The Cestus and the Glove

This is a boxing poster showing several angles of the Roman cestus. The poster shows, in detail, what these ancient Roman boxing gloves looked like and how they were worn. These boxing gloves are seen in various Roman mosaics and they also often appear in ancient literature. In fact, the “caestus” (in Roman) appears in one of the most popular literature classics, the “Aeneid,” by Virgil. The “Aeneid” recounts the story of the boxing match between Dares and Entellus, wherein both contenders were given equally matched cesti from Aeneas.

Ancient Cestus

The cestus was often outfitted with blades, spikes or lumps of metal which dealt much more damage than modern boxing gloves. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as an ancient form of brass knuckles. There are numerous variations of the cestus, such as the “myrmex” (or “limb-piercer). One of the most popular phenomena in Roman times, the gladiatorial bouts, also made use of the cestus. These fights-to-the-death became more brutal over the years until the pieces of equipment were finally banned in the first century BC.

Modern glove

While the cestus was designed and modified to deal more damage, the modern boxing glove is designed to cushion impact. Modern gloves are used to protect both the striker and the receiver. The extra cushioning of boxing gloves absorbs some of the impact of the punch. When a punch lands, the impact that is received is spread out over the surface of the cushioned glove. This means that the impact returned to the puncher is also cushioned, causing less chances for dislocation, fracture, or other injuries. With regards to safety, these boxing gloves have vastly improved as compared to the classical cestus. Today, there are numerous different types of boxing gloves that can be used. These gloves are often differentiated by their weight, their use, and their material.

Detailed Views of a Roman Cestus a Leather Glove Used in Ancient Boxing

Detailed Views of a Roman Cestus a Leather Glove Used in Ancient Boxing Giclee Print

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