an investigation an arduous undertaking. It is the purpose of this paper to demonstrate
that nudity in Greek athletic contest had its roots in ancient Greece and was
Associated with the warrior-athlete whose training and competition in the games
was at exactly the same time his preparation for war. The distinction between warriorathlete and sportsman is that both were bare but the former wore in certain occasions
some parts of his panoply which he lost as time went on.
In 520 B.C. the armed race (Fig. 1) was introduced at Olympia which can
partly be explained as a reminiscence of the warrior-athlete. The competitions
were naked except for a helmet and greaves, and carried a shield. It is potential
that this kind of race was practiced in some local contests before its
Launch into the Olympic plan. Similar races were held at Nemea and
according to Philostratos were of great antiquity.2
In Athens an attempt was made at the close of the sixth century to
introduce loincloths into athletic competitions. This is clear from a small
Amount of black figured Athenian vases (Figs, 2,3) that depict sportsmen wearing
loincloths. This attempt apparently failed, and nudity again became the vogue
in athletic contest. It is possible this is what Thucydides and Plato had in mind
when they wrote the introduction of nudity in the games had taken place
just before their own time. The small number of these vases (520- beach erotic video .)
* I ‘m thankful for the useful criticism and comments of anonymous reviewers of this Journal.
1. For references see lames Arieti, “Nudity in Greek Athletics,” The Classical World 68 (1975): 431-436.
Also see Kenneth Clark, The Nude:A Study of Ideal Art (London, 1957), pp.21. 162, 163. These studies offer an
admirable help toward understanding a phenomenon within a higher culture. When, nevertheless, one attempts to locate
the source of the problem, which is disoriented in the dark mists of ancient time he cannot use the same reasoning (selfcontrol, health and attractiveness arguments) to clarify it. If one does so he must be ready to acknowledge that all races of the
world began their existence on earth at the bottom of the scale with the exception of the Greeks. But the Greeks,
like all other human races, commenced their profession at the underparts of the the scale and worked their way upward from
savagery to civilization and admittedly retained some survivals of that old condition. This paper tries to explain the
same problem, which is nudity in Greek athletics, by looking into the animal part of human nature, the early
State of the human race, its psychological nature and reasoning, its mental and moral powers, and its protracted
Battle against anxiety.
2. Philostratos Gymn 7. For Philostratos as an inaccurate source see E. L. Bowie, “Greeks and Their Past in
the Second Sophistic,” Past and Present 46 (1970): 17. For more on the armed-race see Aristophanes Birds 291;
PlatoLaws 833a; Pausanias 2.11.8; 5.12.8; 6.10.4; Pollux 3.3; Philostratos Gymn. 8, 24.
Red-figure Attic Vase. E. Norman Gardiner, “Notes on the Greek Foot Race,” JHS 23
(1903) fig. 14. (Courtesy of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies).
prompted some scholars to raise the question of reintroduction of loincloths in
athletics.3 This was not an effort to “reintroduce” but instead to introduce
loincloths in the games because prior to these vase portrayals there is
nothing in Greek art to signify the existence of loincloths in sports. The
alleged change from loincloths to nudity isn’t exemplified in any Greek artwork.
Thucydides wrote the Spartans “were the first to bare their bodies and,
after stripping openly, to anoint themselves with oil when they participated in
Fit exercise.” Dionysios of Halicarnassos believed that “The first man who
at the close of the sixth century to introduce the loincloth and that this temporary way is the reason for
Thucydides’ statement?” See E. Norman Cardiner, Sport of the Ancient World (Oxford, 1930), p. 191
(hereafter mentioned as AAW). On loincloths see, e.g., J. C. Mann, “Gymnazo in Thucydides 1.6.5-6,” Classical
Review 24 (1974): 77, who wrote: “While the representations of athletes on vases had usually portrayed them
naked, it may be that an attempt to reintroduce loincloths were made in Greece before Thucydides’ time (as
Indicated by E. N. Gardiner [AAW] advertising fig. 163 .)”. James Arieti, “Nudity in Greek Athletics,” [431 11.31
said: “E. Norman Gardiner [AAW, p, 191] suggests, on the basis of a vase belonging to the end of the sixth century
in which the athletes wear a white loincloth, that http://nudism-life.com may have been made to reintroduce the loincloth at
this time. But Gardiner is himself very uncertain on this point, lifting it simply as a question, and there’s no real
Signs that the loincloth was re introduced.” Both Mann’s and Arieti’s statements are wrong since Gardiner