Friday, 7 December 2007

Friday 07/12/07

Right, this is Wednesday in Paris.  On Wednesday we decide that we must go to the Louvre.  That is pronounced Loo-Verr if you’re English of course. 

At the Loo-Verr there are glass pyramids outside and thousands of marvelous art exhibits from dozens of civilizations inside and generally a million things to see and do, so everyone just ignores all that and queues up to see the Mona Lisa.  Naturally this is what we also do, but in order to get there you have to first go through numerous other things, and what attracts my attention are the ancient Greek statues. 

There are many reasons why I’m attracted to that sort of thing (I’m sure having been brainwashed from ages 0 to 17 about the superiority of the ancient Greek civilization plays no some small part), but apart from that I’m very keen on them from a physiological point of view.  I want to see how those physiques compare to modern day people who go to the gym / play sport / work out.  So let’s have a look then. 

Exhibit A. Some Greek guy’s torso.

 

There isn’t much left to see from this guy, but what’s left is good.  Perfect pectoral muscle tone without being overdeveloped, good abdominal definition, obliques that can make any sane person cry, general leanness combined with good size.  It’s just too good really.  I feel so stupid right no for not actually taking a picture of the bum bum area, which frankly exceeds all expectations. 

Exhibit B.  Some Greek guy’s full body.

 

This could be exactly the same person, couldn’t it?  Fair enough, in this one I would personally like to see a bit more size in the quadriceps area, but maybe my ideal is spoilt by my idolization of rugby players.  Also, what we can conclude from examining Exhibits A and B, is that the ancient Greeks had a certain obsession with the side of the abdominal area (the obliques).  I really don’t know how you can achieve that look, apart from if you spend your formative years (ages 6 to 17) participating in international level decathlon events.  

Oh yeah, please note how both these statues (and the majority of all others actually), have smooth torsos.  And don’t tell me, err…how exactly are you going to sculpt chest hair, it IS possible. 

Exhibit C. Some Greek guy’s head.

 

Look at this boy’s face.  Look at his perfect symmetry, the straightness and size of his nose, the full but masculine lips, the empty but intense look.  If I could choose a face, this is the one I would go for.  He also has stubble/short beard, which I’m not sure comes across very well in the picture (makes him look like he has a big jaw in 2D) but he does and it’s great.  I’d have that too please. 

Now let’s look at a couple of Roman statues (and slag them off).  I realize that in the minds of many people these days, the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations are interchangeable.  Well apart from the fact that the Greeks predated the Romans by a few hundred years (it’s like confusing the Renaissance with World War I), this Wednesday at the Loo-VerrI come to realize that their statues were also crap. 

Exhibit D.  The God Mars (Roman sculpture)

 

This is a Roman statue of the God Mars.  Mars is the same person as the Greek God Ares, but when the Romans adopted the Greek Gods, they also changed their names (Aphrodite to Venus, Athena to Minerva, etc).  Anyway, we’re not here to bicker about this – just look at this guy’s body.  For fuck’s sake, they have given him a pot belly.  Yes, he does have well defined upper abs, but look at the part I’ve circled.  Mars looks like a Fire regular who took the wrong steroids, got bloated and doesn’t know what to do with that excess flab around the waist.  If this isn’t sacrilege, I don’t know what is. 

Exhibit E.  Some Roman guy’s head.

 

Do I even need to say anything?  Absurd hair, gawping eyes, pencil thin lips, what the fuck is going on with that nose?  This person would never have made it into a Greek statue. 

I don’t know if the ancient Greeks where actually so much better looking than the Romans (doubtful) or if they just eliminated the imperfections from their statues (a form of primitive airbrushing), but what can I say – either way good on them. 

Also as I personally appear to have more in common with the ancient Greeks as they appear in statue form anyway (straight nose, smooth body, leanness and tone) than modern Greeks (disproportionate hook noses, hairy to the nth degree, automatic fat belly when you hit 18) I like to think that somehow, I am one of few Greeks originating from Athens in 55BC and everyone else who lives in Greece now is a bastardization of all the civilizations that have occupied the country on and off over the last 2,000 years (Turks, etc).  So there. 

