A cestus is an ancient battle glove. In effect, it is the Classic world's equivalent to brass knuckles, sometimes used in pankration.
The first version of a cestus was a series of leather thongs that were tied over the hand. Greeks used them in their hand-to-hand competitions, where only knock out mattered.
In Roman Latin, cestus referred to leather that was wrapped or bound over anything, including items like belts. Romans modified the leather thongs by adding metal parts, including studs and iron plates. Some of them had fixed spikes over the knuckles.
More dangerous versions of the same weapon included the myrmex or "limb-piercer", and the originally Greek sphairai, thin leather thongs with cutting blades.
Cesti were usually used in gladiator bouts where otherwise unarmed combatants - usually slaves - fought to the death. This form of boxing became increasingly bloody until the cestus was officially banned in the 1st century BC. Hand-to-hand fighting was banned in 393 AD.
The Boxer of Quirinal in Rome is the most famous statue in bronze. The sitting statue has the cesti on its hands.
A cestus (plural cesti) is a belt or girdle worn by women in ancient Greece.