The Open UniversitySkip to content
 

Beauty and sex appeal in Aristophanes

Robson, James (2013). Beauty and sex appeal in Aristophanes. EuGeStA: Journal on Gender Studies in Antiquity, 3 pp. 43–66.

Full text available as:
[img]
Preview
PDF (Version of Record) - Requires a PDF viewer such as GSview, Xpdf or Adobe Acrobat Reader
Download (900kB) | Preview
URL: http://eugesta.recherche.univ-lille3.fr/revue/pdf/...
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar

Abstract

This article undertakes a survey of the plays of Aristophanes in order to reveal what they tell us about concepts of attractiveness and body image. Old Comedy presents us with a view of beauty from a largely male perspective, and, instructively, the vast majority of comments that male characters make concern the appearance of females rather than boys or youths. Women are regularly discussed in comedy in terms of their body parts, e.g. and especially their breasts, and the ideal woman is, perhaps predictably, youthful. Further characteristics in women such as pale, smooth skin and well-tended pubic hair also attract positive comments. Male beauty is perhaps more complex. One ideal is certainly that of the broad-shouldered, tanned youth with gleaming skin and a small penis who exercises in the gymnasium. But there is also evidence of pale-skinned, effeminate youths being viewed in a positive light. In addition to looks, clothing and scent can add to women’s erotic appeal, and actions such as playing with phallic-shaped food are seen as flirtatious in both sexes. This article explores overlaps in the ways in which male and female beauty is described and suggests that these correspondences are partly explicable through the similar ages at which boys and girls are considered to be at their peak. The discussion also reveals the almost complete lack of attention paid to facial features – both in Aristophanes and classical Greek literature as a whole.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2013 Not known
ISSN: 2156-2253
Keywords: sex; sexuality; beauty, body; Old Comedy; youth; flirtation; clothing; prostitutes; pederasty
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities > Classical Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Arts and Humanities
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Related URLs:
Item ID: 39689
Depositing User: James Robson
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 10:24
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2019 13:58
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/39689
Share this page:

Download history for this item

These details should be considered as only a guide to the number of downloads performed manually. Algorithmic methods have been applied in an attempt to remove automated downloads from the displayed statistics but no guarantee can be made as to the accuracy of the figures.

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   contact the OU