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The Muscularity of Ancient People....


GRardB
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So I was trying to figure out...what did the ancient Greeks, Romans, etc. (not just Europeans) look like? We've all seen what the dudes from "300" looked like. I'm sure some of you have seen the movie "Troy." There was also "Gladiator," and "Braveheart." 300 seems to be the most outrageous, and Braveheart the least so (really, Mel Gibson was the only one with any kind of decent physique). Speaking of Mel Gibson, "Apacolypto" didn't have such muscular men.

 

I know that I cannot come to any conclusions based on Hollywood depictions of people that lived hundreds of years ago. However, I think another thing to consider is how THOSE people depicted themselves.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heracles

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Helmed_Hoplite_Sparta.JPG

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Hoplite_grave_relief.jpg

 

Now I know that Heracles isn't a real person obviously, but in order for them to depict him being so muscular, wouldn't they have had to know what a very muscular person would look like? They would have to know all the muscles and how they looked on a person with low body fat. Also, the other two images show men with some kind of chest/ab development, so they must've had something, right?

 

So my question is: What do you think the ancient people actually looked like? Compare them to a modern-day person if you can. Do you think that muscular men were very rare, but that they existed and helped ancient artists create such statues, or were they common and necessary for every day life?

 

Gerard

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Speaking of Mel Gibson, "Apacolypto" didn't have such muscular men.
I found they were pretty muscular, at least some of them were. But this movie is not so realistic; the Mayans and Aztecs were very small men in the reality (I think), and at one point in the movie, I heard we see some corn on the cobbs as big as modern ones, but at this era they were tiny, like 5-10 cm long.

 

I haven't checked your links yet. But I guess for most people of those times, the esthetics were less important than the useful and practical aspects of muscles, except for some cultures and nations, where the anatomic beauty was important, maybe to impress girls. But bodybuilding as a sport is pretty new to civilisation. If some people wanted to gain mass, I guess there were many ways : like lifting huge stones. And just working was a good work-out, like building the Egyptian pyramids; I heard the slaves were well treated and nourrished for such hard work. But for the Mayan temples, the slaves seemed to be undernourrished judging by Mel Gibson's movie.

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One thing to also consider is that we get our notion of heroic proportions from these. And these proportions are apparently larger than reality. The modern incarnation would be Superheroes. There was alot of physical movement during these times and if you were a builder while also not being a slave chances are that you gained a substantial amount of muscle. Now it is not hard to abstract from this and create images of people or beings of larger muscular proportion.

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Another thing to add is depictions of people, be they carvings, statutes or paintings are often exaggerated, or fabricated

Greek and Roman artists used multiple models to create one work.

So he would have an ab model, a legs model etc and he would then add them all together to create the ideal statue.

If they were depicting a Hero, he needed to be a muscular, attractive young person to help build the legend.

Not a battle scarred old guy, who was a hero because he had been fighting for 20 years.

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Great topic.... I always wondered that...my assumption is that people then were really into anatomy ... the best way to look at anything that time would be through painting more than sculptures.

 

this would be more realistic

 

Roman Drawing  --

 

 

also see the other photos that are part of the painting folder on the flickr user

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Great topic.... I always wondered that...my assumption is that people then were really into anatomy ... the best way to look at anything that time would be through painting more than sculptures.

 

this would be more realistic

 

Roman Drawing  --

 

 

also see the other photos that are part of the painting folder on the flickr user

 

Nice paintings. How old are they though? I was thinking of paintings too but it seems like most that I could fine were done way after these civilizations were gone.

 

BTW, this guy is what I like to call "brolic as hell."

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So my question is: What do you think the ancient people actually looked like? Compare them to a modern-day person if you can. Do you think that muscular men were very rare, but that they existed and helped ancient artists create such statues, or were they common and necessary for every day life?

I don't believe most ancient peoples looked like the statues and paintings unless they were athletes, soldiers, etc. Personally I believe that, like today, only what was considered beautiful was used for statues and paintings. I'm guessing that most ancient people were leaner and maybe had a wirier build than today's people - unless they ate well and had to lift heavy objects.

 

Imo statues would probably not be a common physique of many ancient peoples (just like there aren't many modern people that look like most models, athletes and actors.

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Historian explain vegetarianism in most of the ancient peoples diet.

