How did ancient Romans and Greeks get so muscular? : AskHistorians
Press J to jump to the feed. Press question mark to learn the rest of the keyboard shortcuts
Log insign up
37

How did ancient Romans and Greeks get so muscular?

37
Posted by5 years ago
Archived

How did ancient Romans and Greeks get so muscular?

In the movies and statues, a lot of Romans and Greeks were depicted as huge hulking dudes of solid muscle, like the Spartans in 300, or the gladiators from the Spartacus tv show. I mean now days to get like that it requires a ton of specifically designed workouts and micro managing your diet. were their daily activities enough to get them like that? or are the statues and depictions highly exaggerated?

6 comments
95% Upvoted
This thread is archived
New comments cannot be posted and votes cannot be cast
Sort by
level 1
13 points · 5 years ago

While I dont know much about what their real bodies were like, I do know a little about Greek and Roman sculptures.

Greek sculptures were traditionally extremely idealised. Sculptors showed their skill by depicting the ideal human form, while the subjects had their image presented as a perfect version of themselves. The person depicted very well have had a body nothing like their sculpture, so they should be taken with a grain of salt.

Romans were generally less fond of idealised sculptures, going for a more "warts and all" approach, but it still occurred. The rather hilariously absurd portrait bust of the emperor Commodus as Hercules showcases this well -though his sculpture has bulging muscles, his actual body probably didn't.

While I can't speak to if Greeks and Romans had the physique in reality, I can say that their sculptures could certainly exaggerate the appearance.

level 2
Original Poster2 points · 5 years ago

thanks. i did a quick read through of Commodus' wikipedia page, and i know that the stuff there isnt super accurate, but it sounds like he had a personal trainer (who later assassinated him) and enjoyed gladiator combat (which im sure was rigged for him to win) so it's possible he had a muscular build. but he also seems like he was very full of himself.

level 1
1 point · 5 years ago

I'm a philosopher, but I think the Platonic dialogues can be seen as largely historically accurate sources. If you read them you get a sense that most 'young' men of the upper classes would be subject to highly intense workout routines. They worked out a lot more than people do today, and in addition to that it seems like almost all of them did so. If you add to that the widespread archaeological and architectural evidence of gymnasia and huge sporting events the Greeks held (Olympic Games and other events like it), it becomes clear that while the statues might idealize their subjects in the sense that they have unblemished skin etc., it is not unfair to consider them realistic in the amount of muscle they show. Compare modern day athletes like swimmers, wrestlers, or male gymnasts and you see similar body types.

More posts from the AskHistorians community
6.2k
Posted by1 day ago

Edit: thank you so much to those who have slid in my DMs to tell me their opinions and recount their own grandparents’ experiences. I know mine was far from alone. I realise now that what i am asking is mostly conjecture so probably won’t be able to get solid answers. I’m happy to receive DMs but I won’t be chatting to anyone sorry. Am skittish.

During German occupation of Poland my grandad (a jew) witnessed his family killed and was taken in and sheltered by a family in his village. One day out in town (aparrently he was stealing) he was ‘rounded up’ and made to work on a ‘farm’ as a pre-teen child (not sure of age). He escaped this situation somehow and walked from a village in Krakow to Naples where he was able to somehow get a boat to the Uk. He was sent to a town in the Midlands to work in a coal mine. He didn’t know his age, he didn’t know how to spell his surname, he taught himself to speak and read english. He lost his ability to speak Polish and never, ever spoke about his experiences. I suppose my question is quite complicated. Does this sound plausible? This is all what was put together by my nan and father over the years. What was the farm? Was it a legitimate farm or something else? His walk to Naples. What countries would he have passed through to make it there most likely? I would like to travel this route myself. How did he know to go to Naples? If you google my (misspelled by my grandad) surname the record of his presence on a ship from Naples is recorded. He really spelled his name wrong and we ended up with a very unique spelling!! Why was he sent to a coal mine? How would he have got there? How long would his journey end to end have taken him? Lots of questions. I hope someone can help. He passed away three years ago now but he was a locked vault even when he was coherent!

6.2k
59 comments
5.9k
Posted by6 days ago

Is this something to be embarrassed about? Would I want to ask her to reconsider? Could it affect my social standing? And what am I personally likely to know about this curious faith and its fish god? Would I be able to find out more if I wanted?

5.9k
99 comments
5.5k
Posted by3 days ago

The question above is intended to exclude the current controversy and is asking about previous US presidents. Thanks in advance for the answers!

5.5k
96 comments
4.7k
Posted by4 days ago
4.7k
140 comments
4.3k
Posted by6 days ago

Nowadays, people get outraged about the deaths of the country's young men in war, like in Vietnam for example, but was it the case in ancient Rome, since it was a pretty expansionist Empire?

Thank you in advance!

4.3k
67 comments
3.6k
Posted by2 days ago

I feel like there hasn't been a shortage of companies that could be considered monopolies since 1984, especially in the tech sector, but US Government has seemed unwilling to prosecute these instances or unable to successfully land the case (the antitrust suit against Microsoft at the turn of the century ended in a settlement).

While trying respect the twenty year rule, in curious to know why the latter Reagan, Bush, and Clinton eras of government seemed to lack any meaningful antitrust actions.

3.6k
37 comments
3.1k
Posted by2 days ago
3.1k
33 comments
Continue browsing in r/AskHistorians
The Portal for Public History Please read the rules before participating, as we remove all comments which break the rules. Answers must be in-depth and comprehensive, or they will be removed.
1.3m

Readers

4.2k

Readers Online


Created Aug 28, 2011