Inspired by acommentfrom Dan over atXark, I decided that I should write an entry on underwear and ancient Greek myth. From time to time students ask me questions like, “What didAphrodite wear?” I usually just refer them to vase paintings, but when I sat down and thought about it, I realized how little I know about ancient Greek garb. I am fairly confident that it didn’t look like what they dressedAlexandra Tydingsin onXena: Warrior Princess(even though I can’t resist posting that photo of her!), but was the idea of lingerie something an ancient Greek - perhaps an ancient Greek prostitute - would have understood?
What about your garden variety briefs?Sue Blundellsays that ancient Greek women wore woolen rags when they were menstruating, but how would that have looked? What about underwear during pregnancy when incontinence might be an issue.
Ancient Roman women appear to have used leather bras and (wool?) briefs at least in some scenarios, but would the concept of clothes under clothes have been something the ancient Greeks understood? I think this is particularly interesting given that Greek women were not isolated or considered unclean while they were menstruating (unlike in many other parts of the Mediterranean and the world). In fact, as usual, our only discussion of menstruation comes from interested ancient Greek physicians who were drawing conclusions about women’s health. They don’t bother to identify whether their patients have to strip off something for examination.