Return to Secutor

The Helmet of the Secutor

Smooth and without decoration, the better not to catch the prongs of the trident or the entangling net, the helmet worn by the secutor completed enveloped the head. The fin-like crest was plain as well, and the eye-holes small to minimize their vulnerability—characteristics that gave the helmet a vaguely fish-like look which would have been appreciated by the retiarius. The helmet was thicker than those of other gladiators and must have been claustrophobic to wear, making hearing difficult and limiting the field of view. Breathing, too, soon would have become labored, as the secutor was forced to pursue his less encumbered adversary.

In this small bronze figurine, which is in the Musée de l'Arles Antiques, the front of the helmet has been tilted up to show the face of the secutor.

In this example from Herculaneum, the helmet lifts from the eye-piece.

A bibliographic note: Marcus Junkelman, who wrote the chapter on gladiators for the catalog that accompanied the exhibition Gladiators and Caesars, also has written another extensively illustrated and authoritative study of gladiators, Playing with Death: Experimenting with the Gladiators of Rome, both of which are cited here. He is the founder of Familia Gladiatoria Pulli Cornicinis (Rooster with cornu, a curved Roman horn), a re-enactment group funded by the Rheinisches Landesmuseum (Rhineland Museum) in Trier.

References: "Familia Gladiatoria: The Heroes of the Amphitheater" by Marcus Junkelman, in Gladiators and Caesars (2000) edited by Eckart Köhne and Cornelia Ewigleben; Das Spiel mit dem Tod: So Kämpften Roms Gladiatoren (2000) by Marcus Junkelmann. (The original picture of the helmet in Junkelmann is in black and white.)

Return to Top of Page