Neo Roma is a human colony in The Arena: A Prequel to the Chronicles of Everen. Created by rich criminals, the colony is the setting for the first book. The inhabitants of Neo Roma like to pretend that they're reliving Rome's glory days with all the benefits of modern technology. This results in not only slaves of all kinds to serve their needs, including gladiators.
Though the Neo Roman colonists aren't always true to history, the kinds of gladiators featured in The Arena are historically based. This is the first in a series about the different kinds of gladiators you might hear about in The Arena.
Duncan Greyson is the hero of The Arena. When he's sold as a gladiator, he has to learn the basics about the different kinds of gladiators, how each type gets different weapons, armors, and opponents. The best of the best in the Rossi School for slaves is Mahmud “Mom” Kartal who has the arena name The Ottoman. Duncan befriends Mom and Mom teaches him how to be a dimachaerus.
So, this week we'll start with the dimachaerus. We'll look at what kind of opponents a dimachaerus might face, their weapons, and armor.
The Dimachaerus is equipped with what's called the sica sword in the Arena. These are like a curved gladius, short and menacing. They are 16-18 inches in length. As such, they'd primarily be used for slashing attacks more than a stabbing weapon.
While there was a type of gladiator who would use a single sica and a shield in history (The Thrax or Thracian gladiator), dimachaeri would use two sica blades. In fact, that's how they get their name. Di= two and machiari=knife.
Examples in history are scant and they can be seen also bearing the usual famous short sword, the gladius. The important part here is that they are equipped with two swords.
Wielding two weapons at the same time is difficult. To be a dimachaerus, you have to be good at using your blades for both attacking and blocking, as they had no shields. It is a highly-mobile fighting style that is dependent on getting in close and never stopping. Duncan has to build muscle memory (that is, learning to fight without thinking which requires a lot of repetitive work), and it's mentioned that he is ambidextrous.
Although in some historical examples they are depicted as wearing some armor, such as helms, most evidence suggests they had very little armor. In the Arena, dimachaeri are equipped with nothing but basic leather wrappings for arms and legs.
For a highly-mobile fighter, armor will weigh you down and get in the way. To a certain degree, the lack of armor can be seen as useful. However, because they don't have any armor, they have to learn to dance around their opponent. Any hit can be devastating because there's little to deflect or lesson the blow.
To make a fight interesting, mobile gladiators were typically paired with gladiators who had more armor and heavy weapons. The dimachaerus is pitted against hoplomachus who had a spear, gladius, and large shields.
It becomes an uphill battle for a dimachaerus to fight someone like the hoplomachus. They have to get in close while their opponent has a weapon to not only keep them far, but around a large shield they hide behind. If the dimachaerus gets in close, the hoplochachus has their short sword to rely on.
Come back soon where I'll continue to discuss the different kinds of gladiators, how they fight, and their roles in the Arena.
Want to learn more about the Dimachaerus?
Check it out here: