Before Lady Guenivere -- before Salome even -- there was Phryne. She was a legendary beauty, but she has always been even more widely known (to our great-grandparents anyway; we don't study classical history like we once did) as the most famous female criminal defendant -- with the most stunning defense ever displayed in a judicial assembly -- of all time.
Phryne lived in Athens 2,400 years ago. The famous courtesan ("prostitute" seems so crude) was the woman of women, the perfected type, and on one occasion it is said that she displayed her nude body at the foot of the Acropolis to tremendous applause.
While there was no Athens League Against Public Licentiousness to cramp her style, Phryne still managed to run afoul of religious authorities. She was put on trial for heresy, for profaning the Eleusinian mysteries, for introducing false gods, a conviction that would carry with it the law's ultimate penalty. Her trial did not go well for her, and when it became apparent that Phryne would lose her case and her life, she decided to display to the assembly of elderly male judges her best defense. Her attorney pulled off her robe and showed the judges her beauty bare. They were so moved by the sight that they acquitted her.
Since then, Phryne has been the inspiration for countless artists; the legend of her physical form still survives in oil and marble today. Botticelli has painted her, and she was rumored to be the inspiration for the most famous sculpture of Venus. In more literate times, her name was a euphemism for nudity (one could be said to pose "as Phryne before the elders") and occasionally as a favored name for baby girls and ships.
In 1910, a French historian decided to take a hard look at the legend of Phryne, and in a famous lecture, the historian concluded that while Phryne was a real person and her trial a real event, she probably did not disrobe before the judges as legend had it. He gave two reasons for this conclusion: one, the ancient Greek texts indicated that criminal defendants at the time customarily appeared before each judge individually and did not appear before them as a body (if you will). Second, he said, the biographical information available on Phryne showed that she was 37 at the time of her trial. This, he surmised, was far too advanced an age for a woman to impress anyone with her physical form.
To borrow a phrase, I resemble that remark!
For more information about Phryne's life see Remembering Phryne - Loving Thais by Paul Monk.