Long Live the Greek…Physique

I do recognize I’m exhibiting a teeny bit of obsession with the male physique lately. It’s not intentional. The movie 300 has sparked a gazillion articles about the terrific state of Gerard Butler’s abs, the costumes, the training, the diets, the mentality behind the movie, and, of course, the Greeks. I can’t help but be drawn to articles online about this stuff, partly because of my interest in the movie and the grand physicality of it, partly because, well, the last time Greeks got some of the spotlight was the Olympics, before that, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and before that, um, Zorba the Greek?

Greeks are a mysterious lot. With our weird alphabet, funky Orthodox rituals, and holier-than-thou attitudes (come on…that’s the one thing Grecian Greeks, American Greeks, and pretty much Greeks the world over have in common…we can’t stand anyone else, and can’t stand ourselves either!), it’s not surprising that most people don’t know much about Greeks except that we like to cook, eat, and party. Thus, I am always fascinated by the non-Greek take on Greeks and Greek culture.

I was perusing The New York Times recently, and somehow ended up on the article referenced below, which is timely given the hysteria surrounding the bodies in 300:

Muscle Man
By HORACIO SILVA
Published: March 11, 2007
After seasons of skinny-nerd ubiquity, the heroic hard bods suggest that the Greeks may soon be beating up on the geeks.

In the article, Silva credits photographer Herb Ritts with reviving “…masculine glamour…[through] images of modern-day Adonises, whose hypertonic physiques—Apollonian articulation made flesh—he adoringly mythologized.” In plain English, Ritts made lots of money in the ’80s shooting classically gorgeous, superbly muscled, naked men—artfully, of course. Apparently, designers and filmmakers are resuscitating the manly man again in 2007. (Amen to that. Please leave the crying and softness to the girls, will ya?)

It’s very interesting that the hot male bod, even if not originated by the Greeks, has been attributed to ancient Greeks since Adonis. According to Wikipedia, “In modern parlance the name ‘Adonis’ is frequently used as an allusion to an extremely attractive, youthful male, often with a connotation of deserved vanity: ‘the office Adonis’.” It’s true that the buff young hottie is often referred to as a “Greek god”—no other nationality has been associated with classical male beauty like the Greeks. And one never sees a fat Grecian marble (statue), do they?

Makes sense, I suppose. Back then the Greeks were building breathtaking palaces, chiseling marble, tending to their land and animals, and philosophizing a little on the side. We were a thriving, pulsating people. Hard work makes hard bodies. Hard work makes men. It’s only been the last 2,999 years that we’ve been resting on our laurels, right? At least we got it right in the beginning.

It’s just so refreshing to see the media turning back toward the man’s man archetype, muscles and all. I think half of what is killing our marriages and families is simple gender confusion. Men are turning into women and women are turning into men. It’s crazy.

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