from a sense of shame; 4) for aesthetic reasons, as ornamentation, pleasure, beauty, and to entice the reverse

sex; 5) for apotropaic motives, to turn away the effects
of magic, sorcery, the evil eye, and hostile spirits. We
shall see that one or more of these considerations can
Additionally clarify what nudity once meant for the Greeks-and how it changed.2
Though it will not function as a protection against the
weather (1), nakedness, like clothes or armor, was
used to recognize social groups (2), in life and in artwork.
Garments, actually, distinguishes human society, civilized
people, from creatures and wild beasts, which are
Nude. Humans wear clothes, animals don’t. In a
clothed society, however, nakedness is unique, and can
be used as a “costume.” As it developed, Greek nudity
came to indicate a comparison between Greek and , as well as between men and women. The latter
distinction is connected with the most fundamental connotation of nakedness, the sense of shame, vulnerability and
exposure it arouses in person (3), and the related sense
of shock provoked by its sight. Clothes is made to
avoid such strong emotions by covering the body, particularly the male genitals, the phallus, and female genitals and breast. A “body taboo” against nakedness in
People is fairly universal.3 There initially existed in

Classical antiquity, as elsewhere, a garment designed
to hide the wearer’s sex organ, a loin cloth, perizoma or
diazoma, as the Greeks usually called it. The attractiveness of
the naked body (4) has often been exalted. Its sensual and
aesthetic attractiveness, as Kenneth Clark has shown, has
caused a different word to be used: this facet of nakedness is known as “nudity.”4
In the early Near East Ishtar,5 and in the West
Aphrodite,’ the goddesses of love, were traditionally
naked. The attractiveness and strength of the naked man
body were also praised, and heroes, such as the Master of Animals, were signified naked, or wearing
Just a belt.7 It was the Greeks who brought into our
culture the ideal of male nudity as the highest kind of
Attractiveness. Greek art and athletics exalted the attractiveness of
the youthful male sportsman, whose body provided the
model for the hero or youthful god. The image of the
Naked young male, the kouros statue of early Greek art
(Comparing with the clothed female, the kore), embodied the arete or magnificence of an aristocratic youth, who
was kaloskagathos, “beautiful and noble.”8
Because of the strong emotions of shame, shock,
lust, admiration, violation, commiseration, and disgust aroused
by the sight of the naked human body, the most frequent associations are with taboo, magic, and ritual
(5). When the sexual organ was uncovered, its power
was unleashed. Apotropaic and magic nudity, calling for the exposure of male genitals and female
breasts, and the exhibition of the enlarged male phallus have been used from early times, and testify to the
enduring force of this elaborate image. As a taboo, it
can protect against the evil eye. Like the Gorgon’s
gaze, it can paralyze or . The partial nudity or
exposure of a woman’s breast or genitals, for example,
can signify weakness and powerlessness; but it can
Additionally function as strong magic.9 In art and in life,

belief in such magic powers is well attested in many
cultures throughout history, and has endured into our
own times. Phallic or “priapic” figurines and amulets,
as well as obscene gestures, still serve as protection
against the evil eye in many parts of the world. When
Attire is normal, exhibitionist acts of nakedness commonly
have mom beach sex . In the world of magic, nudity
wards off a fascination or other harmful type of magic, compels love, and gives strength to one’s own practice of
witchcraft and conjuring.”1 Since, then, in a clothed
society nudity was exceptional, atrocious, dangerous, and
powerful,”1 entire nakedness was avoided in everyday life. It was saved for special scenarios or unique
Rite ceremonies.
Language, also, preserved traces of this magic power
of nakedness. , like the fact, had to be
avoided, so that its magic power could be preserved. A
linguistic taboo consequently caused the sort of the word for
“Nude” to transform, in all the Indoeuropean languages.
Though gymnos, nudus, nackt, etc. were all originally
related to each other-so linguists assure us-they
were all transformed in varied and surprising ways,
so that their first likeness is almost unrecognizable.12 For most parts of the body, there’s what
Devoto called a “compact” vocabulary:13 the words for
“heart,” “eye,” “foot,” “knee,” “nose,” “tooth,” “eyebrow” are fundamentally the same in all the Indoeuropean

languages. Differences can be accounted for, even clarified, by linguistic “rules.” But words for “naked,”
as well as the names of certain parts of the bodyfinger, tongue, hand, and hair-are different in the
Distinct languages. How can this be clarified? Indoeuropeans obviously had fingers, tongues, hands, hair,
and nakedness; and they must have had names for