How does that Shakespeare quote go again? “What’s in a name…would a nipple by any other name still be…um…nipply?”
(Yeah, Yeah…most abject apologies to the bard and all…)
I was complaining to friends on Friday that I was beyond bored and Armitageworld was silent as a crypt with everyone occupied a la Crucible. Then Saturday happened…Nipplegate Saturday (like Fat Tuesday and Black Friday!) The resounding swell of spoofing does my satirical self good. Far be it from me to let an opportunity pass me by, so I bring you a brief chronological survey of some ancient Greco-Roman nippleage? Nipplage?
Late Bronze Age Nipples (2000-1200 BC)
The painted plaster is damaged, but you can still make them out if you look closely…but then again, who notices nipples with that amazing hat?! Too subtle? This next image is one that I use in every survey class I teach:
No class, it’s not her bared breasts or her nipples…it’s the SNAKES people – and maybe the bird perched on her head…and her pomegranate wreath fertility hat. Nipples? Totally mundane here.
Archaic Nipples (750-490 BC)
(there are no Iron Age Nipples…I’ve looked everywhere, but since there is no figured art in Greece from 1100 – 800, alas, no nips)
Originally a grave marker, I have to admit that Kroisos is much more renowned for his thunderous thighs than his rather petite nipples.
My avatar dates to roughly this same period…lo and behold – Nipples!
TRANSITIONAL NIPPLES (~480BC)
Yep he has nipples, but he’s much more important because he is sculpted in a style that clearly marks the transition from the late Archaic to the Early Classical – or Severe Style.
High Classical Nipples (480-400 BC)
The sculptural program of the Athenian Parthenon is considered the epitome of the High Classical Style…yet nipples, human and semi human, abound!
Hellenistic Baroque Nipples (300-30 BC)
Considering that this rendition of Hercules is well over life sized, those are some super huge Hellenistic hero nipples!
Even the Roman’s got into the Nipple Act Nipples
In this, most likely posthumous, depiction of the Augustus, the divine emperor is shown in military garb with an elaborately detailed cuirass or breastplate. The scene on it depicts the diplomatic high point of his long career – The Return of the Parthian Standards. Right above that? Fake nipples to go along with the fake navel which serve to model the natural male form on the cuirass. Here’s the thing. They’re nipples. All mammals have them, and occasionally they peek out of a costume through the deliberate design of the costume designer.
No one will convince me that this particular hole placement was not deliberate and was not designed to produce a particular effect. Frankly, human chests look a little odd without nipples…kind of like faces without eyebrows. In this particular case, with this particular actor, people were intended to notice…intended to react, and it’s neither criminal nor a mark of depravity to do so. People have been noticing the nipples on classical sculpture for centuries, so I’m fairly certain that I have not degraded hundreds of years of classical scholarship by pertly pointing them out here. I am equally certain that the reality of fans noticing, with appreciation, a nipple revealed by a costume gap, has by no means denigrated or desecrated their appreciation of the artist or the gravity of the work he produced. Class dismissed.