Tawdry Tuesday, Medicinal Edition: Priapic Ponds and Neuter Roots

The following two passages are from the Mirabilia of Apollonius the Paradoxographer (usually dated to the 2nd Century BCE, making him one of the earliest extant paradoxographers).

This plant makes you bigger [=BNJ 81 F17]

“Phularkhos writes in the eighth book of his Histories that near the Arabian Gulf there is a spring of water from which if anyone ever anoints their feet what transpires miraculously is that their penis becomes enormously erect.  For some it never contracts completely, while others are put back in shape with great suffering and medical attention.”

14 Φύλαρχος ἐν τῇ η′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν [καὶ] κατὰ τὸν ᾿Αράβιόν φησι κόλπον πηγὴν εἶναι ὕδατος, ἐξ οὗ εἴ τις τοὺς πόδας χρίσειεν, συμβαίνειν εὐθέως ἐντείνεσθαι ἐπὶ πολὺ τὸ αἰδοῖον, καί τινων μὲν μηδ’ ὅλως συστέλλεσθαι, τινῶν δὲ μετὰ μεγάλης κακοπαθείας καὶ θεραπείας ἀποκαθίστασθαι.

This plant makes you smaller [=BNJ 81 F35a]

“Phularkhos in book 20 of the Histories says that there is a white root imported from India which when [people] cut it and smear it over their feet with water, those who are smeared with it experience forgetfulness of sex and become similar to Eunuchs. For this reason still some apply it before they are fully adults and are not aroused for the rest of their life.”

18 Φύλαρχος ἐν <τῇ> κ′ τῶν ἱστοριῶν ἐκ τῆς ᾿Ινδικῆς φησιν ἐνεχθῆναι λευκὴν ῥίζαν, ἣν κόπτοντας μεθ’ ὕδατος καταπλάττειν τοὺς πόδας, τοὺς δὲ καταπλασθέντας ἄνδρας τῆς συνουσίας λήθην ἴσχειν καὶ γίγνεσθαι ὁμοίους εὐνούχοις. διὸ καὶ ἔτι ἀνήβων ὄντων καταχρίουσι καὶ μέχρι θανάτου οὐκ ἐπαίρουσιν.

This anecdote has a later parallel from Athenaeus

Athenaeus, Deipn. 1.32 [=BNJ8135b]

“Phularkhos says that Sandrokottos, the king of the Indians, sent along with other gifts to Seleukos some drugs with erectile powers, the kind of which, when they are applied beneath feet of those who are going to have sex, give the the urge like birds, while some people lose their ability [for sex].”

Φύλαρχος δὲ Σανδρόκοττόν φησι τὸν ᾽Ινδῶν βασιλέα Σελεύκωι μεθ᾽ ὧν ἔπεμψε δώρων ἀποστεῖλαί τινας δυνάμεις στυτικὰς τοιαύτας ὡς ὑπὸ τοὺς πόδας τιθεμένας τῶν συνουσιαζόντων οἷς μὲν ὁρμὰς ἐμποιεῖν ὀρνίθων δίκην, οὓς δὲ καταπαύειν.

Phularkhos (Phylarchus) is an Athenian historian from the 3rd century BCE known for his love of anecdote and miraculous detail

Here is an ancient spell for erectile dysfunction (go here for translation note):

Magical Papyri, 7.185

“To be able to fuck a lot: mix fifty [pine nuts] with two measures of honey and seeds of pepper and drink it. To have an erection whenever you want: mix pepper with honey and rub it on your thing.”

Πολλὰ βι[ν]εῖν δύνασθαι· στροβίλια πεντήκοντα μετὰ δύο κυά[θ]ων γλυκέος καὶ κόκκους πεπέρεως τρίψας πίε. Στ[ύ]ειν, ὅτε θέλεις· πέπερι μετὰ μέλιτος τρίψας χρῖέ σου τὸ πρᾶ̣γ̣μ̣α.

Tawdry Tuesday: More Erectile Dysfunction Poems 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 steer 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.

small-bronze

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

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.

12.245

“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.

Tawdry Tuesday: A Vergilian Poem on Erectile Dysfunction (Obviously, and Painfully, NFSW)

Note, even while translating this poem I often second guessed my own inclination. But, as is sometimes the case, the act of translation seeks its own peculiar end….

Appendix Vergiliana, Priapea IV

“What new thing is this? What does divine rage dictate now?
During the silent night while my bright boy was
Stretched out, snuggled in my lap,
Venus went silent, my languid ancient
Penis did not expose its manly head.

