While it’s obviously no secret that men have been fighting for the entertainment of others for thousands of years, it’s always pretty interesting to see the differences between the pugilists of yesteryear and our trained fighters of today. For instance, while today’s UFC stars are busy worrying about contracts and bonuses, I’m sure the fighters of Ancient Rome were more likely concerned with other trivial things like waking up tomorrow and not being slaves. Basically, it’s tomato and tomahto.
One thing that seems to be a constant for fighters throughout time, though, seems to be the treatment of cauliflower ear, as Manhattan’s Dr. Jeffrey Levine has discovered evidence of cauliflower ear treatment on the Ancient Roman statue, “Boxer at Rest.”
At first glance, the ears look simply swollen and bleeding with what is commonly described as “cauliflower ear.” But if you look more closely there is evidence of freshly performed surgical treatment of hematomas sustained in the pugilist’s match. In Hippocrates’ work entitled “On Injuries of the Head,” he specifically prescribes incisions for healing:
“Incisions may be practiced with impunity on other parts of the head, with the exception of the temple and the parts above it, where there is a vein that runs across the temple, in which region an incision is not to be made.”
Other treatments of the day would include washing the incision with wine and stopping the bleeding with juice from a fig tree.