to the grave naked. “The maidens ceased to seek a voluntary death, deterred by only shame of so disgraceful a interment.”90

Literature, as well as artwork, maintains evidence of the
apotropaic significance of female nakedness in Greek
In addition to Eastern mythology: Baubo makes Demeter
laugh by lifting her skirts and showing her genitals;
the women of Xanthos bare themselves before Bellerophon.9′ Herodotus comprehends the significance of
the story of Gyges, who looks upon the king’s wife
naked and therefore must become the king himself. Artemis feels diminished by Actaeon; he has seen her nakedness, and must die.92
In Ancient Greek art, particularly in Attic vase
painting, naked women are typically prostitutes. Decent girls did not go out much, they did not
attend male symposia, and they certainly did not undress in public. They were in fact protected from the
sun, from men’s eyes, and from the evil eye by dresses
and mantels that covered them from head to foot.
Exceptions verify the specific character of nudity
in women. Women occasionally participated in fit and ritual nudity. Spartan girls danced nude in
Particular initiation rituals, as we understand from literature.93
Girls also took part in a footrace at the festival of Hera
at Olympia, as Pausanias tells us; it has recently been
Indicated that Spartan practice may have impacted


Wives, by comparison, were not shown publicly in art,
not so much because they did not count, as from a regard for the privacy of the union still found in many
Mediterranean states. We know (Ar. Lys. 72) that
wives did undress for their husbands.102 A passage in
Theopompos’ scandal-mongering account of naturist gallery of the Etruscans, compared with those of
the Greeks, exemplifies Greek criticism of foreigners’
frankness about sexual matters, particularly between
husband and wife: “[The Etruscans] really say,
when the master of the house is making love [hapobtand someone inquires for him, that he’s unor-La~7Tat],
dergoing so-and-so, openly calling the act by its indecent name.”103 In a similar vein, on Attic vases even
scenes once thought to symbolize the solitude of the
Dwelling (including scenes of wool-working) can be seen
to deal with the world of courtesans.104
A Corinthian vase shows the scene of Ismene who
has been found in adultery by her husband, Tydeus.’05 She is bare breasted. Her lover, who was in
bed with her, attempts to escape. He is signified
Nude, which is not surprising. What is astonishing is
the white colour, very uncommon for a guy, here used maybe
not only for visual contrast, but to underscore his nakedness as “female,” rather than male, with connotations of eroticism and danger. (Is the artist expressing
something like the chorus’s snarl at Aegisthus, when
he finally makes his appearance at the ending of Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, “so then you, like a girl, waited

the war outside, here in the house, shaming the master’s

bed with lust …
Gods can afford to be nude, or to look upon nakedness, without being diminished.1’0 In Greek artwork guys
participate to some extent in this divine nudity. But
naked or partially naked girls are defenseless. The
contrast is clear on a red-figure vase of the fifth century B.C. on which we see a desperate girl clinging to the statue of an impassive Apollo signified as
a naked kouros (fig. 2).108
The difference between men and women was most
marked in Athens, as we have seen. That is a great
reason for this situation. The equality among male citizens in the political life of the city, based on their
equality on the battle field in the hoplite phalanx, widened the space between public and private life,
and consequently between the worlds of men and
women.10′ In public life, and in an artwork which was
People by its very nature, the distinction between the
Look of men and women was accentuated, and,
in particular, the significance of the sight of their
naked bodies. Male citizens were recognized by
their costume from women, who participated neither
in conflict nor in the assembly. A nude woman was a
slave, for hire, or about to be violated. It is a often known fact that, while male nudity in art dates back
to Archaic times, respectable female nudity typically
Doesn’t appear until much later; not until the Hellenistic period, in fact, and then just for Aphrodite, ac-

Among barbariansnudity as a costumealso existed,
but in distinct contexts. That of the Gauls is documentedby referencesof Ancient writers. That of the
Etruscanscan be seen in their arts, which enable us to
look at the reaction of a barbarian, i.e. non-Greek,
people to the Greek conventions viewing nudity.
This Greek innovationwas acceptedby modern
Etruscans, as by later Romans, as one of the signs of
“Culture.”It was never adopted in daily life, nevertheless, just in artwork, and even then reluctantly. The attitude to nudity outside Greece was quite differentfrom
that of , and it remindsus, once more, what