Cestus on the Boxer of Quirinal.

A cestus is an ancient battle glove, sometimes used in pankration. They were worn as are today's boxing gloves, but were made with leather strips and sometimes filled with iron plates or fitted with blades or spikes, and used as weapons.



The word "cestus" is Latin, an agent noun derived from verb caedere, meaning "to strike", and as such can be reasonably translated as "striker". Despite the final "-s", "cestus" is a singular noun. The Latin plural is caestūs [1], but in English "cestuses" has been used. [2]

Early Greek Caestus

The first caestūs in Ancient Greece were series of leather thongs tied over the hand for use in boxing-like competitions. The Greeks also invented a variation called the sphairai which were fitted with cutting blades. 

Roman Caestus

Roman variants included the myrmex (or "limb-piercer") and others featuring various iron plates, spikes, or studs. Caestūs were frequently used in Roman gladiatorial bouts, where otherwise unarmed combatants – mostly slaves – fought to the death. Caestūs boxing became increasingly bloody until hand-to-hand fighting was officially banned in 393 AD.  

The Caestus of Boxer of Quirinal

The most famous depiction of the caestus is the Hellenistic sculpture The Boxer of Quirinal. The sitting figure is wearing caestūs on his hands. It is part of the perminent collection of the National Museum of Rome. [3]

See also


  1. ^ Charlton Lewis and Charles Short (1966). A Latin Dictionary. Oxford University Press. 
  2. ^ The Free Dictionary
  3. ^ http://archaeosammlungen.uni-graz.at/index.php?id=73&L=2

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  • Cestus — Ces tus, n. [L. cestus girdle, Gr. ?, lit., stitched, embroidered.] 1. (Antiq.) A girdle; particularly that of Aphrodite (or Venus) which gave the wearer the power of exciting love. [1913 Webster] 2. (Zo[ o]l.) A genus of Ctenophora. The typical… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Cestus — steht für: Cestus (Kleidungsstück), ein antiker Gürtel Cestus (Waffe), ein antiker Schlagring Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demselben Wort bezeichneter Begriffe …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cestus — Ces tus, n. [L. caestus, and cestus.] (Antiq.) A covering for the hands of boxers, made of leather bands, and often loaded with lead or iron. [1913 Webster] || …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • CESTUS — Graecis κεςτὸς, cingulum, quasi κεντητὸς, a κεντέω. Hincque lora, quae pugnis addita, ad munimentum. Pugnis enim primum nudis certabatur, dein addita lora, propterea quod nudi quum fierent, saepe plus damni acciperent, quam facerent. Ea lora… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • cestus — cȅstus m DEFINICIJA pov. olovna pločica ili šiljak, pričvršćen na remenu starorimskih šakača; remen se omotavao oko šaka i podlaktica radi razornijeg udarca; danas: bokser ETIMOLOGIJA lat. cestus ≃ grč. kestós …   Hrvatski jezični portal

  • Cestus — (röm. Ant.), 1) Band, Strick, Riemen; 2) (Caestus), Riemen, womit sich der Faustkämpfer (Cestuskämpfer) die Hand umwand, s.u. Faustkampf; 3) Gürtel, womit Frauen ihr Gewand unter der Brust schürzten; 4) Gürtel, welchen am Hochzeittage die… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Cestus — Cestus, der Gürtel der röm. und griech. Frauen, womit sie ihr Gewand unmittelbar unter der Brust schürzten. – C. in der röm. Zeit die Faustbekleidung der Athleten, ursprünglich nur aus Riemen bestehend, in der Zeit der gewaltsamen Athletik bei… …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • cestus — cestus1 [ses′təs] n. [L < Gr kestos, a girdle; akin to kentein, to stitch: see CENTER] in ancient times, a woman s belt or girdle cestus2 [ses′təs] n. [L caestus < caedere, to strike, cut down: see CIDE] a contrivance of leather straps,… …   English World dictionary

  • cestus — I. noun (plural cesti) Etymology: Latin, girdle, belt, from Greek kestos, from kestos stitched, from kentein to prick more at center Date: 1557 a woman s belt; especially a symbolic one worn by a bride II. noun Etymology: Latin cestus, caes …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • cestus — cestus1 /ses teuhs/, n., pl. cesti / tuy/. 1. a girdle or belt, esp. as worn by women of ancient Greece. 2. Class. Myth. the girdle of Venus, decorated with every object that could arouse amorous desire. Also, esp. Brit., cestos. [1570 80; < L …   Universalium

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