Hello everyone! May is a really hard month, because students start to have exams at university. Anyway I’m trying to keep the pace and write articles as much as possible.
Medically speaking, the ancient Romans were simultaneously well ahead of their time and utterly insane. Here’s one of the more insane examples: it was believed that the blood of a gladiator could cure epilepsy. It got so out of hand that after a gladiator was killed and his body removed from the arena, vendors would sell the still-warm blood to the crowd.
Pliny the Elder wrote in his Encyclopedia: “Epileptic patients are in the habit of drinking the blood even of gladiators, draughts teeming with life, as it were; a thing that, when we see it done by the wild beasts even, upon the same arena, inspires us with horror at the spectacle! And yet these persons, forsooth, consider it a most effectual cure for their disease, to quaff the warm, breathing, blood from man himself, and, as they apply their mouth to the wound, to draw forth his very life; and this, though it is regarded as an act of impiety to apply the human lips to the wound even of a wild beast! Others there are, again, who make the marrow of the leg-bones, and the brains of infants, the objects of their research!”
Celsus added “Some have freed themselves from such a disease by drinking the hot blood from the cut throat of a gladiator: a miserable aid made tolerable by a malady still most miserable…”
And for some reason, the fact that it came from a gladiator wasn’t even the most important thing. Around A.D. 400, gladiatorial combat was outlawed, so people began turning to the blood of executed criminals for their cure.
But why did Romans used to drink gladiators’ blood? Perhaps they linked gladiators with power, vigor and strength. As a consequence, it would have been easy for Ancient Romans to believe that gladiators’ blood could heal diseases like epilepsy.