[lit-ideas] Re: Glory [Greek stature]

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 05 Dec 2007 18:33:46 -0800

Andreas Ramos wrote:

Professors in the Classics are the wrong ones to ask. That's like asking the Hollywood Reporter.

Well, hardly. Classics and archaeology (which latter would sometimes include forensic anthropology) are now much more closely related than this suggests, although I suppose at one time classics meant 'classical studiess,' i.e., the study of the classics—closer to philology than to anthropology.

What about height of doorways? Body armor? Sandals? There must be Greek items that indicate the size of the wearers.

Yes, one would have thought that there would be plenty of information about such things, but I can't find it online. Google shouldn't care whether it gives me results from archaeology rather than art history, e.g. As far as I know the Greeks did not use full body armor à la Sir Galahad and that bunch. The suits of armor preserved in British and European museums are extremely small.

The information is known. We just have to figure out where to find it.

Here is a paper on the height of humans for the last 2,000 years: http://ancienthistory.about.com/b/2004/01/21/how-tall-were-the-ancients.htm

That only takes us back to some time in the 1st century, four or five-hundred years after 'classical Greece' and at least several thousand years before 'Homeric' times. As we don't know when, where or if the siege of Troy described in the Iliad actually took place, it may be futile to try to determine Achille's stature, e.g. I'd settle for knowing how tall a 'typical' Athenian or Spartan was around 480 BCE. Taller than Tom Cruise, surely.

Robert Paul

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