The Body in Ancient Greece
July 14, 2015 6:06 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone point me to some interesting readings, online or off, about the ancient Greek philosophy of the body and the understanding of physicality in general?

I know they emphasized the gymnasium and a fit body. But where did that idea come from? Was it purely utilitarian?

I'm especially interested in how they understood the relationship between the body and the mind, and if they conceived of any "somatic" practices to develop that relationship, as in the East, with yoga, say, or certain martial arts.

Obviously I don't know much and my Google-fu is failing me so any references or clues are welcome. Thanks!
posted by vecchio to Religion & Philosophy (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
A few interesting paragraphs with some good leads can be found in Garland's Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:38 PM on July 14, 2015

You could also look into the works of Galen, Hippocrates and that other bloke whose name I forget, I'm sure they had something to say on the subject. Probably Lucretius talks about it in his On The Nature Of Things too.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:40 PM on July 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Google Scholar turns up a number of sources that might be relevant: "Body and Mind in Ancient Greece", Bodily Arts: Rhetoric and Athletics in Ancient Greece, "Sexuality and the Body in Ancient Greece", etc.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:47 PM on July 14, 2015

The works of Hippocrates would be a great lens through which to examine the Greek idea of the body seeing as he was a physician.
posted by Hermione Granger at 7:12 PM on July 14, 2015

Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens does a good job of discussing the physical vices of the Greeks, in the light of rationality, moderation, and so on.

This is not what you're asking for but it may be what you're looking for.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:40 PM on July 14, 2015

re relation between body and mind, Republic II-IV is full of emphasis on the fact that the guardians must have a finely tuned balance of phsyical and mental training (math, music, gymnastics). Too much physical training and they become coarse and tough; too much mental training and they become soft and incapable.
posted by pdq at 8:45 PM on July 14, 2015

Best answer: The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece traces the development of the concept of the body in relation to the person and the soul from Homer through Euripides. These reviews summarize some of the arguments and may help you get an idea of whether it's what your looking for.
posted by earth by april at 6:02 AM on July 15, 2015

Response by poster: These are perfect, especially the last one. Thanks all!
posted by vecchio at 6:31 AM on July 15, 2015

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