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White Men Were Never Made of Marble

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Sculptures are just sculptures.

The men who modeled for Greek statues were probably sunburnt, hairy, and scarred. 

How could anyone make it through the Spartan agōgē without shredded knuckles, a busted forehead, or a badly healed broken nose?

Our fathers didn’t have sunscreen, and I doubt the average man had the time to wash, tone and moisturize. The Greeks, the Romans, the Celts and the Norsemen had moles and freckles and the occasional zit. Their faces were dried by the winter wind and hardened in the summer heat.

They had calloused palms and dirty feet.

And how close could you shave your face with one of their knives?

To keep white skin pure, you have to protect it. You have to hide it. You have to be precious with it.

And what does a man look like who protects himself from sunshine, danger and exertion?

Not a Greek statue.

The protected man with perfectly white, unblemished skin is a marshmallow. And marshmallow men don’t look that great naked.

Many Ancient Greek men actually considered paleness to be a sign of effeminacy. Passive adult homosexuals were referred to as leukopygoi, or “white-arses.” [1]

The modern metrosexual fitness model is probably the closest thing to the toned, smooth marble ideal found in Greek sculpture, though most of them tan anyway. And, in the pursuit of that ideal Classical body they lose the whole point of having that body.They aren’t striving to be strong, hardy, healthy citizens, ready and able to defend the city-state. They aren’t trying to embody man’s physical potential or represent an ideal. They want to be looked at and adored and desired. They’re more like whores than warriors.

The body of the Classical man isn’t admirable because it is pretty. It remains a timeless ideal because the Classical body is the product of struggle, toil and pain. It is the product of courage and it is evidence of strength.

The perfect body of the Classical man is a Platonic form, but a statue is just a thing, and if it inspires reverence, it’s important to think about the virtues it was designed to represent.

Plato himself was a big, broad-backed wrestler.

I bet he had some pretty good scuffs and scars.

And if he did, I bet he was proud of them.


1. Eva Cantarella. Bisexuality in the Ancient World. Yale Nota Bene, 2002. Page 47.



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