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When the British Museum opens its blockbuster exhibition of Greek sculpture this spring, curators believe visitors may have one burning question. While the neighbouring Egyptian and Assyrian galleries are filled with fully clothed gods and mortals, the ancient Greeks chose to depict the human body in its natural state. Elgin Marbles: British Museum loan 'an affront' to Greek people.

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The high values the society and people placed on the games and the athletes are what defined the epitome of humankind. Ancient Greek Olympic athletes were often. In ancient Greek, hundreds of city-state called polis was developed throughout the area.

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Overall, the male nude in Greek sculpture was used to portray the ideal athlete, and was regarded as a powerful and worthy body, whereas the female body was primarily covered and used to portray fertility and motherhood. Where the men embodied strength and hardness, the women were soft and vulnerable. Women were expected to birth children, so their bodies were portrayed as fertile, soft beings in the nude form.

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James Robson does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under Creative Commons licence. A new exhibition at the British Museum promises to lift the lid on what beauty meant for the ancient Greeks. But while we gaze at the serene marble statues on display — straining male torsos and soft female flesh — are we seeing what the ancients saw?

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Male nudes are the norm in Greek arteven though historians have stated that ancient Greeks kept their clothes on for the most part. New research suggests that art might have been imitating life more closely than previously thought. Nudity was a costume used by artists to depict various roles of men, ranging from heroicism and status to defeat.

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There is a tendency in modern scholarship to interpret naked men, especially when they are warriors, as heroes. In Greek art, these nude figures are assumed to be special in some way. This is because scholars assume that, throughout Greek history, nudity was regarded as something out of the ordinary: regular mortals did not normally appear naked in public aside from the gymnasia or bathslet alone that they would actually fight in the nude.

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By Harry Mount for the Daily Mail. Perhaps the most famous Greek sculpture of all, Discobolos, the discus-thrower, shows how athletes competed in the nude. About two-and-a-half thousand years ago, a cultural miracle took place in ancient Greece. Democracy was born in Athens, the first great tragedies and comedies were written — and statues were carved that were more astonishingly lifelike than ever before.

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Figures with no clothes are peculiarly common in the art of the Western world. This situation might seem perfectly natural when one considers how frequent the state of undress is in every human life, from birth to the bath to the boudoir. In art, however, naked figures relate very little to these humble conditions and instead reflect a very complex set of formal ideals, philosophical concerns, and cultural traditions.

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T he oddity of ancient sculpture often escapes us. A male nude, a Greek statue, has become very familiar over the past 2, years: it is what we expect of ancient statuary, that it show off its muscles. At times it can seem overly familiar, a bit tacky or tawdry or maybe just banal, evoking the withdrawing room of an aesthete of the s, a gay sauna in the s or the yard at the back of a modern garden centre alongside the blue-glazed planters and bird baths. The Uffizi in Florence was once most famous for its collection of classical sculptures, but who now spends much time looking at them as they barge past to the Botticellis?

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