Tawdry Tuesday: An Erectile Dysfunction Epigram From Ancient Greece (NSFW)

From the Greek Anthology, 11.29 (Automedon)

“Send, Call for her—everything is ready for you. But when she arrives,
What will you do? Give that some thought, Automedon.
For this, which was tireless before, is now squishier than
A boiled carrot and it has retreated back between your thighs.
They will laugh at you a lot when you set out unarmed
Trying to sail your ship without an oar.”

Πέμπε, κάλει· πάντ’ ἐστὶν ἕτοιμά σοι. ἢν δέ τις ἔλθῃ,
τί πρήξεις; σαυτῷ δὸς λόγον, Αὐτόμεδον.
αὕτη γὰρ λαχάνου σαθρωτέρη ἡ πρὶν ἀκαμπὴς
ζῶσα νεκρὰ μηρῶν πᾶσα δέδυκεν ἔσω.
πόλλ’ ἐπὶ σοὶ γελάσουσιν, ἀνάρμενος ἂν παραβάλλῃ
πλώειν τὴν κώπην μηκέτ’ ἔχων ἐρέτου.

I named this picture “small bronze”, because it is a small picture of a bronze statue

I don’t know of many erectile dysfunction poems from the Ancient World. A reader emailed me reference to another [Warning: it gets pretty bad after this.]

Straton, 12.240

“The hair is already gray on my temples
And my dick hangs slack between my thighs.
My balls are useless: age overcomes me hard.
Alas, I know how to fuck but I can’t.”

῎Ηδη μοι πολιαὶ μὲν ἐπὶ κροτάφοισιν ἔθειραι,
καὶ πέος ἐν μηροῖς ἀργὸν ἀποκρέμαται·
ὄρχεις δ’ ἄπρηκτοι, χαλεπὸν δέ με γῆρας ἱκάνει.
οἴμοι, πυγίζειν οἶδα καὶ οὐ δύναμαι.

πυγίζειν: I have selected the generally vulgar “fuck” for this verb which is likely a denominative from πυγή (variously, “ass”, “anus”, “buttocks”). The loeb translates this as “sodomize”, which is probably more to the point but misses the inventiveness (“analize” might work).
Here is a perfectly wretched poem by the same author, using some of the same words.


“All the unthinking animals fuck only; those who think
Have something more than the rest of the animals in this:
We discovered ass-fucking. All the men who are ruled by women
Have nothing more than the rest of the living beasts.”

Πᾶν ἄλογον ζῷον βινεῖ μόνον· οἱ λογικοὶ δὲ
τῶν ἄλλων ζῴων τοῦτ’ ἔχομεν τὸ πλέον
πυγίζειν εὑρόντες. ὅσοι δὲ γυναιξὶ κρατοῦνται,
τῶν ἀλόγων ζῴων οὐδὲν ἔχουσι πλέον.

2 thoughts on “Tawdry Tuesday: An Erectile Dysfunction Epigram From Ancient Greece (NSFW)

  1. Love it! If you’re looking for more erectile disfunction poems (because who isn’t?!), check our Ovid Am. 3.7, and (my personal favorite) Horace Ep. 8 (which is quite subtle, but also refers to being ‘unmanned’: “rogare…viris quid enervet meas”)

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