(This partly was inspired by watching a documentary on sex in ancient Rome.)
In ancient Rome, gladiators, although slaves destined to eventually die in the arena, were also celebrated as heroes. Women, in particular, were fascinated by the combination of valour and tragedy they embodied. Their owners capitalized on this fame: ordinary women would pay for samples of gladiators’ sweat, which was thought to have aphrodisiac properties; while wealthy women would sometimes even hire the gladiators themselves from their masters as gigolos.
I can see it now- Pompus the gladiator manager talking to one of his fighters:
Pompus: Hey slave – good news – your fight with Gladius Maximus has been postponed to tomorrow. That means one more day for you to live. He’s killed the last 27 men he’s faced – many of them with his first blow.
Slave: Why the delay?
Pompus: I couldn’t pass up the deals – these Roman wives will pay top denarius to spend the last day or night with a guy who’s probably going to die.
Pompus: Yeah, really. So anyway, you’re spending today with Octavia. She’s 50 but she keeps in shape. I hear she likes it a little rough. She also likes to see it coming, so she only wants you till sunset. Then you’re spending the night with Aurelia. Not much of a looker, but hey, it’ll be dark, right? Plus I really jacked up the price, so she said she may have one or two girlfriends over to share the cost.
Slave: Ah, geez boss, can’t I fight Gladius today?