been due not only to his nakedness but also to Thersites’ nasty physical look which the poet described in detail. Thersites appears only once in the

Iliad and even though his presence is brief, it really is significant because he personifies unheroic, even antiheroic features, and these are reflected in his appearance. Homer and the later Greek poets and writers made a clear differentiation
between the ugly and the beautiful, the young and the old. Homer had a deep
appreciation for physical prowess and beauty as is evidenced in many passages
in his epic poems. Hector desired to fight with Achilles and die young and attractive
instead of dying old and horrible.9 Tyrtaios believed that:

It’s shocking when an old man lies on the front line before a youth: an old warrior
whose head is white and beard gray, exhaling his strong soul into the dust
clutching his bloody genitals in his hands: his flesh nude. But in a young man all
is beautiful when he still possesses the bright flower of wonderful youth.10

that the Minoan sportsmen exercised in the nude. The close artistic ties of Crete with
the Cyclades, generally, and Thera, in particular, seem to obtain the approval of
many writers. The recent excavations of S. Marinatos throws fresh light upon the
relationship of Crete with Thera in ancient times. Numerous items of artwork
found on the isle of Thera show the connections with Crete were very close. An
impressive fresco from Thera, discovered in 1970, and dated 1500 B.C.,
represents two youngsters boxing. Marinatos is of the view that this fresco is “the
oldest existing example of artwork signifying the real anatomy of a child’s body.”12
Each child wears one boxing glove on his right hand, and a blue cap upon which
curls of short and long hair are apparently attached. Both kids, between eight
and ten years of age, wear loincloths. So Minoan Crete and the Cyclades offer
no alternative to the issue of the origin of nudity in Greek sport.
Mycenaean and Geometric Greek art clearly show that games in honour of
dead heroes were a common practice among the Greeks. Mycenaean, Geometric, and early Archaic warriors (Fig.4) are occasionally symbolized as exposed
in the parts below their breastplate. This exposure is especially noticeable
during funeral games and other religious ceremonies for the deceased. On three tall
limestone slabs (stelai), found at Mycenae and dated 1600 B.C., are represented
Chariot races. All three stelai are decorated with chariot scenes. There is one
charioteer (Fig.5) for each chariot and all three chariot drivers are nude and
unarmed, except for the sword. These chariot races were held as part of the
funeral ceremonies for a chieftain, and as such, were considered suitable themes
for decoration of stelai erected over graves. The so called Silver Siege Rhyton

Early Archaic Corinthian aryballos. K. Friis Johansen, Les Vases Sicyoniens (ParisCopenhagen, Edouard Champion, Pio Paul Brenner, 1923) PI. 34(2).
12. Find S. Marinates, Excavations at Them. Vols. I-IV (Athens 1967.1971),passim; E. Vermeule, Greece in
the Bronze Age (Chicago, 1964), pp. 77, 116. 120; J. Caskey, “Excavations in Keos, 1963,”Hesperia 33 (1964):
314; S. Marinates. “Life and Art in Ancient Thera.” Event of the British Academy 57 (1971): 358.363,
367; idem, “Les Egens et les Iles Gymnsiennes,” Bulletin de correspondance hellnique 95 (1971):6; idem
“Divine Children,” Archaiologika Analekta ex Athenon 12 (1971): 407.408.

found at Mycenae shows on the fringe of the water three naked slingers elongated
full height, act as a shielder for four or five nude archers as they pull their bows.
In exactly the same scene a naked warrior comes running past them. In addition, the Siege
Rhyton shows six collapsed naked guys, who could be interpreted as the dead.13
A fragment of Mycenaean chariot krater from Enkomi (Cyprus) (Fig.6)
depicts a nude standing male figure who holds two variously interpreted
Things in his hands; in front of the bare guy there’s a robed male body who
wears a sword; in this composition little vases have been set in the field; in
front of the robed guy there’s a two horse chariot within which there are two
robed figures. It’s been presumed this scene depicts a funeral ceremony
and that the vases are prizes at follow , like the set of tripods on a
Dipylon vase. The latest interpretation of this scene by M. I. Davies is
that the nude figure “may well be an ordinary athlete with what in ancient
times were two of his common attributes: a pickaxe and either a pointed
marking stake or strigil.” Davies believes that this interpretation “would project
some light upon the conservative transmission of fit customs and equipment from the Mycenaean into the classical span.”14
A fragment of from Enkomi signifies two bare figures
13. George Mylonas, ” ,”American Journal of Archaeology 55 (1951): 137-147