It's always a thrill when something I've submitted to the Huffington Post actually gets posted because there's never a guarantee, even if they've approved your stuff before. My piece on ancient connections to modern workouts--"No Really, Crossfit Helped Me Understand Achilles"--was initially delayed because HuffPo insisted I supply citation for my claims about ancient funeral games.
Which, I have to admit, was kind of cool. I mean, I had to show my sources or they wouldn't run it. Who knew? With as much volume as they put out, It was reassuring to know that someone was checking every post for sources and citations.
My only disappointment was that they didn't include any visuals in the piece. Part of the challenge for them is finding royalty-free, public-domain art--or art they don't have to pay for--but I didn't think that was a problem with ancient artifacts. Perhaps the nudity was an issue?
Anyway, just to verify that there are plenty of options to choose from, I went on Wikemedia Commons, entered "ancient Greek athletes" and voila! It's raining naked men! Here are some of my favorites:
What's not shown on this ancient vase is that the athletes, especially runners, tied their willies down so they wouldn't flop around while they raced. Gary Corby writes amusingly about this in his latest novel, Sacred Games, set in the age of Pericles and during the Olympic Games. It's a great read--you should check it out.
Athletes were usually shown as nude because that is indeed how they trained and competed. Heroes such as Achilles and Ajax were also usually depicted as nude, even when in battle. One of the more interesting tidbits about ancient men's bits is that the Greeks often depicted the male member as quite small (relatively) and, sometimes, even infantile-looking.Apparently, this was by design. A large member was considered "vulgar" so beautiful athletes/men were often depicted with truly tiny bits.
I don't know what sport they're playing, but all I can think of is, "Whoa--watch out for that stick!"
This Hellenistic boxer resting after his match is a work of wonder. Aside from his beautifully rendered form, I find the leather boxing gloves fascinating, as well as his tired, but determined expression.
There are countless extraordinary images of ancient athletes that HuffPo could've used. But I really can't/shouldn't complain. After all, they posted a piece with the word "Achilles" in the title! Nothing but awesomeness there for those of us who love ancient history.