Although the ancient Greeks did not have an anthropology as we know it, they did have an acute interest in human nature, especially questions of difference. What makes men different from women, slaves different from free men, barbarians different from Greeks? Are these differences visible in the body? How can they be classified and explained? Maria Michela Sassi reconstructs Greek attempts to answer such questions from Homer's day to late antiquity, ranging across physiognomy, ethnography, geography, medicine and astrology. Sassi demonstrates that in the Greek science of man, empirical observations were inextricably bound up with a prejudiced view of the free Greek male as superior to all others. Thus, because women were assumed to have pale skin from staying indoors too much, Greek biology and medicine sought to explain this feature as an indication of the "cold" nature of women, as opposed to the "hot" constitution of men. For this English translation, Sassi has rewritten the introduction and updated the text and references throughout, and Sir Geoffrey Lloyd has provided a new foreword.
Maria Michela Sassi teaches at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa, Italy. She is the author of "Le teorie della percezione in Democrito" and the translator and commentator of Plato's "Apologia di Socrate, Critone."