Athens, about the ancient association of the ephebeia
before its regularization in 335 B.C. Gymnastic exercises and the Pyrrhic dance must have played an important part as a preparation for war.74 The Athenian
pyrrhic, or armed dance, was performed naked at the
Panathenaia and involved choruses from the Athenian
tribes.75 The convention of the warrior athlete who participated in armed dances and races, still being held in
the Classical period, may, as Mouratidis noted, have
of the continuingdominanceof the aristocracyin a transforming
environment.”Murray’s views in Early Greece have been
developedfurther in an article, “The Symposium as Social
Organization,” in R. Hdigg ed., The Greek Renaissance of
the Eighth Century BC: Tradition and Invention (Stock-
holm 1983) 195-99. See E. Gabba, “La societhateniese nel
‘VecchioOligarca’,”Athenaeum66 ( http://videoamateurgratuit.net ) 6-10, for the scenario in Athens, ca. 440 B.C.
73 “The polis derivedfrom the folks in arms;it was essentially the state of the citizens. Both facts made the defenseof
the state the concernof its individuals. There was no question of
compulsory military service; it was the other way around:
the capability to serve constitutedthe fully qualified citizen”:
V. Ehrenberg, The Greek State (1960) 80. E.L. Wheeler,
“Hoplomachia and Greek Dances in Arms,” GRBS 23
(1982) 223-33, summarizesrecent work on this subject.
74 R. Ridley, “The
Hoplite as Citizen: Athenian Military
Institutions in Their Social Context,” AntCl 47 (1978)
509-48. P. Ducrey, Guerre et guerriers dans la Elegance an-
tique (Freiburg,Switzerland 1985) 69-72. For the ephebeia
at Athens and the crypteia at Sparta, see P. Vidal-Naquet,
in Annales 23 (1968) 947-64, and in G. Le Goff and P.
Nora eds., Faire de l’histoire III (Paris 1974) 151-60; see
also supra n. 45.
7′ Ridley (supra n. 74) 538-48; Wheeler (supra n. 73).
For representationsof the Pyrrhicdance,see Poursat (supra
n. 33). M. Detienne, “La phalange: problkmeset contro-
verses,” in J.-P. Vernant ed., Problemes de la guerre en
GrBceancienne (Paris 1968) 123; F. Lissarrague, “Autour
du guerrier,”in La cite des images (Paris 1984) 35-47. On
the attire of the knights (not a “uniform,”and infrequently bare),
see H. Cahn, “Dokimasia,”RA 1973, 3-22.
originated in earlier times before being introduced
into the Olympic program.76
The Greeks were proud of their soldiers’ physique
and of the tan skin that was the consequence of their exercising in the nude. A story about Agesilaos of Sparta
illustrates how, to a proficient military eye, nakedness
Let an accurate judgment of a man’s physical fitness: “He gave directions.., .that the barbarians
captured in the raids be exposed for sale naked. So
when his soldiers saw them white because they never
stripped, and fat and idle through constant riding in
Buggies, they considered that the war would be exactly
like fighting with women.”77 The comparison between
their own bronzed men’s bodies and the white, feminine flabbiness of the Persians revived the courage
of the Greek troops.
Male bodies on Attic painted vases reveal the meaning of physical attractiveness for sportsmen, youths, citizens,
and soldiers. Most are lithe and slender, though one
Attic red-figure vase shows a heavy, paunchy body,
holding boxing thongs, with others at the palaestra
(fig. 3): he’s a specialized athlete, a boxer.78 A uncommon
scene of nude men who are horrible turns out to symbolize slaves who prepare the palaestra, not citizens exercising in the gymnasium (fig. 4),79 indicating the dif-
Body 3. Red-figurecup, ca. 480 B.C.: sportsmen training. http://hqnudism.com . (CourtesyTrustees of the British Museum)
ference between the free man who worked out bare,
gymnos, in the gymnasium, and the slave who was
naked in the line of work and out of poverty. (The
slaves on this vase, like the athletes, are infibulated.) A
law prohibited slaves to work out and anoint themselves in
the gymnasia like free men (though obviously it did
not prohibit them to enter in order to do the needed
work for their upkeep).80 The custom of frequenting
the gymnasium was characteristic not only of free men
Generally speaking, but of upper class citizens, who worked out
as members of the hoplite army. The usage of nudity for
Charming reasons, on the other hand, belonged to an alternate level of reality-and was restricted, as we’ve
seen, to herms, satyrs, and the period.
By the Classical period, the custom-or “habit”-of
nudity had transformed, from a religious to a civic practice.
From the ritual nudity of the kouros-set up, from the
seventh century B.C. on, as image of Apollo, votive gift,
funerary picture, offering or servant of the god-and the
Rite nudity of the athlete who competed in the
Olympic matches, dedicated to the gods, there was a
change to the athletic nudity of the citizen-soldier. The
transition was, I believe, initially involved with the
ritual costume suitable for initiation rites.
This passage from a religious to a civic context was