Are Rosemary Sutcliff books ‘sword and sandals’ stories? The term ‘sword and sandal’, and variations, is now much in evidence with The Eagle of the Ninth film, and Centurion called ‘sword and sandals’ films: thus today in the Guardian newspaper about both films (‘sword and sandals’), and in The Irish Times about Centurion (‘swords and sandals’). Interestingly Wikipedia suggests that:
… more specifically … the ‘sword and sandal’ film genre (or ‘peplum’) generally refers to a low-budget Italian movie on a gladiatorial, Biblical or mythological subject, often with a professional bodybuilder in the principal role, in much the same way as the term ‘spaghetti Western‘ refers only to Italian westerns filmed in Europe and which were later dubbed in English.
Alternatively, a specialist TV site claims a ‘sword and sandal’ is:
… a particular kind of period piece set in ancient biblical or mythological times, running the gamut from low fantasy to historical fiction, though some also count movies set in the early Roman empire as well … based on the genre sword and sorcery, which the name is based on.