Consider depiction of the human body during the Middle Ages (476 A.D.-1350 A.D.). Discuss a reason how and why they are so different from the Greco-Roman period.

Expert Answers
mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The rise of Christianity in Europe during the Middle Ages led to changing views of the human body.  Christianity, and more specifically Catholicism, emphasized modesty and chastity.  Most artistic depictions of the human body were clothed during this time.  An exception were depictions of Adam and Eve from Genesis.  Adam and Eve represented sin, and were depicted in the nude.  Many paintings and sculptures were of Biblical scenes.

The study of medicine and human anatomy during the Middle Ages was limited.  Dissection of dead bodies was forbidden by the Church, and was rarely done.  Study of the body was limited to outdated teachings and observations of a whole body.  Male doctors rarely assisted women in childbirth.  Female midwives helped to deliver babies in the Middle Ages.  They were usually the ones to provide any sort of medical care for women during the Middle Ages because of concerns about modesty.

During the Greco-Roman period, the human body was celebrated.  It was frequently depicted in art through nudity.  In sculptures, genitalia and chests of both genders were carved in detail.  Paintings also featured nude figures or people partially draped in cloth.

Medicine and the study of anatomy was important during the Greco-Roman period.  Dissection of human bodies was banned in Greece, so the live body was studied.  Views of the human body from a scientific approach advanced.  Despite this, male doctors rarely attended to the medical needs of women.  

Communal baths were common in the Greco-Roman world.  It was socially acceptable for people to bathe in the nude in communal settings.  By contrast, the devout Catholicism of the Middle Ages expected modesty.  Public nudity was generally considered sinful.

Christianity was the primary reason why the human body was depicted differently in the Middle Ages than it was during the Greco-Roman period.  Modesty was emphasized and nudity was often viewed as sinful during the Middle Ages.

 

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question