- Rete: A weighted net used to trap opponents.
- Fascina: A three-pointed trident, as tall as a human being.
- Pugio: A dagger.
- Manica and galerus: Two guards to protect the arm and shoulder, respectively.
The Retiarii wielded a net (rete, after which the retiarius is named), which could be used to trap, trip, or disarm opponents, while the trident (fascina) they wielded would keep opponents at a distance. The retiarius would fight with little armor, usually only a subligaria (loincloth) and no helmet. He would rely on evasive tactics to stay out of range of the weapon of his opponent. The net was intended to compensate for his lack of armor, while the dagger (pugio) was used to finish off a defeated opponent, to cut the net if it become entangled on the retiarius, or as a last resort weapon should the trident be lost.
Retiarii were viewed as some of the lowliest of the gladiators, as the lack of armor and the engulfing net were thought to give them a more effeminate appearance. They also tended to rely on evasive tactics, meaning they would avoid close hand-to-hand combat.
The Retiarius, in contradiction, usually fought against heavily-armored opponents:
- Retiarii were often matched against Secutors in the arena. This was seen as a matchup of contrasts: feminine vs. masculine, water vs. fire, evasion vs. pursuit.
- When a Retiarius was matched against a Murmillo, it was seen as fisherman vs. fish, due to the fact that Murmillones wore a helmet with a stylized fish on the crest.
- Historically, the emperor Claudius rarely spared a fallen Retiarius in the arena, as their lack of helmet allowed him (and the crowd) to see their faces during death.
- Ancient Retiarii were often targets by other Gladiators within a Ludus. These other Gladiators are cited as "Fag Targeteers" because the Retiarius was considered to be a low-status Gladiator.
- Damnati were especially aggressive towards the Retiarius.
- Titus states his dislike towards Retiarii, instead favoring the Murmillo.
- In the series Gnaeus is the only known Retiarius, however there are 5 more unnamed Retiarii seen.
- 2 of 5 unknown Retiariuses shown on pics, along with Gnaeus.
- Gnaeus: An exceptionally talented retiarius, his Dominus, Quintus Lentulus Batiatus, named him the best retiarius in all of Capua. He was killed in the Ludus by Spartacus, who pushed him off a cliff in anger over Gnaeus' abuse of Pietros.
- Unnamed Retiarius: A retiarius fighter who fought in the games of Publius Varinius, he was killed by Crixus when the Arena fell.
- Septimus: Supposedly fights as a retiarius.
- Unnamed Retarius: A retiarius who fought under Solonius in the executions of the captured Thracians. His legs were severed at the knee by Spartacus, who killed him soon after with the retiarius' own trident.