What is the body? Opinions have differed dramatically, as the quotations above indicate. The body has been regarded as a tomb of the soul, a temple, a machine, and the self, and much more; and it has also been treated accordingly. Bodies may be caressed or indeed killed, they may be loved or hated, and thought beautiful or ugly, sacred or profane. Ideas about what the body is, what it means, its moral value and the values of its constituent parts, the limits of the body, its social utility and symbolic value, in sum, how the body is defined both physically and socially, vary widely from person to person, and have changed dramatically over time. The one word, body, may therefore signify very different realities and perceptions of reality. Our task here is to explore the range of these meanings, and to indicate how and why these meanings change.