling the howling of wild beasts...
We can see how the cut was accepted as a perfectly viable method to dispatch
an opponent, if the thrust did not prove effective. Vegetius describes
how recruits are trained using wooden swords against stout posts, as though
attacking different parts of the opponents body. A crippling cut against
the backside of the leg was included in these techniques.
We are informed by the writings of the ancients that, among
their other exercises, they had that of the post. They gave their recruits
round bucklers woven with willows, twice as heavy as those used on real
service, and wooden swords double the weight of the common ones. They
exercised them with these at the post both morning and afternoon.
This is an invention of the greatest use, not only to soldiers, but also
to gladiators. No man of either profession ever distinguished himself
in the circus or field of battle, who was not perfect in this kind of
exercise. Every soldier, therefore, fixed a post firmly in the ground,
about the height of six feet. Against this, as against a real enemy, the
recruit was exercised with the above mentioned arms, as it were with the
common shield and sword, sometimes aiming At the head or face, sometimes
at the sides, at others endeavoring to strike at the thighs or legs. He
was instructed in what manner to advance and retire, and in short how
to take every advantage of his adversary; but was thus above all particularly
cautioned not to lay himself open to his antagonist while aiming his stroke
Vegetius Renatus, De Re Militari Book I: The Selection and Training of
New Levies, 390 A.D
The Pedite guard and pommel are hand-crafted of walnut, the grip turned
from holly, and the inset guard plate and pommel nut are of bronze.
A Limited Edition Hand Crafted Collectible Sword
This sword is offered in a limited edition of only 500 collectible swords
Name That Sword Contest Winner:
"The reason I am suggesting this name is because the word pedes is the
Latin word for foot soldier and the Pompeii Gladius is considered in many
circles to be the most commonly identifiable with the Roman infantry.
While many of us would consider the Mainz gladius to be the classic example
of the form, the Pompeii is I believe more commonly identifiable to folks
who see Rome in modern media."
Overall length: 26.5" (67.3 cm)
Blade length: 19.25" (48.9 cm)
Blade width:1.875" (4.76 cm)
CoB: 4.25" (10.8 cm)
Weight: 1 lb 7.4 oz (665 grams)
The Pedite (Pompeii
now before this limited
edition collectible sword runs out!