Does it make you happy Priapus—you who are used
to the forest covering with your head covered in vines—
to sit there red with a little red dick?
But, Huge Phallus God, often we have interleaved
Your hair with new flowers despite a lack of skill,
And we have often protected you with a shout
When an aged crow or obsessive jackdaw
Would pound your sacred head with pointed beak.

Goodbye, wicked traitor of my genitals!
Goodbye Priapus—I owe nothing to you.
You will stretch out pale in a fallow field
And a rabid dog or unclean boar
Will abrade the forgotten length of your wood.

And you, you criminal cock, my own curse,
You will pay the penalty of a sacred and severe law.
It will be right for you to weep. No tender boy
Will endure you and turn his moving rear
Open with a lovely trembling thigh.
Nor will any giggling girl stroke you
With a light hand and press her shining leg against you.

No! A two-toothed tart who looks like ancient Romulus
Waits for you: between her dark thighs
Lies a depth hidden by a hanging gut
Nestled beneath the skin, where
A protective spider’s web keeps the entrance cold.
She is ready for you, to engulf your moistened head
Three or four times in this deep ditch.
You can lie there sick and slowly thin
But she will work you over until finally, you wretch,
Now tripled and quadrupled you fill that void.
This insolence will not help you then when you
Immerse your inconstant crown in that sonorous crack.

What is this, lazy man? Doesn’t sloth shame you?
You might be allowed to go unpunished once.
But when that beautiful boy returns
Once you feel the sound of his feet,
Let this flesh wake up with solid lust
And may a restless swelling armor your crotch
And never stop compelling you until
A giggling Venus has burst my tender loins.

Quid hoc novi est? quid ira nuntiat deum?
silente nocte candidus mihi puer
tepente cum iaceret abditus sinu,
Venus fuit quieta, nec viriliter
iners senile penis extulit caput.

Placet, Priape, qui sub arboris coma
soles, sacrum revincte pampino caput,
ruber sedere cum rubente fascino?
at, o Triphalle, saepe floribus novis
tuas sine arte deligavimus comas,
abegimusque voce saepe, cum tibi
senexve corvus impigerve graculus
sacrum feriret ore corneo caput.

vale, nefande destitutor inguinum,
vale, Priape: debeo tibi nihil.
iacebis inter arva pallidus situ,
canisque saeva susque ligneo tibi
lutosus affricabit oblitum latus.

At, o sceleste penis, o meum malum,
gravi piaque lege noxiam lues.
licet querare: nec tibi tener puer
patebit ullus, in tremente qui toro
iuvante verset arte mobilem natem,
puella nec iocosa te levi manu
fovebit, apprimetve lucidum femur.

bidens amica Romuli senis memor
paratur, inter atra cuius inguina
latet iacente pantice abditus specus
vagaque pelle tectus, algido gelu
araneosus obsidet forem situs.
tibi haec paratur, ut tuum ter aut quarter
oret profunda fossa lubricum caput.
licebit aeger, angue lentior, cubes,
tereris usque donec, a, miser, miser
triplexque quadruplexque compleas specum.
superbia ista proderit nihil, simul
vagum sonante merseris luto caput.

Quid est, iners? pigetne lentitudinis?
licebit hoc inultus auferas semel:
sed ille cum redibit aureus puer,
simul sonante senseris iter pede,
rigente nervus excubet libidine,
et inquietus inguina arrigat tumor,
neque incitare cesset, usque dum mihi
Venus iocosa molle ruperit latus.

Aphrodite crowning a herm of Dionysos with an ivy wreath - 100BC from Myrina; now British Museum

Aphrodite with a Herm, British Museum

The Appendix Vergiliana is a group of poems attributed to Vergil, but not with much authority.

Tawdry Tuesday: Sex Therapy and Extreme Erectile Function with Martial

Martial, Epigrams 11.71

“Leda informed her ancient husband that she is crazy
And complains that she needs to be fucked.
But as she weeps and groans, she denies that sanity is worth the price
And claims instead that she prefers to die.
Her husband pleads for her to live, not to squander her best years—
And the act he does not perform himself to others he allows.
Immediately the gentleman doctors arrive and the lady medics leave:
Feet are raised! What a serious treatment!”

Hystericam vetulo se dixerat esse marito
et queritur futui Leda necesse sibi;
sed flens atque gemens tanti negat esse salutem
seque refert potius proposuisse mori.
Vir rogat ut vivat virides nec deserat annos,
et fieri quod iam non facit ipse sinit.
Protinus accedunt medici medicaeque recedunt,
tollunturque pedes. O medicina gravis!

11.72
“Natta swallows his own Draucus’ ‘little penis’—
Compared to him, Priapus is a Eunuch!”

Drauci Natta sui vorat pipinnam,
collatus cui gallus est Priapus.

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