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17 1 Soul and Body React on Each Other Body and Character in Greek and Roman Literature In the ancient Greek and Roman world it was commonplace to associate outer physical characteristics with inner qualities. The study of the relationship between the physical and the moral was known as physiognomics and was widely practiced in late antiquity by philosophers , astrologers, and physicians. Elizabeth Evans has convincingly demonstrated that from Homer through at least the third century CE, physical descriptions of characters in epic, history, drama, and fiction, as well as in medical writings,were used by writers to explain the character’s actions.The physiognomic consciousness that developed permeated the Greco-Roman thought world. . Elizabeth Evans “Physiognomics in the Ancient World, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society 59, part 5 (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1969). Evans’s argument for a pervasive “physiognomic consciousness” was originally resisted by classicists but recently has received confirmation in a variety of writings on ancient drama, theater, and art: see G. Raina, “Il verosimile in Menandro e nella Fisiognomica,”in Il meraviglioso e il verosimile tra antichità e medioevo,ed.D.Lanza and O.Longo (Florence: L.S.Olschki,1989),173–85; G.Krien,“Der Ausdruck der antikenTheatermasken nach Angaben im Pollux-Katalog und in der pseudo-aristotelischen ‘Physiognomik,’   ” Jahreshefte des Parsons_LukeActs_JDE_djm.indd 17 9/15/06 1:27:19 PM 18 Body and Character in Luke and Acts The Origins of Physiognomy The origins of the “science”of physiognomy are obscure.Some recognize the philosopher Pythagoras as the inventor of physiognomy (Hippolytus , Haer. 1.2; Porphyry, Vita Pyth. 13; Iamblichus, Vit. Pyth. 17). Aulus Gellius, a second-century CE writer who followed this tradition, describes the admissions examination administered by Pythagoras for entrance into his school: It is said that the order and method followed by Pythagoras,and afterwards by his school and his successors in admitting and training their pupils were as follows: At the very outset he “physiognomized” the young men who presented themselves for instruction. That word means to inquire into the character and dispositions of men by an inference drawn from their facial appearance and expression, and from the form and bearing of their whole body.Then, when he had thus examined a man and found him suitable, he at once gave orders that he should be admitted to the school. (Noct. Att. 1.9) Galen, on the other hand, credited his “master” Hippocrates with founding the science of physiognomy (Anim. mor. 7; cf. Kühn, 4, 797– 98). Indeed, the first occurrence of the verb φυσιογνωµονέω is found in Hippocrates’ Epidemics, and that treatise contains several instances of physiognomic thinking. For example, Hippocrates wrote, “Those with a large head, large black eyes and a wide, snub nose are honest” (Epid. 2.6.1; cf. 2.5.1; 2.5.16; 2.6.14, 19; 6.4.19). Zopyrus (fifth century BCE) is one of the first persons known to have been a practitioner of the art of physiognomy.He purportedly diagnosed Socrates as stupid and fond of women. Cicero reports,“Do we not read how Socrates was stigmatized by the ‘physiognomist’ Zopyrus, who professed to discover men’s entire characters from their body, eyes, face and brow? He said that Socrates was stupid and thick-witted because he had not got hollows in the neck above the collarbone—he used to say that these portions of his anatomy were blocked and stopped up; he also Österreichischen Archäologischen Instituts in Wien (1955): 84–117; B. Kiilerich, “Physiognomics and the Iconography of Alexander,” Symbolae Osloenses 63 (1988): 5–28. . See Elizabeth Evans, “Descriptions of Personal Appearance in Roman History and Biography,” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 46 (1935): 47. . Unless otherwise noted, English versions of classical texts are from the Loeb Classical Library editions. Regarding entrance examinations, see R. A. Pack, “Physiognomical Entrance Examinations,” Classical Journal, 31 (1935): 42–43. Parsons_LukeActs_JDE_djm.indd 18 9/15/06 1:27:19 PM 19 Soul and Body React on Each Other added that he was addicted to women—at which Alcibiades is said to have given a loud guffaw”(Fat. 5.10).Thus one of the earliest recorded attempts at physiognomy was met with ridicule because the reading did not match what Socrates’ followers knew to be true of their leader. Elsewhere, however, Cicero notes that Socrates came to the defense of Zopyrus:“when he [Zopyrus] was ridiculed by the rest who said they failed to recognize such vices in Socrates, Socrates himself came...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781602584433
Related ISBN
9781602583801
MARC Record
OCLC
769189752
Pages
192
Launched on MUSE
2012-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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