Gladius (Roman short sword)
A short stabbing sword with a blade between 20-24"(50-60cm) long and about 2 inches (5cm) wide, with an unguarded hilt. The tang normally consisted of three pieces , a rounded hilt, a grip with four finger ridges to fit the fingers and a bulbous pommel.The Gladius developed from a spanish style of sword to allow Roman legionaires to fight side by side with shields taking the blows of the longer swords of their enemies. The gladius was worn in a sheath on the right side, with its small size allowing it to be draw by the right hand, which is easier for someone carrying a large shield in the left hand than having the sheath on the left hand side of the body. The Gladius was replaced by a longer sword worn on the left the Spatha during the second century AD.
How to cite this article:
Dugdale-Pointon, T. (15 January 2001), Gladius (Roman short sword), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_gladius.html