The sequel to the nine-coin Norse Gods series released in 2016, Gladiators is an eight coin range of coins with an identical specification. Struck in high-relief and with an antique finish, these two-ounce fine silver coins depict the various classes of gladiator that fought for the enjoyment of the Ancient Roman citizenry. Sharing a similar visual style to the earlier Norse Gods coins, the first pair of the eight debuted in February 2017 from MDM Deutsche Munze, the German dealer responsible for Norse Gods.
Choosing to step away from the burgeoning ancient mythology market typified by multiple ranges of gods and beasts from the lore of the old civilisation, Gladiators looks at a ‘sport’ as inextricably linked with Ancient Rome as the Legions and the Emperors are. At the time of writing, there are four of the eight coins available to purchase, each detailed below.
The artwork is very much in keeping with Norse Gods and we’d be surprised if the same artist wasn’t responsible for both. The surrounding border carries the series name, the coin subject title and a recurring pattern. Other than the specific coin title, it’s common to all of the coins. The main artwork depicts the gladiator in the arena, the artist choosing to go with a more realistic than stylistic look.
Each coin is struck in two ounces of silver to a high-relief design. The coins are antique finished and share a common obverse (Solomon Islands / Queens effigy). Sadly the extra ounce has gone on thickness so the diameter remains crown-sized at 38.61 mm. Norse Gods was an underrated series in a field boasting a high standard, but we think that on early indications, this one is superior, a beautifully realised set covering an exciting subject. We expect all eight coins to be available before the last quarter of 2017.
he name comes from the Greek meaning armed fighter. They were often armed with a spear and a gladius short sword, as well as a small round shield. Based on Greek Hoplites, they were fully armoured. Although similar to another type of gladiator called Thraex, their helmet was distinguished by the lack of a stylised griffin on the crest, but the helmet could be adorned with a plume of feathers on top and a single feather on each side.
Usually paired to fight against the Murmillo gladiator, the hoplomachus would wear a bronze helmet, a manica on his right arm, loincloth (subligaculum), heavy padding (fasciae) on his legs, and a pair of high greaves reaching to mid-thigh. They wear no shoes so the sand will chafe their feet and give them a challenge.
Justus Lipsius conjectured that it was one of two designations of Samnite, and that Samnites were called hoplomachi when battling a Thracian, and a secutor when matched against Retiarii.
hracian in origin, they were similar to Hoplomachi whom they were often paired to fight, the main difference was the stylised griffin on the helmet crest and the use of a 34 cm long Thracian curved sword in place of the Roman gladius. The sword was called a Sica and was intended to maim an opponent’s unarmoured back.
Their shields were small and square-shaped shield called parmula which were about 60 x 65 cm in size. His other armour included armoured greaves (necessitated by the smallness of the shield), a protector for his sword arm and shoulder, a protective belt above a loin cloth, and a helmet with a side plume, visor and high crest.
They are thought to have replaced Gauls in the arena after that country made peace with Rome.
o doubt an imposing site in the arena, the Essedarius fought from a chariot. It isn’t known if they were in the chariot alone or had a driver. They normally fought with a spear and a sword as a side-arm but sometimes also had a small shield for defence.
They charged their opponent with their chariot until the opposing gladiator was either impaled by the spear, trampled by the horses, or run over by the wheels of the chariot. They were relatively hard to defeat due to the speed of the chariot, but once the wheels were taken out they were easy to kill, if they didn’t know how to ride a horse. It was a common tactic that if their chariot was broken they used one of the horses from the chariot as a mount.
Packaging of the individual coins is of a good quality, understated and in a lightly themed shipper. Like the Norse Gods series from 2016, a polished wood box with a padded felt interior is also available to hold the entire set of eight coins. Finished in gloss black with a silver motif on the lid, both inside and outside, it appears to be a fine way to collate the eight coins.