sources deal with essential characteristics of their cultures:

typically, Roman tradition sees continuity, Greek historians stress initiation. The result is schematic, but
I expect, helpful.
The Greek word for naked, or nude, is gymnos, and
shows something fresh in the early world. The word
refers to complete nudity. In Classical times, a guy was
not gymnos if he wore a perizoma. In a military context gymnos meant “unarmed” (II. 16.815, etc.), not
covered by armour, exposed (Thuc. 3.23, 5.10.71; Xen.
Hell. 4.4.12); and “light-armed,” as opposed to the
Heavy armed hoplite. The gymnon stadion (Pind.
Pyth. 11.49) was the race run without armour, in contrast to the hoplitodromos. By far the most common
Use, however, was expressly “exercising in the
nude.”22 The word had become something fresh, just as
the Greeks had made something new of the ancient so-


In Homer’s poems, of around 800 B.C., nakedness
Entails shame, vulnerability, death, and dishonor.
The naked body of the hero must be rescued. Thersites is threatened with being stripped and run nude
through the assembly. Odysseus covers himself with
leaves before Nausicaa.23 The latter case, of
course, may be because of . The
hero is meeting a young, unmarried woman for the
first time, and it would hardly be suitable for him
to appear before her fully naked. Homer presents us, it seems, as so frequently, with the old and the
Fresh, the conventional and the earliest instance of what
is to come.
An essential passage appears to illustrate this kind of coexistence. In the 22nd publication of the Iliad, Priam and Hecuba
in turn effort-in vain-to dissuade Hector from
going to struggle and to certain death. Both appeal to his
Empathy, and reverence, by facing him with the scene of their nakedness. The sight of one’s parents’ nakedness is wonderful.24 Priam paints a picture of his
own departure and abasement. An old man’s death is
Hideous: “When an old man is dead and down, and the
dogs mutilate the gray head and the gray beard and the
Components that are black (albi^), this, for all gloomy mortality is the sight most pitiful” (II. 22.74-76). Immediately
after this, Hecuba exhibits her breast and holds it outside
for Hector, in entreaty (79-81). This pitiable significance refers to the traditional awareness of nakedness.
What’s fresh is what Priam compares with the
grisly, shameful, horrible passing of an old man: the attractiveness
of the nakedness of a young man. “For a young man
all is decorous when he’s cut down in conflict and snapped

with the sharp bronze, and lies there, and though dead
all that reveals about him is beautiful… ” (II.
22.71-73). The graphic is startling at this kind of early
date. It was intelligibly renowned. Echoes of the
passage sounded down the centuries, among them
Tyrtaios’s well-known poem, with its contrast of ugly
and beautiful.
For this is black, for an elderly man fallen in battle
One of the front line fighters to lie before the young
Guys, an older man with his hair white and beard silvery, breathing his virulent life into the dust, his
bloody genitals in his hands and with his skin all naked.
This sight is black for the eyes to beholdand reprehensible. But in contrast among young men all these
things are proper as long as he glows in the bloom of
lovely youth manhood. They are admirablefor men to
see and wonderfully attractivefor girls while he’s
Living-and he seems also honorable and wonderful
fallen in the front line.25
There’s no hint of any difference between Greeks
and barbarians in Homer in terms of language, faith (the Trojans’ sacrifice at the temple of Athena),
dress, or nudity. In the athletic competitions, the
heroes “gird check it to prepare for the wrestling
match. Historical writers presumed this meant that they
wore the perizoma. Recently others have indicated
that they were participated in belt-wrestling, known from
the ancient Near East, where nude male figures wearing thick belts were common in early or protohistoric

cover their genitals. Absolute nudity for guys could signify service to the god, a rite “costume.”
The bare woman, always shown in front view, was
a very common theme that could have different significance at different times. In Near Eastern artwork goddesses
were so signified, primary among them Ishtar
(Astarte), whose strong, naked image was extensively
Spread, and powerful in many areas and spans.28 The most common connotation of female nudity
in historical times appears to have been service rendered
in the temple.29 For men, yet, in the ancient
Near East and elsewhere it was a hint of defeat. As in
the Old Testament, nakedness signifies poverty,
Disgrace, slavery, humiliation.30
Greek prehistory offers fewer examples of complete
nudity. Active younger guys and heroes were symbolized in artwork wearing the perizoma or short pants31
throughout the Aegean and the whole Mediterranean,
in contrast to old men, dressed in long chitons and