Saturday, March 24, 2012

Murmillo and Crupellarius

Murmillo: The murmillo  entered combat with a manica on his sword arm, a short grieve on his left leg only and a large, legionnaire style shield (scutum) and legionnaire style sword (gladius).  The murmillo also had an elaborate helmet with broad rims, a visor and a crest shaped like a the dorsal fin of a fish.  The helmet was typically decorated with feathers or horsehair and generally made of bronze.  Murmillos were never paired against each other. Instead, they were typically paired against the thraex or hoplomachus.  The murmillo's shield was large enough to protect him from his grieve to his chin. The downside is that if the match wore on, the murmillo's shoulder and arm would tire, thus offering his lighter and faster opponent an opportunity to land a wounding or killing blow.

Crupellarius:  This gladiator type is mentioned only by Tacitus, who wrote that the "crupellarius were clad after the national fashion in a complete covering of steel." During a Gallic insurrection by the Aedui tribe, the Romans describe some of the Celts as dressed in iron plates that did not yield to javelins or stones.  A small figurine in France appears to fit the description of the crupellarius, with a helmet shaped like a perforated bucket and the body clad from head to toe in steel.  Wherever the truth lies on this class of gladiator, he looks like a prototype knight to me and I would not want to face him in the arena.

Statuette of a crupellarius from Versigny, France
These Crusader miniatures were a blast to paint and I hope to get plenty of use out of them.  These were the first 28mm I've painted since I quit Warhammer years ago.  So, why don't I paint 28mm?  When asked why he robbed banks, Willie Sutton  replied "that's where the money is." 15mm is where the action is locally and no member of our club is painting or fielding 28mm armies.  On the other hand, Brent and the St. Paul Irregulars use 28mm exclusively for their Impetus games.  I may circle back to 28mm before 2012 is out.

To write the back story on gladiator types for this project, I supplemented my gladiator books with on line reading.  While doing so, I discovered that quite a few bloggers have already been down the gladiator path.  On that theme, we'll exit the gladiator project with the Barenaked Ladies "It's All Been Done!"


  1. Good paint jobb !!! Nice with some more colours on the arm padding.

    best regards dalauppror

  2. Loving this series! Great work again.

  3. Very nice. I´ve never heard of a Crupellarius before. Funny thing is...he is badly hindered by his helmet..basically crippled and the german word for someone who is crippled is Kruppel. and on the theme of robbing banks...Ned kelly..he wore a bucket on his head as well. :-D

  4. Thanks guys!

    And Paul, interesting note on the German word and it fits Tacitus' description of the Gauls fighting in this style. Apparently, the legionaries swords were useless so they had to take pick axes to them.

  5. Those helmets are suckers. I put a replique on at the museum in Xanten (life sized and with the weight of the real thing). I have a strong muscular neck, but the weight was so much it still allowed no fast moves. My better half could not even wear it without me supporting the helmet with my hands.

  6. Wow, thanks for sharing! I'd heard of a replica sets but you were very lucky to try it on. What you described matches Tacitus' account, that the wearers tired out, were beaten into submission or ended up flat on their backs like a turtle! Germany has one of the premier experts in gladiators in Junkelmann. I heard rumors that his works will be translated to English but it hasn't happened yet. Maybe one day!