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.
Sculptures of Aphrodite of Knidos now stand gracefully and innocuously in places like the Vatican and the Louvre.
For the Ancient Greeks, the human body was a sacred thing that was meant to be celebrated in both art and everyday life. Outside of the sporting arena, women still bared their chests alongside men in everyday life. Traditional Minoan dresses were cut down to the mid-waist leaving the breasts exposed; a stark contrast to today where in many parts of society women will be criticized just for breastfeeding a baby in public.
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