English: Greek Xiphos Italiano: Spada oplitica tipo xiphos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
300px Gladius (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Gladius was somewhat short, with a small handguard, and a straight blade, made of steel. The blade was angled down into the point very steeply, which enabled for an easy stab. Because it was so light and short, it was easy to move around quickly in a small space, stabbing where needed and easy to pull out of the sheath after throwing the pila. It was reliable and there was no chance of the sword breaking if the legionary used it as he was trained to do, though the edge was fairly soft, and could dull quickly. The gladius was the legionary’s primary weapon.
The Xiphos was a little longer, with a leaf-shaped blade designed so the bulk of the wheight was to the front of the blade, enabling a heavy, powerful slash. It was made of bronze, as that was the best metal the Greeks had access to at that time, though compared to iron, it was pretty brittle. Because of this, it was possible that the sword could break in an especially powerful blow, as the Greeks wielded their weapons with tremendous strength. Though it was brittle, that also meant that the edge was very hard and was nearly impossible to dull, meaning it could be used quite extensively. The Xiphos was the Hoplite’s secondary weapon, after his spear.
Now, which of these two weapons are superior? Which one would you choose as your weapon, given the choice?