Athletic Beauty in Classical Greece: A Philosophical View

Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 39 (2):281-297 (2012)
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Classical Greece is famous for its athletic art, particularly the image of the nude male athlete. But how did the Greeks understand athletic beauty? Plato, Aristotle, Xenophon, and others discuss athletes’ beauty, while the educational ideal of kalokagathia conceptually connects athletic beauty with the good. More questions need to be answered, however, if we are to understand ancient athletic beauty. We need to ask ourselves what the Greeks appreciated when they looked at athletic bodies. What did those qualities mean to them? In what way was it erotic? How did it differ for females and males? In this paper I argue that the beautiful athletic body is framed in ancient Greek thought, not just as an aesthetically pleasing image, but as an ideal expression of a certain kind of soul.



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Heather Reid
Exedra Mediterranean Center, Siracusa, Sicily

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