Oh yeah one final point on this ancient Greece thing - I wanted to share the fact that the word "gym" (short for gymnasium obviously) derives from the Greek word "gymnos", which means naked.  Because this is how they used to work out back then.  I don't know, maybe you'll find this exciting, personally I prefer people who are not completely naked.  They must wear a pair of shorts, a jockstrap, a loincloth, something.

Anyway, enough of that.  After the Louvre we walk down to the Notre Dame (Nottr-eh Dam for the Brits) and have the following pictures taken: 

Me taking a rest outside the Notre Dame

 

Me crawling to the Notre Dame to beg for forgiveness (please note tourist to my right who will have to step over me in 3 seconds' time)

 

Final day (plus THAT most offensive comment) tomorrow.

21 comments:

Jon C said...

Was forgiveness granted?

London Preppy said...

jon: For the comment? No, I just had a lot to write today and I need to dedicate a full length rant on that one ;-)

nylon said...

Hey! Great analysis of Greek vs. Roman statues, I couldn't agree more. Did you have a chance to see the Nike? My single favourite statue in the Louvre, the folds on her dress giving the sense of movement are amazing. Btw it's Notre Dame with an "e"! :)

Christopher said...

Some of the best examples of Greek sculpture, the Riacci Bronzes, are believed by many to be cast directly from moulds taken from model.

Being an ill-eductated pleb, I get bored of classical sculpture in large doses, but much more modern work by Bernini, and even later by Raffaele Monti, Matthew Wyatt & Canova are still powerful to 21st century eyes.

God I'm so so sad sometimes I shock myself.

Trybaby said...

Heheh, I love that you have no shame. Hey How did you manage to take those photos? Aren't there rules about not taking pictures?

Jim said...

Oh you tease! This is how you keep us coming back for more...

DAMO said...

hahahahahaa!
Yes!
In my opinion the Romans were to the ancient greeks what the Tesco value is the brand names.
Just a cheap watered lame rip off. lol


Shame that todays Greece is such a conservative country, nice though for a very quick trip, but I got scared.

tell us more about greeks, that was really interesting

London Preppy said...

nylon: Yeah I saw the Nike, I stalked all the famous Greek statues there. Cool, I misspelt Notre Dame - I'm proper British now!

trybaby: Well, there was no sign saying "don't spread yourself on the floor and crawl towards the Notre Dam" (I insist), so I did it

damo: I know - something definitely went wrong in those 2,000 years. I'd love to talk about Greece more, maybe I should pop in to the British Museum one day and take some pictures there. Apart from literary reviews, travel writing and gym reviews we can also have art time here on the blog!

Jon C said...

I was talking about your plea for forgiveness. :) Not the comment.

Trybaby said...

Heheh no I meant inside the museum, the louvre?

London Preppy said...

jon: Oh I see! Nah, it really is too late for me on so many accounts...

trybaby: Seemed like a free for all inside the Louvre!

Andre said...

I really enjoyed your analysis! There's this Greek statue (Laocoonte) in Rome which is my favourite and was wanking material after art class in high school..

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/17/Laocoon_Pio-Clementino_Inv1059-1064-1067.jpg/570px-Laocoon_Pio-Clementino_Inv1059-1064-1067.jpg

kim said...

"WHERE THE HELLENIC RACE HAS BEEN KEPT PURE"

In the 4th Century AD, the Jewish physician Adamantios, described what he called the "true Greek" – or where the “Hellenic race has been kept pure” as follows:

"Wherever the Hellenic race has been kept pure, we see proper tall men of fairly broad and straight build, neatly made, of fairly light skin and blond; the flesh is rather firm, the limbs straight, the extremities well made. The head is of middling size, and moves very easily; the neck is strong, the hair somewhat fair, and soft, and a little curly; the face is rectangular, the lips narrow, the nose straight, and the eyes bright, piercing, and full of light; for of all nations the Greek has the fairest eyes." [Günther (1927) 157.]


[insert witty comment here]

Rafa said...

