Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/923532
- Marked bodies: divine, human, and bestial
- The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Education & Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science
- The means by which human bodies possess and perform divinity involve complex paradigms in discussion with the intellect, the spirit, and the body itself. From earliest times the ancients considered the concept of the divine/human nexus, sometimes poetically and thereby subconsciously, sometimes philosophically and thereby consciously. Today, armed with a bevy of theoretical tools with which to tease out and test these cultural tenets, viewpoints, beliefs, and doubts, we can reconsider the artifacts of antiquity, predominantly writing in the case of this analysis, to explore how humans related their bodies to the divinities that governed them and the degrees to which they viewed their own corporeal constituents as possessing godlike traits. If the Greeks and the Romans thought about themselves in relation to their gods (which they did), the inevitable association between humanity and the bestial arises. This all reflects an ancient tendency to view humankind as part of a universal scale, a hierarchy, with gods clearly at the top and animals clearly at the bottom. As intermediary beings, humans were not, however, all the same, and there was a sharp series of boundaries privileging theadult male citizen as distinct from lesser humans such as women, children, barbarians, and slaves. These ideas of binary opposites that defined the Greek and Roman male by corporeal differentiations between himself and other humans and that designated the degrees of connectivity between the gods and the bestial were expressed in thousands of ancient texts to varying levels dependent, of course, on textual preoccupations.
- A Cultural History of the Human Body, Volume 1: A Cultural History of the Human Body in Antiquity p. 185-215
- Resource Type
- book chapter