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p808 Nudus

Article by James Yates, M.A., F.R.S.,
on p808 of

William Smith, D.C.L., LL.D.:
A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities, John Murray, London, 1875.


[image ALT: A man in a loose shift tied at the waist, plowing a field with a team of two cows.]
	NUDUS (γύμνος). These words, besides denoting absolute nakedness, which was to be ἀναμπέχονος καὶ ἀχίτων (compare Moschus, IV.98), were applied to anyone who, being without an Amictus, wore only his tunic or indutus (Aristoph. Eccles. 409; John xxi.7).a In this state of nudity, the ancients performed the operations of ploughing, sowing, and reaping (Hes. Op. et Dies, 391; Proclus ad loc.; Virg. Georg. I.299; Servius ad loc.; Aelian, V.H. VI.11, XIII.27; Matt. xxiv.18). Thus Cincinnatus was found naked at the plough when he was called to be dictator, and sent for his toga, that he might appear before the senate (Plin. H. N. XVIII.4; Aur. Vict. de Vir. Illust. 17; Liv. III.26). The accompanying woodcut is taken from an antique gem in the Florentine Collection, and shows a man ploughing in his tunic only. The light and thin clothing of Hetaerae, was denoted by the use of the same epithets (Athen. XIII.24, 25). [Coa Vestis]

This term applied to the warrior expressed the absence of some part of his armour (Hom. Il. XXI.50; Jos. Ant. Jud. VI.2 §2; Gell. IX.13; Xen. de Rep. Lac. XI.9). Hence the light-armed were called γυμνῆτες.


Thayer's Note:

a In the late twilight of Antiquity, we find the Christian bishop Isidore of Seville writing of subcinctoria — loincloths — and going on:

At first the first mortals made them for themselves from the leaves of trees, since after the first lie, they blushed at their genitals and covered them. The use of them some barbarian peoples retain to our own days when they are naked (nudae). They are also called campestria [singular: campestre], from the fact that they are what young men, exercising naked (nudi) on the athletic field (campus), use to cover their genitals.

(Orig. XIX.22.5, my translation)

He makes the point again, more briefly, in XVIII.18.2.


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Page updated: 29 Sep 12