The Weird Thing Done With Gladiator Sweat In The Roman Empire

In the ancient times, Roman gladiators served as fighters that provided entertainment to the civilians of Rome. Gladiators would fight each other, or in some cases wild animals, in front of jeering crowds. Often, gladiators were prisoners who had the physical strength, but in the later years, they mainly consisted of volunteers who wanted to show their fighting skills in front of spectators, per UNRV Roman History. There are many interesting facts to learn about Roman gladiators, but one of them stands out as being unusual.

Slaves who became gladiators were frowned upon by society. However, some became popular due to their skills and were treated like sports stars. Today, hardcore fans of musicians or movie stars would pay premium dollars for a strand of hair from their idols. Back then, the same was done with famous gladiators' sweat. According to Ripley's, dirt and sweat gathered from the skin of great gladiators would be collected and put into vials. These vials would then be sold outside arenas, and wealthy women were the typical patrons. The gladiator sweat, however, wasn't merely purchased as a collector's item.

The purpose of gladiator sweat

Ancient Romans had a strong belief that gladiator sweat was an effective aphrodisiac. Before the gladiators cleaned themselves after a fight, a tool called a strigil was used to scrape off sweat from their bodies. Their belief was that the more successful a gladiator was in the arena, the more potent their fluids were to use as an aphrodisiac, per History Collection. Women would also purchase vials of sweat and use it as facial cream to improve their complexion. Often, the grime and sweat was mixed with olive oil to achieve a better consistency and mixed into cosmetics.

Aside from sweat, gladiator blood was also a popular commodity sold as an aphrodisiac. Per Medium, it was common for brides to part their hair with an iron spearhead that had killed a gladiator to bring luck to a marriage. In some instances, the blood was directly ingested or mixed with wine before drinking.