The starting point comprises a series of case studies of less than perfect bodies: bodies that are misshapen, stigmatized, fragmented, as well as hybrid human/animal creatures, transgendered persons, and bodies on the cultural periphery of the classical world. These examples represent deviations from the »normal« order of things and evoke feelings of alienation. One strategy for dealing with this is to canonize transgression in visual form. Fluid bodies are captured in the image, creating a visual order in disorder. The body-as-ruin is a fixed figure of fluidity and thus receptive to attributions of meaning, which helps explain its persistence as a cultural trope. It allows for the observation of cultural change.