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Thread: Why Greeks are Always Nude

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    Lightbulb Why Greeks are Always Nude

    ...at least the Ancients, but such a teaser is a sure bet to provoke your curiosity, no?


    Why Ancient Greeks are Always Nude


    By Corey BinnsMale nudes are the norm in Greek art, even though historians have stated that ancient Greeks kept their clothes on for the most part. New research suggests that art might have been imitating life more closely than previously thought. Nudity was a costume used by artists to depict various roles of men, ranging from heroicism and status to defeat. "In ancient Greek art, there are many different kinds of nudity that can mean many different things," said Jeffrey Hurwit, an historian of ancient art at the University of Oregon. "Sometimes they are contradictory."

    Hurwit's newly published research shows that the Greeks did walk around in the buff in some situations. Men strode about free of their togas in the bedroom and at parties called symposia, where they would eat, drink and carouse. Nudity was also common on the athletic fields and at the Olympic games.(Because there are so many images of Greek athletes, some lay people have assumed the Greeks were in their birthday suits all the time.)


    Battling nudity

    However, nudity was often risky for the Greeks. "Greek males, it is generally agreed, did not walk around town naked, they did not ride their horses naked, and they certainly did not go into battle naked," Hurwit said. "In most public contexts, clothing was not optional, and in combat nakedness was suicidal." Warriors and heroes are often, but not always, represented in the nude. Artists demonstrated the physical prowess men used to defeat their enemies. But, as Hurwit said, if you can go into battle naked, you've got to be pretty good. However, heroes weren't the only men disrobed by ancient artists.


    Here's looking at you


    Hurwit's research, published in the Jan. issue of the American Journal of Archaeology, also found examples of defeated, dying and dead naked men. In these cases, nudity was chosen to represent the subjects' vulnerabilities. Meanwhile, common laborers were also drawn undressed, illustrating their sweat and muscles to show how hard they worked. Gods and people of higher social class were sometimes—but not always—depicted in the buff to demonstrate their place in society.

    Hurwit's research of these nuances of Greek art also offers a glimpse into the cultural source of our civilization today. "We can try to understand ourselves and our conception of what it means to be a hero and to exceed normal expectations," Hurwit told LiveScience. "The more we know about other cultures, the deeper we will be able to understand our own culture and ourselves."


    source


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    huh. Interesting. There's a lot of symbolism in sculpture.

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    As far as I am aware, Athletes performed in nude, partially to ensure that there would be no female competitors. Later, a woman became the coach of her son, who in due time should become a "Olympionike". When she ran to congratulate him for his glorious victory, it was discovered that she was indeed a female - and of course, females were disallowed from taking coaching positions, just as married women were generally disallowed from watching these skyclad men perform. The only reason why she was probably spared a sentence was because her son as well as her brother and her father had all been victorious at Olympic games ... either way, after this incident, coaches also had to enter the stadium bereaved of their vestments.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    Contributing: The ancient greeks were, like most pre-christian/pre-muslim/not-screwed-up-from-reading-leviticus peoples, very open about sex and sexuality. Clothes were functional or beautiful, but not primarily intended for the purpose of covering up their naughty bits.

    Lysistrata (the play) involves a very open and, imo, very sophisticated discussion about the role of sexuality/sex in the culture. As you remember, Lysistrata decides that she is going to stop the constant warring by denying men sex. One of the funniest lines in all of drama comes after she explains her plan to (I think it's Myrine--I've had several beers and can't figure out how to type it w/greek letters, so, advance apologies)--aaaaaannnnyway, Myrine says, very seriously "I would rather walk through fire than give up sex." Trust me, it's funny in a kind of "you'd have to be there" way. Really.

    Of course, it's a damn sight WARMER in Greece than in Bayern, so there's that to consider.

    Good gods, but this forum is as fun as falling into a clown's pocket--and that's very, very good.:bub

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