Nudity and the (Ancient) Greek ‘nude ideal’

I’ve picked this story up from the BBC today, in which the British Museum is holding an exhibition about ‘Defining Beauty‘, wherein the Ancient Greeks apparently stylised a sense of ‘beauty’ which still holds true today. For example, we all take exercise so we can look good by going to the gym.

Gym, from ‘gymnasium‘, is a Greek word, which originally meant ‘naked school’, or ‘naked exercise’ (within an academic surrounding).

As Dr. Ian Jenkins, from the British Museum, says in the BBC piece, “for the Greeks the body had almost entirely positive connotations: there was no shame“, going on to add that “For a man in Ancient Greece to be naked at, say, the wrestling academy was to join the ranks of the righteous. Representations of the naked male were common and I doubt they ever shocked anyone.”

What a wonderful approach to have compared within our current trend for social-media driven ‘body shaming’.

Ancient Greek athletes practice their skills.


It’s not nudity all the way, though. In Ancient Greek art the female is rarely depicted nude.

“The fact is that in Ancient Greece social convention meant a respectable woman would never be seen unclothed.

“So a representation of Aphrodite (goddess of love) might show her bathing as that’s a situation in which a woman can legitimately have no clothes on. But even that came relatively late in the Ancient Greek period. 

“Sculptors often resorted to drapes or sometimes to a modestly placed arm. Of course, you may argue that a finely executed tissue of drapery could make the image more erotic rather than less.”CapitolineVenusMa335

Dr Jenkins also adds that “Ancient Greece was honest and perfectly open about homosexuality and accepted it in young men.”

Once again, an enlightened approach in stark contrast to our sometimes horribly homophobic world.



I found two depictions of Ancient Greece within Second Life, (this LM leads to the second one) as well as landmarks and sims for Ancient Rome,  Ancient Egypt,(warning: this Egypt sim bills itself as a BDSM sim. Reflexively, this isn’t an SLN thing, but it’s a good-looking sim for photography purposes at least. I have absolutely no idea if domination/subjugation was an Egyptian thing, I’m going to guess not, as the likes of Cleopatra rose to lead that Empire) the Ottoman Empire and Sparta, as well as a shop dedicated to ancient historical clothing here. 

There are numerous other historical sites available. Role-play is not something that I’ve ever done so I couldn’t say how these sims work, exactly, but I would assume that, to some extent, nudity is an acceptable part of the deal, at least in some of the sims.

ancient eqypt no nudity_001b

No nudity in Ancient Egypt (sim)

I didn’t notice much in the way of freebie clothes on my whistle-stop tour, but I wasn’t really there for an exercise in how to look the part in role-play sims. What I can say is that I wasn’t able to find any diaphanous, figure-hugging clothing (drapes) that might replicate a woman in Greek Art.