The deep and often painful emotions of pleasure,
pain, shock, or shame that the sight of the nakedbody
arouseswere used by artistsin many ways. Nakedness
was, and still is, always something unique. It can
signify divinity, or reveal human helplessness. Most
Remarkable is the magic of the erect male genitals,
and the satyr and in Old Comedy.
I’ve tried to illustrate some aspects of the portrayal of nakedness,partial and complete,for guys
and for women, in Greece, and in the barbarian
world; to interpret some of the early accounts, and
to “read”some of the images, in the Greek arty
language, together with in some very queer barbariandialects. There are obviously problems of translation,
Frequently involving our own understandingof the naked
Robertson413, 488. Barbarianprisonerson Roman
148 Suprans. S. Freud,A GeneralIntroduction

to Psychoanalysis(first English publ. New
York 1964) 160: “The number of things which are repre-

in dreamsis notgreat. The humanbody
as a whole, parents,children,brothersand sisters,birth,
death, nakedness….

Suprans.9-10, 38. AmongrecentstudiesseeL. di Stasi,


figure in art. We often think of it as mainly lusty.
Eros certainly goes behind the sight of the naked
human body, but its sexual significanceis not the only
one in artwork. In fact, when it is only eroticits meaning is
least powerful. The Aphroditeof Euripides’Hippolytus, with all her awesomepower, was completely dressed. In
Greece the remarkable initiation of athletic male
nudity, which surely originated in a rite, religious
Circumstance, developeda specific social and civic meaning.
the gymnasia marked guys’s standing as citizens of the
polis and as Greeks.
men were shown.
Female figuresshown nakedin people, on the other
hand, were generally entertainers. Girls depicted
as exposed were violated, stripped of their clothing,
and in dreadfuldanger,as vulnerableand unprotected
before as Athenian law thought
them to be in life. Clothes differentiates men from
Creatures. This differentiation continues to be valid in Classical
Greek art for girls (thoughnot for guys). Polyxena,
sacrificedlike animals.
The view of nakedness among barbarians differs,
Frequently contrasting sharply with that of mainland
Greece in the Classical period, and allows us to see
more certainly, maybe,just how unique the Greekconcept and customwere.
Assortment of adjustmentsto comprise-in a limited waythe ancient ideal of Greek male nudity and of the
gymnasia in their artwork and in their life. The Gauls’ custom of fightingnakedwas remarkedon as “foreign”by
the Greeks. In Etruria, and in Italy, female nudity
and the image of the nursing mom still mark the
In Classical antiquity, thus, the contrast between the clothed and the nude human body was
used to express some of the most basic contrastsof the
human encounter:God and man, human and animal,
Guy and girl, public world and privatelife

Mal Occhio:The Undersideof Vision(San Francisco1981),
with review by A. Burgess, TLS, 4 September 1981, 999;

Cultural studies practitioners have long debated the signication of clothes and
the methods in which they signify sensuality, sexuality, status, along with the ethics
and codes of creation of garments, consumption, the operations of ideas of
Fitting in the subscription to fashion trends — all in all, the manners in which
Clothes symbolizes. Analyses of garments and fashion have frequently treated the
‘naked’ body as if it is prior to representation besides in its depiction in art,
pornography, advertising and other media. The discourses in art history and people
sphere parlance over the differences between naked and nude are moot points
when seen through a post structuralist lens. Kenneth Clark (1956) suggests
that artistic rendering — high art — has the ability to represent the naked as nude,
as if ‘nude’ is another form or style of clothes, leaving behind ‘naked’ as the truly
disrobed. Treating the nude body this way ignores how ‘s always already
represented and constrained by codes of behavior, contexts, distinction from
the clothed body, loose signications and ethnic rites. Although nakedness is