In classical antiquity, the muscle cuirass (Latin: lorica musculata), anatomical cuirass, or heroic cuirass is a type of cuirass made to fit the wearer's torso and designed to mimic an idealized male human physique. It first appears in late Archaic Greece and became widespread throughout the 5th and 4th centuries BC.
In Hellenistic and Roman times, the musculature of the male torso was idealized in the form of the muscle cuirass or "heroic cuirass" (in French the cuirasse esthétique) sometimes further embellished with symbolic representation in relief, familiar in the Augustus of Prima Porta and other heroic representations in official Roman sculpture.
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Although the heavy muscle cuirass would have afforded sturdy protection, in practical terms it might have been too cumbersome, not to mention cost prohibitive, for regular use by an infantryman. The main purpose of the highly figured cuirass was to impress, and it was likely reserved for military reviews and parades. The cuirasses were cast in two pieces, the front and the back, then hammered. They were a development from the early Archaic bell-shaped cuirass, weighing about 25 pounds. Examples from the 5th century have been found in the tombs of Thracians, whose cavalrymen wore them. The earliest surviving depiction in Greek sculpture seems to be an example on a sculptural warrior's torso found on the acropolis of Athens and dating around 470 – 460 BC. The muscle cuirass is also depicted on Attic red-figure pottery, which dates from around 530 BC and into the late 3rd century BC. From around 475 to 450 BC, the muscle cuirass is shorter, covering less of the abdomen, and more nipped...
The sculptural replicating of the human body in the muscle cuirass may be inspired by the concept of heroic nudity, and the development of the muscle cuirass has been linked to the idealized portraiture of the male body in Greek art. Kenneth Clark attributes the development of an idealized standard musculature, varied from the facts of nature, to Polykleitos:
Hellenistic rulersadded divine emblems such as thunderbolts to the shoulder flaps. Another conventional decoration is the gorgoneion, or Medusa's head, on the upper chest, and often vegetative motifs on the pectorals. One of the elements of iconography that identify the Greek Athena and the Roman Minerva, goddesses who embodied the strategic side of warfare, was a breastplate bearing a gorgoneion (see Aegis). Other deities, particularly the war gods Ares and Mars, could be portrayed with musc...
Among freestanding sculptures portraying Roman emperors, a common type shows the emperor wearing a highly ornamented muscle cuirass, often with a scene from mythology. Figures such as winged victories, enemies in defeat, and virtues personifiedrepresent the emperor as master of the world. Symbolic arrangements this elaborate never appear on Greek cuirasses. The cuirass on the famous Augustus of Prima Porta is particularly ornate. In the center, a Roman officer is about to receive a Roman mili...
Nio dou or dō, a Japanese cuirass embossed to resemble the emaciated torso of a starving monk or old man.
Cuirass, Greek or Italic, 4th century BCE - Higgins Armory Museum - DSC05575.JPG 3,240 × 4,320; 4.82 MB Greek bronze panoply in RMO AvL.JPG 3,264 × 4,928; 6.03 MB Hallstatt culture Kleinklein - muscle cuirasses & double ridge helmet.jpg 3,647 × 3,129; 3.75 MB
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The cuirass itself could be variously constructed: of plate-bronze (muscle cuirass), linothorax, scale, lamellar or mail. Pteruges could be arranged as a single row of longer strips or in two or more layers of shorter, overlapping lappets of graduated length.
A Greek hoplite with muscle cuirass, spear, shield, Corinthian helmet and sheathed sword. The poorest citizens, unable to afford the purchase or upkeep of military equipment, operated on the battlefield as psiloi or peltasts ; fast, mobile skirmishing troops.
The linothorax (pronounced / ˈ l iː n oʊ θ ɔː r æ k s /) (Greek: λινοθώρακας) is a type of upper body armor used by the ancient Macedonians.The modern term linothorax is based on the Greek λινοθώραξ, which means "wearing a breastplate of linen"; the actual ancient term for this type of armour is unclear.
Roman clothing took on symbolic meaning for later generations. Roman armour, particularly the muscle cuirass, has symbolized amazing power. In Europe during the Renaissance (15th and 16th centuries AD), painters and sculptors sometimes depicted rulers wearing pseudo-Roman military attire, including the cuirass, military cloak, and sandals.
The thorax or chest is a part of the anatomy of humans, mammals, other tetrapod animals located between the neck and the abdomen.   In insects , crustaceans , and the extinct trilobites , the thorax is one of the three main divisions of the creature's body, each of which is in turn composed of multiple segments.
Roman Neo-Attic stele depicting a warrior in a muscle cuirass, idealizing the male form without nudity Ancient Roman attitudes toward male nudity differed from those of the Greeks, whose ideal of masculine excellence was expressed by the nude male body in art and in such real-life venues as athletic contests.