seanjonesbw wrote: ↑
Wed Aug 14, 2019 10:43 pm
If I might borrow from the several examples of Finnish nudity you've offered up (I hope archive.org makes a copy of this thread for future generations) - given the knowledge that it is not seen as 'indecent' for students to run naked through the streets, and the knowledge that it's not indecent to be naked in front of girls under 7 in the context of a swimming pool, I don't think it's possible for a non-Finn to infer that nudity would
be indecent in front of visitors in the home. So we need more evidence - in your argument, Odysseus saying αἰδέομαι γὰρ γυμνοῦσθαι is the evidence that in this exceptional situation (away from the palace), a line has been crossed and his nakedness is indecent.
Of course running around naked is considered indecent. But it is rather mildly so, so it's just the sort of prank young people can do to feel united. I don't even know much this happens nowadays, I guess I need to ask because it's some time since I was a student myself... Maybe people are now playing Fortnite in student parties, for all I know.
But how then do we interpret Nausicaa telling her ἀμφίπολοι to engage in something indecent? Does she not know the standard of decency here? To come back to your Finnish example - if you accidentally walked out naked in front of your visitors, apologised on account of it being indecent, but then they offered to give you a bath, where should I (the non-Finn) draw the line of decency? Based on your apology or their offer?
I suppose you're joking. "But how then do we interpret Nausicaa telling her ἀμφίπολοι to engage in something indecent?" I don't think this is the right question. She is not asking them to engage something indecent. It's rather that the protagonists see the situation differently. Nausicaa overcomes her fears quickly and tries to act like a consummate host, but washing Odysseus personally in the wilderness would have been beneath her dignity, or at least she understandably feels so at the moment. The slave girls are much more timid than she is, and they're still wary of Odysseus, whom they still consider a filthy bum, and don't want to touch him. But there is no question of Odysseus' nakedness being indecent; it's just that he pretends
to scruple/to be embarrassed/ashamed/whatever, to save, according to the interpretation, either the slave girls or Nausicaa from an uncomfortable situation. It's possible for him say so with some credibility, because in any culture, there is much variation in what different people consider appropriate or inappropriate in different situations; to say things like "Odysseys can/can't possibly claim to be embarrassed when naked because neither was Telemachus when he was bathed", is bound to be an oversimplification.