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Spathion

spathion, Byzantine sword

A straight, double-edged sword was the ubiquitous side-arm for Roman soldiers, just as much as any other in the West. The medieval Greek term is spathion (σπάθιον), from a Celtic language via Latin. Through the last twenty years, various surviving examples have been accepted as representative of middle Byzantine spathia, by comparison to pictorial sources, although art shows a wider variety of hilt styles and several different blade cross-sections. The example depicted above is that of a senior military officer (who was often of the court rank of Prôtospatharios), with its gilded, relief decorated fittings.

spathion, Byzantine sword hilt

The standard method of carrying a spathion for all types of troops was from a shoulder strap, while more lightly armoured infantry could have a spathion zôstikion (~ ζωστίκιον), that is hung from a belt. See the infantryman reconstructed in the Roman armour category. Zôstikia were also used as parade weapons just like the standard form.