Roman gladiators were some of the strongest and most iconic warriors of the ancient world. Pitted against each other to entertain the Romans in large arena settings, these fighters were trained, battle-hardened killing machines.
Starz' Spartacus: Blood and Sand captures these grueling training sessions and the fierce, beastly nature of these warriors excellently. The show's first season hones in on the Ludus of a Roman elite, Batiatus, as he trains Spartacus and dozens of other potent gladiators. Blood and Sand features a plethora of unique fighters, each with their own distinct physique and fighting style.
So let's enter the arena as we discuss and rank the best of the best; the most powerful gladiators featured in Spartacus: Blood and Sand.
This friendly companion to Spartacus is more than merely a sidekick to play off our hero - he's actually a formidable gladiator.
Once an average Roman citizen, Varro consigned himself to fighting in the arena to clear up his mounting debts. But though he found himself out of his element in a rather unfortunate situation, he managed to become an admirable gladiator. He is one of the few recruits, along with Spartacus, to survive the trials that initiate him with the mark of the brotherhood. This is impressive, given that the immensely skilled fighter, Gnaeus, was his opponent during these trials.
During the Episode appropriately titled "The Thing in the Pit," Spartacus must fight his way through the unpleasant "Pits" back to prominence so he can rejoin his brothers at the Ludus. The biggest obstacle - both in a literal and figurative sense - is Ixion, the spike-knuckled brute brawler. Sure, being champion of the cast-aways that comprise The Pit fighters doesn't hold the same significance as the champion of Capua.
Still, Ixion is the last man standing along with Spartacus as they engage in elimination-style face-offs in The Pits. Not only does he sport an intimidating appearance - wearing the face of defeated foes, he's also got the fighting chops to back it up. With his overpowering nature, and his barbaric, underhanded tactics to do anything possible to win a fight, he's not easy to best, as Spartacus finds out in a gory, bloody showdown.
Rising to prominence amongst a batch of disappointing recruits halfway through Blood and Sand, including his own brother, Duro, this Germanic gladiator proves a great fighter and worthy companion to Spartacus. He acts as a mentor to his younger brother, bailing him out of trouble when fights start to go south for the less-practiced Duro. He's a versatile warrior who wields a sword and shield while also being well-versed in throwing spears at his targets.
In addition to his fighting prowess in the arena, Agron also ends up being one of the most valuable assets to Spartacus' eventual rebellion against Rome, making his mark as a chief Luitanent amongst his army of rebels.
This brutish gladiator and friend of Crixus didn't earn his ominous nickname, "The Beast Of Carthage" for no reason. Sporting a towering, athletic build and wielding a devastating spear, Barca is a truly tough opponent to even gain an advantage on, let alone defeat.
According to legend, as described by Varro, Barca was the last man standing out of a large pool of captured Carthaginian fighters, following Rome's defeat of the rival colony some years earlier. The tale of Barca's ascension is an admirable one - though it's also wrought with tragedy, as he was forced to face his father in the arena when only two Carthaginians remained.
As it so happens, Batiatus doesn't hold a monopoly on all the most powerful gladiators, nor does the city of Capua. Pompei's own Pericles also proves a formidable warrior, as demonstrated by Crixus' struggle in grinding out a close victory against him during the Primus. Let's face it, you don't become the champion of Pompei if you aren't a powerful gladiator.
Though he doesn't have the large, bulky body type to overpower opponents like many on our list, he makes up for this with a lean, muscular physique, finesse, and speed in combat. And despite eventually being defeated by Crixus in a rather gruesome manner, he had a pretty epic run as a champion, and was a thorn in the side of Capua each year during the Primus.
He may have a tall and bulky build, but Gnaeus' fighting style of Retiarius - assigned to him by Doctore early in the series - isn't exactly ideal for its offensive might. His only real weapon is a trident, while the bulk of his attack must rely on tripping and trapping foes with a giant fishing net.
That makes it all the more impressive that this unorthodox fighter has remained on the upper-echelon of Batiatus' Ludus of gladiators despite the shift from Thraex to this more limited fighting style. He manages to make "lemonade out of lemons" by using his net in creatively effective ways, like tossing it at foes from a distance and even setting the net on fire if possible. Simply put, there's a reason Gnaeus is a veteran of Batiatus' crew and a regular participant in the Primus.
Given that the Ludus of Batiatus is home to some of the most powerful gladiators in Capua, and perhaps all of Rome, it would stand to reason that the man who trained them, Oenomaus, makes our list as one of the best.
Taking the title of Doctore for the duration of Blood and Sand, this fierce warrior trains just about everyone from Crixus to Argon to Spartacus himself. We never see him fight in the arena (that's reserved for the prequel season, Gods of the Arena), but we know he's a force to be reckoned with given his massive, muscular build, quickness, and fighting smarts. When training Spartacus and Crixus for the Primus, he makes short work of both at once. Oenomaus also holds the title of being the only single gladiator to fight the undefeated monster that is Theokoles - and lived to tell the tale.
3 Theokoles: The Shadow Of Death
While Crixus may be the undefeated Gaul, Theokoles is the undefeated Greek, and an absolutely hulking beast of one, at that. This gladiator has essentially been elevated to mythical god-like status by the time Spartacus and Crixus face him in the arena for the Primus. This mammoth warrior has not only defeated countless opponents in the arena, he absolutely demolishes them, even toying with them before finishing them off.
Even if an opponent lands a non-lethal hit on him, he can seemingly just absorb it and continue to fight at near full strength. It takes both of Batiatus' best gladiators to best him, and they still just barely do so, after Crixus improvises by temporarily blinding him. He's so powerful, Spartacus even earns the nickname, "Slayer of Theokoles" after defeating him.
Considering his very nickname boasts of his "undefeated" history as a gladiator, it seems fitting to place the counterpart to Spartacus, the legendary Crixus, near the top of the list in terms of skill and power. Crixus is Spartacus' first major obstacle when the Thracian joins the ranks of Batiatus' Ludus, and remains a worthy adversary to him even as Spartacus hones his skills.
The Undefeated Gaul is probably the one gladiator in Blood and Sand - and in the series as a whole - who can truly go toe-to-toe with the show's main protagonist. The bulky, swift, and powerful Gaul stood as the uncontested champion of Capua for some quite sometime before Spartacus eventually earns the hard-fought title for himself.
It would stand to reason that the star of the Starz show, the ex-Roman soldier, gladiator icon, and rebel from which the show is named after makes our list as the strongest gladiator. He certainly proves his skills in combat by besting endless hordes of Getae, and later, several fully-armored Roman soldiers.
But he also proves to be a beast in the arena, with his diverse array of skills with a sword and shield, his speed, and his ability to adapt. He leads an assault on the Getae tribes, fights his way up the ranks to be the champion of Capua, and eventually leads a rebellion against one of the greatest Empires the world has seen. It's tough to find a gladiator with a more legendary resume than that!