undertook to strip and ran nude at Olympia, at the fifteenth Olympiad, was
Acanthus the Lacedaemonian.’14
There’s a competing tradition told by Pausanias about Orsippos of Megara, “who
won a foot race at Olympia running naked at a time when sportsmen used to wear
loincloths in the old style.” There’s a Hellenistic epitaph about Orsippos that
was inscribed on the athlete’s grave in Megara saying that he was the first of the
Greeks in Olympia crowned naked and that before him all sportsmen girded
themselves during the games. It is evident that the Megarians were making a
counterclaim to Sparta’s and desired to show a native of Megara was the
first nude winner. The storyline about Orsippos seems ambiguous and dubious
since there are several different narratives about his performance in the race.
According to the Homeric scholiasts (on Iliad 23.683) Orsippos not only lost
the race but he tripped, fell, and died when his loincloth came adrift. A distinct
Narrative mentions Orsippos not as a victor in the race but as a loser because he
became entangled in his shorts.5
Another tradition points to the Athenians as the inventors of nudity in
athletics. A runner, according to this story, leading the field lost footing and fell
4. Thucydides 1.5.6. (The Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1928) Trans. by Charles
Foster Smith; Dionysios of Halicarnassos 7.72.3 (The Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge, Mass., and London,
1928) Trans. by E. Gary.
5. Pausanias 1.44.1. (The Penguin Classics. Great Britain, 1971) Trans. by Peter Levi; 1.G 7.52; Joseph
Fontenrose, “The Hero as Sportsman,” California Studies in Classical Antiquity 1 (1968): 93; F. Bohringer, “Cults
D’Athlttes en Grce Classique: Propos Politique, Discours Mythiques,”Revue des Erudes Anciennes 81 (1979):
Loft stamnos of the late 6th century B.C., E. Norman Gardiner Athletics of the Ancient
World (Oxford University Press, 1930), fig. 163. (Courtesy of Oxford University Press).
because his short pants floated freely down to his legs; so the Athenian archon
Hippomenes in order to prevent any recurrence of the injury, applied, by
law, that all men in the future should exercise naked.6
So while the majority of traditional sources impute nudity in sports as early
as the 8th century B.C., Plato and Thucydides considered that it occurred not
long before their own era.
It appears from two Homeric references to boxing and one to wrestling that
Sportsmen girded themselves during their athletic competitions. These three
citations prompted some scholars to conclude that nudity wasn’t a practice
among the Mycenaean Greeks, presuming that Homer described in his epics
Mycenaean sport practices. But there’s enough evidence to demonstrate that many of
the games and athletic practices described in Homer’s epic poems were anachronistically introduced by the poet into his epics. The Homeric epic poems, it has
been pointed out, revealed fit practices of many periods, including the
poet’s.7 It becomes clear the Homeric athletes girded themselves for the
contact occasions. Unfortunately the poet did not say anything about loincloths for
6. lsidoros Source. Et. 18.172.
7. See Iliad 23. 685; 23. 710; Odyssey 18.76; John Mouratidis, “Greek Sports, Games and Festivals Before
the Eighth Century B.C.” (Ph.D. diss., The Ohio State University, 1982). pp. 193.219, 235-237.
Source of Nudity in Greek Sport
the other games. Do we need to presume that they competed nude in these
events? It’s difficult to say. One might well suggest the Homeric references to
loincloths in sport reveal a practice of the poet’s own time since the material
evidence demonstrates that nudity wasn’t unknown in Mycenaean Greece.
It’s possible that Ionia, http://x-pot.com , was impacted by the existing practice in the asian world. In the time of Herodotos (5th century B .C.), the
Lydians, and barbarians in general, considered that it was a disgrace for a guy to be
seen nude. This Anatolian approach towards nudity was seemingly shared, to
some extent, by the Greeks who lived in areas under Anatolian sway. An
indication of this influence is that the inhabitants of the coast of Asia Minor
borrowed and adopted various elements of oriental dress in addition to various hair
styles. Additionally, the Persian pointed hat and shoes with effeminate connotations
and the long-sleeved chiton were embraced by the Phrygians and Ionian Greeks
during the interval of Persian rule.8 Furthermore the magnificent Ionian garments that
Herodotos frequently describes were rather characteristic of the asian world.
Some writers point to Thersites to demonstrate that to be seen nude was considered
indecent in the Mycenaean or Homeric times. Thersites was threatened by Odysseus with the public degradation of running http://x-public.com to the Greek ships. This
punishment must have been a black and humiliating one, but this must have