Hellenic Embodied Honour (Pride month Entry #4)
Muscle and definition were not only beautiful to the eye but also reflected on the moral character of the person.
Respectability took on several dimensions for all men in ancient Greece. The interior life – emotions, ideas, religious positions – and their reflection through the body combined to form an elaborate understanding of honor. Shame, by extension, stemmed from the absence of complexity manifested through the body.
In tracing pride and shame this month, ancient Greece is an interesting starting point. So far, the picture that seems to be emerging is that honourability was highly masculine – both literally speaking (in body) and also in its sexism. Military power tempered with love and altruism were redeeming aspects that seem to enable people to look the other way at a possibly erotic relationship between adult men, in a society were same-sex sexuality was largely restricted to pederasty.
Pride and the muscular body in the Hellenic World add another, possible layer to this exploration of the sources of pride/shame over time.