I learned something new about gladiators last night – they were apparently rather rotund.
Consuming a lot of simple carbohydrates, such as barley, and legumes, like beans, was designed for survival in the arena. Packing in the carbs also packed on the pounds.
So they’d be easier to see from the cheap seats?
“Gladiators needed subcutaneous fat,” Grossschmidt explains. “A fat cushion protects you from cut wounds and shields nerves and blood vessels in a fight.” Not only would a lean gladiator have been dead meat, he would have made for a bad show. Surface wounds “look more spectacular,” says Grossschmidt. “If I get wounded but just in the fatty layer, I can fight on,” he adds. “It doesn’t hurt much, and it looks great for the spectators.”
Archaeology.org also has a glossary of gladiator terms, including:
Subligaculum: A traditional loincloth worn by gladiators
Not to be confused with “The Santa’s Beard”, my own, holiday-themed, traditional loincloth.