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 Museum Explorer

Dress and ornament in Ancient Greece

The Strangford Apollo

Height: 101.000 cm

GR 1864.2-20.1 (Sculpture B 475)

The Strangford Apollo

From: the island of Anáfi, Cyclades, Aegean Sea
Date: about 500-490 BC

For us, one of the most unusual things about the ancient Greeks is how often we see the men with no clothes on. For them, the naked body of a free, male Greek was completely normal; only barbarian foreigners felt ashamed at being naked.

This did not mean that all men went around with nothing on, but it is certain that Greek men did not wear anything when they exercised and did athletics – the Greek word ‘gymnasium’ means the place where you exercise naked.

In Greek art, nakedness is often used to set the person aside from everyone else: sometimes as an an athlete, sometimes as a hero and sometimes as dead.

However, it was not proper for women to be seen naked – women were closed in by their clothes and by their houses. In Greek myth, seeing a goddess naked usually leads to disaster.