Writing the History of Fatness and Thinness in Graeco-Roman Antiquity

Christian Laes

Abstract


Fatness and thinness has been a much underexploited topic in the study of classical Antiquity. After carefully analyzing the Greek and Roman vocabulary to denote the matter, I catalogue information on concrete instances of persons who were considered to have suffered from overweight, or emaciation. On a second level, I deal with popular mentality regarding overweight or thinness. Thirdly, medical and/or philosophical theory regarding weight problems are studied. In this, the moral discourse linking obesity with gluttony or weakness and avarice with underweight will be studied. I will also ask whether changed Christian attitudes towards the body and bodily functions lead to new concepts regarding the matter. For these different levels of questions, I take into account concepts of disability history, asking whether the obviously impairing factors of excess weight or the opposite of it lead to social disfunctionality, hindering people from important social functions and subjecting them to social stigma.

 

Key words: Fatness - Thinness - Graeco-Roman antiquity


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