Flaying the Flayed Dog

Aristophanes, Lysistrata, 156-8

Kalonikê: But what if our husbands leave us?
Lysistrata: To use Pherecrates’ term: flay the flayed dog.
Kalonikê: These words of nonsense are just counterfeit [sex].

ΚΛ. Τί δ’, ἢν ἀφιῶσ’ ἅνδρες ἡμᾶς, ὦ μέλε;
ΛΥ. Τὸ τοῦ Φερεκράτους, κύνα δέρειν δεδαρμένην.
ΚΛ. Φλυαρία ταῦτ’ ἐστὶ τὰ μεμιμημένα.


“The word of Pherecrates: if our husbands despise us, then it is necessary to use dildos and to flog the flogged shaft. Pherecrates said this in a drama where the proverb is applied to those who are suffering something else in addition to what they have suffered.

(τὸ τοῦ Φερεκράτους: ᾿Εὰν ἡμᾶς παρίδωσιν οἱ ἄνδρες, τότε πάλιν ἐξέσται ὀλίσβοις χρήσασθαι, καὶ ἀποδέρειν τὰ ἀποδεδαρμένα σκύτη. Φερεκράτης ἐν δράματι εἶπε τοῦτο, ἔνθεν τάσσεται ἡ παροιμία ἐπὶ τῶν ἄλλο πασχόντων αὖθις ἐφ’ οἷς πεπόνθασιν.)

“to flay the dog”: this is an image for intemperate genitals. It is not found in the Saved [play] of the comic Pherecrates.

κύνα δέρειν: Σχῆμά ἐστιν ἀκόλαστον εἰς τὸ αἰδοῖον. ἐν δὲ τοῖς σωζομένοις (Φερεκράτους) τοῦ κωμικοῦ τοῦτο οὐχ εὑρίσκεται.

ta memimêmena: “Since they use a dildo instead of a penis. For she says that the words of others are nonsense”

τὰ μεμιμημένα: ᾿Επεὶ τῷ ὀλίσβῳ χρῶνται ἀντὶ τοῦ αἰδοίου. φλυαρία φησὶ τὰ ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων.

From the Suda

Olisbos: Genitals made from leather which the Milesian women used to use as tribades(!) and shameful people do. Widowed women also use them. Aristophanes writes “I did not see an eight-fingered dildo*/ which might be our leathered aid.”** This second part is drawn from the proverb “fig-wood aid” applied to weak people.

῎Ολισβος: αἰδοῖον δερμάτινον, ᾧ ἐχρῶντο αἱ Μιλήσιαι γυναῖκες, ὡς τριβάδες καὶ αἰσχρουργοί· ἐχρῶντο δὲ αὐτοῖς καὶ αἱ χῆραι γυναῖκες. ᾿Αριστοφάνης· οὐκ εἶδον οὐδ’ ὄλισβον ὀκταδάκτυλον, ὃς ἂν ἡμῖν σκυτίνη ‘πικουρία. παρὰ τὴν παροιμίαν, συκίνη ἐπικουρία. ἐπὶ τῶν ἀσθενῶν.

Image result for Ancient Greek Dildo vase
vers 490 av.JC, ancienne collection Dutuit, Petit-Palais, Musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris.

Another proverb from the Suda, s.v. misêtê:

“And Kratinus said somewhere: “hated women use dildoes.”

καὶ ὁ Κρατῖνός που τοῦτο ἔφη: μισῆται δὲ γυναῖκες ὀλίσβωσι χρήσονται

(!) tribades: see the Suda again s.v. Hetairistai:

“Courtesanizers: The women who are called ‘rubbers’” [or ‘grinders’? i.e. Lesbians] Ἑταιρίστριαι: αἱ καλούμεναι τριβάδες. See also Hesychius s.v. dietaristriai: “Women who rub themselves against girls in intercourse the way men do. For example, tribades.”

διεταρίστριαι· γυναῖκες αἱ τετραμμέναι πρὸς τὰς ἑταίρας ἐπὶ συνουσίᾳ, ὡς οἱ ἄνδρες. οἷον τριβάδες (Plat. conv. 191 e).

*this is not an eight-shafted instrument but may instead point to the instrument’s length (c. six inches) . See the note on the Suda-online.

**Lysistrata 109-110.

The Lexicographer Photius repeats only the following definition:

Olisboi: Leather dicks

῎Ολισβοι: δερμάτινα αἰδοῖα.

The Scholia to Aristophanes’ Lysistrata 109-110 basically presents the same information:

Olisbon: A leather penis. And that is for the Milesian women. He is joking that they use dildos. The next part, “leathery aid” plays upon the proverb “fig-tree aid”, used for the weak. He has changed it to “leathery” because dildos are made of leather. They are leather-made penises which widowed women use.”

ὄλισβον: Αἰδοῖον δερμάτινον. καὶ τοῦτο εἰς τὰς Μιλησίας. παίζει δὲ ὡς τοῖς ὀλίσβοις χρωμέναις. σκυτίνη ἐπικουρία: Παρὰ τὴν παροιμίαν, συκίνη ἐπικουρία, ἐπὶ τῶν ἀσθενῶν. ὁ δὲ εἰς τὴν σκυτίνην μετέβαλε. σκύτινοι γὰρ οἱ ὄλισβοι. εἰσὶ δὲ δερμάτινα αἰδοῖα, οἷς χρῶνται αἱ χῆραι γυναῖκες.

And, the chaste H. Liddell could do no better than give this a Latin name:

ὄλισβος , ὁ, A.penis coriaceus, Cratin.316, Ar.Lys.109, Fr.320.13.

J. Henderson, The Maculate Muse, 222

skinned dog

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