The discussion of the nude in the Greek culture and our perceptions of the nude in today's world

Essay by fattyfatassCollege, UndergraduateA, February 2003

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The nude body is an interesting subject that most people feel uncomfortable talking about. In our culture, nudity is related to shame and indignity, going all the way back to the beginning of history; "Adam and Eve, having lost their innocence, covered themselves to hide their nakedness" (reader 247). This being the case, any form of nudity brought to the public view is used for attention, whether it is bad or good. In ancient Greece thought, society was built on the nudity of the male body, praised and glorified by the people.

In the Greek culture, the young male body held an important position among the society. The males between the ages of 15 and 25 were at their prime and were the object of desire. For the most part, the men were expected to exercise in the nude, "the Greeks considered nakedness a characteristic of their civilization" (Spivey), and it was thought to be very beautiful.

The times were the males spent exercising in the nude was when they considered themselves at their best. Creating nude statues was one of the ways in which the Greeks could idolize this look of perfection.

One of the earliest sculptures of the nude male is a kouros (young man) dated to about 600 BC. Most of the kouros were made out of marble, representing gods, warriors, and triumphal athletes. The normal pose of a kouros would be a very stiff posture with both hands at its side and the left leg extended out a little bit. The statues were made during the Archaic period, giving them the well-known archaic smile. What some people would mistake the kouros of being in a trance, staring off into nowhere, this was how the Greeks wanted to be seen. To a Greek, one who could...