The Museum has gotten some helmet reproductions for people (they were thinking about children but adults aren't letting the kids have all the fun) to try on and have their photos taken. Apparently they are very heavy and a little uncomfortable, so the question is literally top of mind.
I didn't know the answer, so I immediately started looking into it. Reenactors were arguing that they did, and some based their theory on what they see as an undergarment on friezes and mosaics. The picture below is of one they suggest supports the theory. I'm not completely won over, but I do concede that padding would be safer and more comfortable, but where's the irrefutable evidence?
|Detail of a mosaic depicting gladiators being separated by a referee, late-3rd century AD, House of the Gladiators, Kourion, Cyprus https://www.flickr.com/photos/carolemage/|
But what were the good looks and youthfulness that enthralled Eppia and set her on fire? What did she see in him to make her put up with being called a gladiator's groupie? After all, her darling Sergius had already started shaving his throats and with his gashed arm had hopes of retirement. Besides, his face was really disfigured: there was a furrow chafed by his helmet, an enormous lump right on his nose, and the nasty condition of a constantly weeping eye. But he was a gladiator. That's what makes them into Hyacinthuses.
Lines 103-110 Braund translation (Loeb Classical Library)Never had I paid any attention to the description of what the helmet had done the the fictional Sergius' head. I'd noted his injuries, his medical condition, the idea that he might soon retire, and that it was only through his role as gladiator that he had any physical appeal, but that chafed furrow from his helmet had never caught my imagination, until my brother passed on that question he was asked.
Yes, I'm looking forward to going and seeing the exhibition, and you bet I'm going to have my photo taken in one of those helmets, but I am looking forward to the questions posed by the public that my brother will bring home to me far, far more. Those questions will be posed by people with few (if any) preconceptions about what is known or understood, with the exception of movies, and as a result their questions draw the mind to reconsider what we assume, and that is why exhibitions like this make our research better and stronger.