Latest Issue

Mary Beard: How our western body image tyranny began with the ancient Greeks

Just as Ancient Greek art held up an impossibly ideal image of beauty, so we in the modern world grapple with the idealised images of advertising and the movies

By Mary Beard   March 2018

Draw me like one of your ancient Greeks

In Villahermosa in southern Mexico—in an archaeological park that is disconcertingly paired with a zoo—stands a colossal severed head. It is a couple of metres high and made from basalt, one of seventeen or so such heads produced some 3,000 years ago by the earliest known civilisation in central America. We now call this civilisation “the Olmec,” but the name dates from the Aztec period, a millennium or more later. What they called themselves we have no clue.

What the heads…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect