sources deal with central characteristics of their cultures:

Normally, 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 awesome in the historical world. The word
refers to total 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 particularly “exercising in the
nude.”22 The word had become something awesome, just as
the Greeks had made something awesome of the ancient so-


In Homer’s poems, of around 800 B.C., nakedness
Entails shame, vulnerability, departure, and dishonor.
The naked 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 because of the special circumstances. The
hero is meeting a young, single woman for the
first time, and it would hardly be suitable for him
to appear before her totally nude. Homer presents us, it seems, as so often, with the old and the
Awesome, the traditional and the earliest case of what
is to come.
A crucial passage appears to illustrate this type of coexistence. In the 22nd book of the Iliad, Priam and Hecuba
in turn attempt-in vain-to dissuade Hector from
going to battle and to certain death. Both allure to his
compassion, and respect, by facing him with the spectacle of their nakedness. The sight of one’s parents’ nakedness is amazing.24 Priam paints a picture of his
own departure and degradation. An old man’s departure is
Hideous: “When an old man is dead and down, and the
dogs mutilate the gray head and the gray beard and the
parts that are shameful (albi^), this, for all sad mortality is the sight most pitiful” (II. -76). Immediately
after this, Hecuba shows her breast and holds it out
for Hector, in entreaty (79-81). This pitiable importance refers to the traditional sense of nakedness.
What exactly is new is what compares with the
grisly, black, horrible departure of an old man: the beauty
of the nakedness of a young man. “For a young man
all is decorous when he is cut down in conflict and ripped

with the sharp bronze, and lies there, and though dead
all that shows about him is amazing… ” (II.
22.71-73). The image is startling at this kind of early
date. It was understandably famous. Echoes of the
passage sounded down the centuries, among them
Tyrtaios’s well-known poem, with its contrast of nasty
and delightful.
For this is black, for an old man fallen in conflict
One of the front line combatants to lie before the young
Guys, an elderly guy 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 vision 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
Wonderful youth manhood. They are admirablefor men to
see and wonderfully attractivefor girls while he is
Living-and he looks also honorable and beautiful
fallen in the front line.25
There’s no sign 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 writers presumed this meant that they
wore the perizoma. Recently others have suggested
that they were engaged in belt-wrestling, understood from
the ancient Near East, where naked male figures wearing thick belts were common in early or protohistoric

cover their genitals. Absolute nudity for men could signify service to the god, a ritual “costume.”
The naked girl, constantly revealed in front view, was
a very common motif that could have different significance at different times. In Near Eastern artwork goddesses
were so signified, primary among them Ishtar
(Astarte), whose strong, nude picture was extensively
Spread, and powerful in many areas and spans.28 The most common connotation of female nudity
in historical times seems to have been service rendered
in family nudist hardcor pic For guys, nevertheless, in the ancient
Near East and elsewhere it was a signal of defeat. As in
the Old Testament, nakedness signifies poverty,
shame, slavery, humiliation.30
Greek prehistory offers fewer examples of complete
nudity. Active younger men and heroes were represented in art wearing the perizoma or short pants31
throughout the Aegean and the entire Mediterranean,
in contrast to elderly men, dressed in long chitons and