If I wanted to go back far enough I can claim Greek lineage because part of my family originated in Sicily and Calabria, which were, you might know, part of the great Greek colony of Magna Grecia.

I read both today and yesterday's posts at the same time, lemme just say I got my ab workout for the day in from the laughing. The comment about modern Greeks having disproportionate hook noses and hairy to the max... that was just great. I always wonder the same myself, were these ancient Greek and Roman statues based off of an ideal or did many people really look like that back then? I mean you can probably figure all those flattering statues of emperors on top of chiseled physiques were done in flattery... speaking of which, Hadrian's lover Antinous, who was supposed to be oh-so-pretty, was Greek... from back when the Greeks had colonies in Asia Minor. So yeah lots of proud history. As a Modern Greek you dispel the myth of all Greek guys being hairy and hook nosed ;)

Shame though about the super conservativeness in Greece. I once read a diatribe by a modern Greek scholar who ranted on how pederasty in Ancient Greece was just BS made up by homo scholars who lived out their fantasies by propelling myths that didn't exist... I personally always found the thought of sexual liberation a sign that they were more advanced back then...

kim said...

You didn't run into while in Paris did you?

London Preppy said...

andre: Cool, I was scared you might have had something to say in defense of Roman sculptures (because I obviously just chose a couple of imperfect ones to make my point), but of course you know how blogs work and took everything humorously.

Meanwhile, I want THAT body in the link that you've sent please.

kim: I'd like to point out that kim has highlighted two words in his original comment, which doesn't come through once published. The words are tall and blonde. I presume that the point he wants to make is that I can't be one of the original Greeks because I'm neither of those things.

Well, 16 out of the 18 features described there still ain't bad. Plus as we all know I was born blonde, and because ancient people were shorter (the human race gets taller as years pass), I'm sure somebody standing at 5'8" would have been considered a giant in Athens back then. Ha.

rafa: In my expert opinion and examining your profile picture, I can confirm that you descend straight from classical Athens and the statues we see in museums. Well done.

kim said...

I was going to point out that those were the only attributes you'd missed out on, but there were too many; I couldn't count that high (I'm Australian, we don't know how to count past 6).

Raphael said...

Hey, I think I saw you in the louvre on that particular day.If I may proffer a pensee in defense of Roman statues: The Greek statues were ideal types, thus the similarity of features and the vacant look: there was nobody there. The romans started to take their cue from the rather disappointingly ugly reality and thus managed to create sculptures that have more presence but were much less `universally` beautiful.To assume then that the ancient Greeks looked like their statues is similar to deducing from an A&F catalogue what modern Americans must look like.
Mind you, there is nothing more uplifting than believing one`s ancestors to be beings of superhuman beauty, though personally (being a part of the diaspora myself) I find it quite tiring to hear people drone on about the virtues of the ancient greeks when our country nowadays is at the European periphery at best and of little or no consequence in the larger scheme of things. I blame it on our mothers, of course.

A wellwisher

Raphael said...

Hey, I think I saw you in the louvre on that particular day.If I may proffer a pensee in defense of Roman statues: The Greek statues were ideal types, thus the similarity of features and the vacant look: there was nobody there. The romans started to take their cue from the rather disappointingly ugly reality and thus managed to create sculptures that have more presence but were much less `universally` beautiful.To assume then that the ancient Greeks looked like their statues is similar to deducing from an A&F catalogue what modern Americans must look like.
Mind you, there is nothing more uplifting than believing one`s ancestors to be beings of superhuman beauty, though personally (being a somewhat reluctant part of the diaspora myself) I find it quite tiring to hear people drone on about the virtues of the ancient greeks or romans when these countries nowadays are at the European periphery at best and of little or no consequence in the larger scheme of things. I blame it on our mothers, of course.

A wellwisher

London Preppy said...

raphael: You were there? That's very cool. Where do you think you saw me - what was I doing, was I taking any statue pictures then??

Raphael said...

I think it was in the Denon wing. I only recognized you retrospectively of course, when I saw the pictures on the blog. Probably the Cardigan that did it ;-)