Why Would The Ancient Rome Drink Blood

What would make ancient Rome have a craving for a drop of blood from time to time? The answer to that can be found in the history, culture and science of the time. It is both fascinating and perplexing why the people of this period would go to such lengths to consume the life-giving liquid.
Blood was widely available and abundant in ancient Rome. Human and animal sacrifice were common sources of this liquid. But this was by no means the only way of harvesting liquid from living sources. Ancient Roman medical practice known as ‘venesection’ involved the withdrawing of small amounts of blood from the body for medicinal use.
This practice had its basis in the ancient Greek concept of ‘humors’ which were believed to control bodily functions and according to Hippocrates, vene-section was a way to restore balance in the body.This practice was popular in ancient Rome, typically used as a means of reducing fever, excess blood or other bodily fluids, as a basis for bloodletting. The process could involve other methods such as cutting of the veins, cupping and leeching.
Today, advances in medical practice and technology mean it is no longer necessary to resort to archaic methods of bloodletting. However, the legacy of this practice still remains and is found in many parts of the world today.
The consumption of animal and human blood for medicinal purposes has been documented in the ancient world and is still practiced in some parts of the world today.Ancient Romans believed that consuming the life-giving liquid could restore health and vitality.
There is evidence that some tribes living in the area of modern day Romania and Bulgaria performed human sacrifice as part of their religious rituals. They would consume the victims’ blood as part of the offering.
Ancient Romans also saw the drinking of animal blood as a way to bring strength, health, and longevity. They believed that drinking the blood of a sacrificed animal could bring divine favor.
The consumption of blood was also associated with fertility and some communities used raw animal blood to bless the land.
Motivations for drinking the blood of the slain were usually spiritual or medicinal. In some cases, it was simply done as an act of devotion or as an expression of gratitude.
Gallic tribes living in the area of modern-day France and Belgium also practiced a form of ritual dismemberment which required drinking the blood of a sacrificed animal. The ritual was thought to bring the tribe great power and was believed to help repel enemies in times of war.

Health Benefits

The practice of drinking blood as a means of restoring health has been known since the dawn of humanity. Recent studies show that drinking animal blood could actually provide nutritional benefits and might even be beneficial in reducing the symptoms of chronic diseases.
The blood of birds, particularly chicks, is high in vitamins and minerals, particularly iron. Iron is a critical mineral for sustaining the health of the human body and could help restore the body when it is lacking in iron. The blood of mammals, such as cows and sheep, is also a source of high-quality protein.
One study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, showed that drinking the blood of a sacrificed animal could have health benefits. They found that animal blood is rich in amino acids, essential fatty acids, some minerals, vitamin B12, and iron. The amounts and types of these nutrients vary depending on the type of animal and its diet.

Cultural Benefits

For ancient Romans, the drinking of animal or human blood was a spiritual and cultural practice. This practice was a way of connecting with a higher power in order to restore balance in the world and ensure the well-being of the community.
The practice of drinking blood has been an integral part of tribal culture in many parts of the world for centuries. It helps to strengthen the ties of the community and legitimizes the tribe in the eyes of their gods.
The ritual of sacrifice and drinking of blood was often celebrated during important festivals and religious ceremonies. This practice was believed to bring good fortune and ensure that the season’s crops would be successful. It was also an important way of honoring the gods, who were believed to watch over the community.

Risks Involved

Although drinking animal or human blood may have spiritual, cultural, and even health benefits, it is important to remember that there are risks associated with this practice. Drinking unprocessed blood can transmit certain potentially serious infections, such as hepatitis or HIV.
In addition, the drinking of human or animal blood can be viewed as reprehensible by some people and those cultures that still practice this ritual are often misunderstood and discriminated against.


Understanding the motivations and contexts behind why ancient Romans drank blood can help us to appreciate the culture of the time. The practice was part of spiritual, cultural and medicinal practices that were believed to restore health and bring luck.
Despite the potential health benefits of drinking animal or human blood, it is important to remember that there are risks involved. It is essential to be aware of the laws and regulations associated with this practice in order to ensure that it is carried out safely.

Moshe Rideout is a professional writer and historian whose work focuses on the history of Ancient Rome. Moshe is passionate about understanding the complexity of the Roman Empire, from its architecture to its literature, political systems to social structures. He has a Bachelor's degree in classic studies from Rutgers University and is currently pursuing a PhD in classical archaeology at UMass Amherst. When he isn't researching or writing, he enjoys exploring ruins around Europe, drawing inspiration from his travels.

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