I thought that this was tought at all the schools, but you're right. Meat wasn't something that was so available for people to eat it frequently. It didn't stay fresh and people weren't that wealthy to eat meat every day. They mostly ate porridge-type of meals as the base of their diet. At least this was the case in Mediterranean parts of Europe.

 

I'm sure, that the most muscular men in Ancient times were the slaves, soldiers and athletes. Slaves did all of the physical work in everyday life (and they were often treated very well, especially the slaves of the poor, who only had affort to get themselves one or two slaves). As slaves were the ones responsible of such heavy work as working in the fields, forests, etc.

 

There were also laborer, who might have the physical activity level high enough to have that kind of a figure themselves. And then there's soldiers, who must have had the strenght and mass to be victorious and to survive in hard conditions like the battlefield was. You couldn't carry a Roman sword without any strenght in your arms and the rest of your body. Not to talk about being able to slay any enemies infront of you with it.

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HCPinGviini

 

thanks for posting on my post on the video clip. Yeah meat was not a common thing amongst the average according to history. Meat was something people who had money or on religious occasion could afford.

 

It was quite an interesting lecture.

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I'm liking the responses so far. I mentioned this post to my dad, and he thinks that in order for them to have made such art, there would definitely have to be some very muscular men, although obviously not every soldier or person for that matter looked like the Heracles statue I posted a link to.

 

What he said was "I think that ancient people...learned how to get stronger! I'd be very surprised if they didn't know about weight lifting and all that. You should look up the history of weight lifting."

 

So I did just that, and check it out:

 

The history of strength training started with the ancient Greeks. Hippocrates eloquently explained the principle behind weight training when he wrote "that which is used develops, and that which is not used wastes away." Progressive resistance training dates back to at least the 6th century BC, when legend has it that wrestler Milo of Croton trained by carrying a newborn calf on his back every day until the calf was fully grown. Another Greek, the physician Galen, described strength training exercises using the halteres (an early form of dumbbell) in the 2nd century AD.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_strength_training

 

So according to Wikipedia, people were lifting weights in 600BC. I wouldn't doubt that they were lifting before that though.

 

Of course, this isn't a 100% guaranteed conclusion, but it's something to think about.

 

Gerard

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Ive always thought it was a common part of the day for a Roman Gentleman to use the gymnasium at the bath houses. I imagine that Gladiators and legionaries would of been required to have a very demanding physical fitness regime. So the sort of physique we see on statues would certainly of been owned back then.

Then of course before then the greeks had the olympic games, where it brought great pride to your city to win an event. So I think these athletes would certainly of been pampered and had all their training/dietary needs met. Resulting in great physiques.

 

OT a bit, I saw a programme on BBC2 I think where Gladiators bones were examined, they were shown to have bones high in some sort of compound that proved they didnt eat meat (or only rarely), some texts seemed to support this, they thought vege diets improved healing or something, but was long time ago I watched this so cant rly remember

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Meat and special kinds of meats are still considered a delicacy in lots of cultures. Of course, these cultures now have MORE access to it and can afford it more than before.. due to Change of Meat Acquisition, Storage & Distribution logistics.

 

Which means it was not a daily food item... Until I guess the Wild West came along where Cowboys only had cows to eat in the American desert landscape.

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Ive always thought it was a common part of the day for a Roman Gentleman to use the gymnasium at the bath houses. I imagine that Gladiators and legionaries would of been required to have a very demanding physical fitness regime. So the sort of physique we see on statues would certainly of been owned back then.

Then of course before then the greeks had the olympic games, where it brought great pride to your city to win an event. So I think these athletes would certainly of been pampered and had all their training/dietary needs met. Resulting in great physiques.

 

OT a bit, I saw a programme on BBC2 I think where Gladiators bones were examined, they were shown to have bones high in some sort of compound that proved they didnt eat meat (or only rarely), some texts seemed to support this, they thought vege diets improved healing or something, but was long time ago I watched this so cant rly remember

 

Good point about the Olympics. I forgot about that haha.

 

Also, I checked out the vegetarian gladiators thing. I'm gonna use that info against any veggie-haters from now on. The stupid thing is that the scientists say that they were probably fat because of their diet. Barley, beans and fruits make athletes/warriors fat? I think they need to pay a visit to VeganBodybuilding.com lmao.

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