The existence of these loincloths on athletes depicted in Attic art in the sixth century, however, has

proved to be a red herring for some scholars working
in the field of ancient athletic contest. Misled by what appeared to them to record the before athletic perizoma, some hypothesized that Thucydides' remark on
the recent change to nudity referred to its reintroduction in the fifth century B.C. after an interruption of
the early tradition.123
There are other instances of Greek potters turning
their attention to the Etruscan market, nevertheless;124
and the custom of showing sportsmen wearing garments,
rather than seeming completely nude, is not surprising in Etruria. Although athletes do regularly appear B.C. (in everyday life they possibly continued to wear a perizoma), there are a number of
sixth- and fifth-century instances of reliefs and wall
paintings, including a group from Chiusi, from the
Three dimensional examples
are rarer: in sculpture, the naked Greek kouros normally served as model.125

of the repertoire of Archaic and Ancient Etruscan art
contrasts powerfully with the Greek. We see sportsmen
wearing short pants or perizomata, nude, exposed,
male prisoners, female nudity, and the image of the
nursing mom.
A chain of sportsmen with their sex organs covered, on
a group of Attic black-figure vases of the ending of the
sixth century B.C., has been often noted in discussions of Greek athletic nudity. These vases are
known as the "Perizoma Group," due to the white
loincloth worn by the bodies of athletes and dancers
the characteristic perizoma about their waistlines and
hips (fig. 7).122 That such vases were made specially

strangeness of this detail in a Greek context.126 An
Uncommon in the dress of the male bodies on the lower
register or of the women on the symposium scene
hired outside in the Greek way.127 It makes sense, then, to

think that coping with images expressly
chosen to please Etruscan customers who bought the
vases from Greek potters, and desired their decoration
to conform to their own customs.
Another odd characteristic of these vases, however, still
requires some explanation. These amounts, whether
athletes or dancers, are not young, as on Greek vases,
but heavy-set, mature bearded guys. Why would the
Etruscans prefer such amounts? Did they anticipate experienced performers, rather than gifted hobbyists? It is
hard to say. We still have much to learn about Etruscan customs and beliefs, as well as their ethnic and
commercial connections with the Greeks.
Our next example concerns another distinction between the Greek and Etruscan attitude to nudity. In
Etruscan artwork (where, as we've seen, Greek "heroic"
nudity was never wholly accepted) male nakedness
could still be used for magic apotropaic motives;'28 or
it could represent weakness and susceptibility.
Prisoners over the grave of Patroclus.
just two lines by Homer in the Iliad, it must have been
the matter of a monumental painting in Italy, for it
recurs on half a dozen Etruscan and South Italian
monuments of this interval.'29 We find a group of nude,
bound prisoners, vulnerable and helpless, their legs
cut and bleeding to keep them from escaping. The
It is
represented practically (assuming that a ghost
can be represented realistically), that's to say, he's
shown as a corpse, wearing bandages in the places
where he was wounded.
its pitiable state. At exactly the same time it is not only a
corpse, but a strong spirit, returning to demand that
blood be shed to satisfy him. Similar bandages are

worn by the ghost of Agamemnon in the Etruscan
Tomba dell'Orco in Tarquinia (where the hero's fullsize ghost comparisons with the tiny, screeching shades of
the dead clustering around a infertile, wintry tree),130
and they appear on a number of Apulian vase paintings.'31 This picture of the soul, still got in the
wounded flesh of the body, may have inspired Michelangelo's representation of the Pietai in the Florence
Cathedral, as well as the Boundary, or Dying Slaves.'32
In antiquity the custom of Greek "epic" nudity
was far from being universally accepted outside of
Greece, even as an artistic tradition. In Cyprus, and
in Italy, the perizoma (which men wore in life) was
still signified in the sixth century B.C. Even the
strong man Heracles wears his lion skin as a perizoma
on Etruscan bronzes and mirrors, rather than on his

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