Friday, June 03, 2016


How You Walk

Simon Goldhill, Who Needs Greek? Contests in the Cultural History of Hellenism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002; rpt. 2003), p. 83:
How you walk is a repeated topic of commentary by Lucian. You should hope to 'walk like a man' (which is linked to a body bronzed by the sun, a masculine glint in the eye, an alert appearance).82 You don't want to walk 'with an unsteady shimmy' (which is linked to a floppy neck, a woman's glance, a soft voice, the smell of perfume, scratching your head with one finger, and carefully coiffed curls).83 The figure of Blame in one of Lucian's divine comedies attacks even the god Dionysus for his 'walk': 'you all know how female and girly he is in his nature ... '84 In particular, however, it is philosophers who seem to have a specially noticeable style of walking (which you may think harder to spot these days around the university or on the street). Thrasycles' walk is 'orderly' (eye-brows high, fierce gaze, elegant turn out);85 Diogenes' walk matches his intense expression.86 The uncultured book-buyer is mocked for imitating the walk of a philosopher;87 and a string of philosophers are immediately distinctive because of their gait. The longest description of what 'the walk' should be like is this:
I saw them walking in an orderly fashion, decently dressed, always in thought, masculine, mostly with close-cropped hair nothing degenerate, none of that hyper-indifference which marks the simply mad Cynic, but of middling constitution, which everyone says is best.88
82 41.9.
83 41.11.
84 52.4.
85 25.54.
86 27.10.
87 31.21.
88 70.18.
See also Jan Bremer, "Walking, Standing and Sitting in Ancient Greek Culture," in Jan Bremmer and Herman Roodenburg, edd., A Cultural History of Gesture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991), pp. 15-35 (at 16-23).

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