The Dimachaerus (plural: dimachaeri) was a type of Roman gladiator who wielded dual swords. This Latin name derives from the Greek word διμάχαιρος, meaning "bearing two knives" (di- dual + machairi- knife).
The dimachaerus is lightly armed and equipped with:
- Two matching swords, both either a gladius (Roman short sword), acinaces (curved short sword) or sica.
- Leather leg wrappings.
- galea with visor.
The fighting style of the dimachaeri gladiator involved close combat using two swords, either curved scimitars (siccae) or straight bladed short swords (gladius). Both swords were employed for attacking and defending and it is generally understood that these gladiators would have been supremely skilled to wield two blades at once. Little else is known about this class of gladiator. It is likely that the dimachaeri gladiators would have been matched against other dimachaeri as well as heavily armored opponents to make a good match. They are known to have been paired against hoplomachus (a shielded opponent in the style of a Greek hoplite soldier) as well as oplomachus (according to Justin Lipsius this was one of two designations of Samnite gladiator who fought matches with a short sword, rectangular shield, armored greaves and helmet). Clearly, the dimachaeri was paired as a lighter fighter against more heavily armored opponents and was expected to penetrate their defense to beat and kill them.
Gladiators of this style came in several shapes and sizes. Men who were large enough to overpower their opponents and men who were fast enough to outlast their opponents. Dimachaeri is a special class that highly skilled Gladiators can fight under after years of training. This specific class is only reserved for men who are Primus worthy and are rare to find in Ancient Rome.
- Interestingly, many of the most skilled gladiators in the series fight in the Dimachaeri style.
- It is claimed on one of the Blu-ray commentaries that Spartacus was switched gladiator styles from Thraex to Dimachaerus in the show primarily because he would no longer need to wear a helmet when fighting in the arena, thus allowing them to show their star's face in the arena.
- Spartacus switched styles from Thraex to Dimacherus after defeating Theokoles, who was also a Dimacherus.
- Notably, Gannicus fights with two straight-bladed Roman gladius swords as a Dimacherus, while Spartacus fights using two Greek/Persian acinaces curved swords. Spartacus seems also to use Sicae as a Dimachaerus, one with a point up and one with a point down.