â€œThe full wonder of our complicated biology is only explored when our pheromones go into overdrive on exposure to another human being.â€™*
And, I have to add to this quote, certain art works.
I read an article on the BBC website recently about the Riace Bronzes. Pulled from the seas off the coast of Calabria in the south of Italy in 1972, the famous bronze statues are of two full size, naked and bearded Greek warriors. The bronzes, dated around fifth century BC, were probably being transported to one of the Greek colonial cities in Southern Italy when the boat may have struck a storm and the bronzes were thrown overboard in order to save the ship.
The Bronzes go by the names of Statue A and Statue B. Statue B appears to be the more mature of the two and both are finely detailed and beautifully proportioned and the BBC article the Calabrian Superintendent of Archaeology, Simonetta Bonomi, described them as “beautiful model(s) of masculinity. The creation of an ideal of the male body.” They are beautiful and after reading the article I had a closer look some more pictures of the bronzes. I decided I liked the look of Statue B best so I was interested to read the following snippet …
â€œThe Riace bronzes are … genuinely a popular cultural phenomenon. Early reports indicated aesthetic and sexual impact of the statues. Heterosexual women were said to be attracted to the figure in the more aggressive stance. Diamond (1997) hypothesizes that aggressive male characteristics have evolved such that these have become visual signals for females. In experiments, the statues are shown from behind (hiding facial features). Up to 86% of females prefer the assertive figure.**
Why is Statue B more aggressive? Their stances are fairly identical although Statue B has broader shoulders which may indicate a greater physical maturity, therefore more experience in being a warrior and thus more aggressiveness. Or maybe heâ€™s just a pushy guy, who knows?
Those Greek sculptors knew what they were doing though, if women are still responding to the figures millennia later. Having gone for pushy B first, Iâ€™m well and truly inside that 86% , just a slave to my wondrous human biology … Or maybe I’m still in the afterglow of one of the best books I’ve ever read set in the Ancient world, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller.
*Mariella Frostrupp, The Guardian
**The Riace bronzes: Evolutionary principles applied to popular visual aesthetics by Richard Ralley, Centre for Studies in the Social Sciences, Edge Hill, UK, (28th International Congress of Psychology August 8-13, 2004, Beijing, China)
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