sources deal with central features of their cultures:

Commonly, Roman tradition views continuity, Greek historians stress initiation. The result is schematic, but
I expect, helpful.
The Greek word for naked, or nude, is gymnos, and
Reveals something awesome in the ancient 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 armor, 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 awesome of the early so-


In Homer’s poems, of around 800 B.C., nakedness
Entails shame, vulnerability, death, and dishonor.
The nude body of the hero must be saved. Thersites is threatened with being stripped and run naked
through the assembly. Odysseus covers himself with
leaves before Nausicaa.23 The latter instance, of
course, may be due to the special conditions. The
hero is meeting a young, unmarried girl for the
first time, and it would scarcely be proper for him
to appear before her totally nude. Homer presents us, it seems, as so often, with the old and the
new, the conventional and the earliest case of what
is to come.
A crucial passage appears to exemplify this type of coexistence. In the 22nd book of the Iliad, Priam and Hecuba
in turn effort-in vain-to dissuade Hector from
going to battle and to certain death. Both allure to his
Empathy, and admiration, by facing him with the scene of their nakedness. The sight of one’s parents’ nakedness is amazing.24 Priam paints a picture of his
own death and abasement. An old man’s death is
Hideous: “When an old man is dead and down, and the
dogs mutilate the grey head and the grey beard and the
parts that are shameful (albi^), this, for all sad mortality is the sight most pitiful” (II. 22.74-76). Instantaneously
after this, Hecuba shows her breast and holds it outside
for Hector, in entreaty (79-81). This pitiable importance refers to the traditional sense of nakedness.
What’s fresh is what Priam compares with the
grisly, black, horrible departure of an old man: the attractiveness
of the nakedness of a young man. “For a young man
all is decorous when he is cut down in conflict and torn

with the sharp bronze, and lies there, and though dead
all that reveals about him is beautiful… ” (II.
22.71-73). The picture is startling at such an early
date. It was understandably famous. Echoes of the
passage sounded down the centuries, among them
Tyrtaios’s well known poem, with its comparison of ugly
and lovely.
For this is black, for an elderly man fallen in conflict
One of the front line fighters to lie before the young
men, an old 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 bare.
This sight is black for to beholdand reprehensible. But in contrast among young men all these
things are proper as long as he shines in the blooming of
Wonderful youth manhood. They’re admirablefor men to
see and fantastically attractivefor women while he’s
Living-and he seems also honorable and amazing
fallen in the front line.25
There isn’t any indication of any difference between Greeks
and barbarians in Homer in relation to language, religion (the Trojans’ sacrifice at the temple of Athena),
dress, or nudity. In the athletic competitions, the
heroes “gird their loins” to prepare for the wrestling
match. Early authors presumed this meant that they
wore the perizoma. Lately others have suggested
that they were participated in belt-wrestling, known from
the ancient Near East, where bare male figures wearing thick belts were common in early or protohistoric

cover their genitals. Complete nudity for guys could signify service to , a ritual “costume.”
The nude woman, consistently shown in front view, was
An extremely common motif that could have different meanings at different times. In Near Eastern art goddesses
were so signified, chief among them Ishtar
(Astarte), whose powerful, nude image was broadly
distributed, and influential in many areas and periods.28 The most common connotation of female nudity
in historical times seems to have been service rendered
in the temple.29 For guys, nevertheless, in the ancient
Near East and elsewhere it was a signal of defeat. As in

the Old Testament, nakedness signifies poverty,
Disgrace, captivity, humiliation.30
Greek prehistory offers fewer examples of whole
nudity. Active younger guys and heroes were represented in artwork wearing the perizoma or short pants31
throughout the Aegean and the entire Mediterranean,
in contrast to elderly guys, dressed in long chitons and