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Forum Index > Off-topic Talk > Probatio armorum, how were Gladiator weapons tested? Reply to topic
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Craig Shackleton

Location: Ottawa, Canada
Joined: 20 Apr 2004
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Posts: 307

PostPosted: Mon 19 Mar, 2012 11:38 am    Post subject: Probatio armorum, how were Gladiator weapons tested?         Reply with quote

I've recently been doing some research on Gladiators, and found a few references to part of the Gladiatorial pre-game show called the "probatio armorum," in which the weapons to be used were tested/checked.

Most of the references I've found say that they were tested for sharpness somehow. Some say that they were tested against tampering and to show equal quality. Some say they were tested to prevent other kinds of cheating, like poisoning the weapons or something. In addition, somewhere I read that the armour was tested by beating on it with sticks.

A common theme, though, is that the weapons were tested in some manner that displayed their sharpness to the audience. One kids' book says that this was done by using the weapons to chop up gourds or vegetables.

It was clearly a big part of the pomp and ceremony leading up to the combat, and it fits my impression of how the Romans made these things into a spectacle that the testing would have to be something interesting to watch. Unfortunately, I can't find any reliable sources that talk about this in detail.

This is also of interest to me because of the concept of test-cutting, and all of the debate about its value and appropriateness to HEMA practitioners. Please note that I don't actually want to debate the value or appropriateness of test-cutting here.

Does anyone have any good information or leads on this subject?

I did a search of the forums, and only came up with one thread about sport-vs. real combat, but failed to track down the actual reference within the massive topic.

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