When I was an undergraduate reading Petronius’ Satyricon, I remember being struck by the word cinaedus (the Latinized form of the Greek kinaidos) in the phrase Intrat cinaedus (Satyricon 28).
My professor at the time gleefully shared his preferred translation:
“In walked a fucker…”
The word is somewhat difficult to translate because we have no clear English equivalent, and as delightful as the simple “fucker” may sound, it is not perfect. Most dictionaries try to shroud the meaning somewhat with a veil of circumlocution. (Liddell and Scott give us “a lewd fellow,” and translate kinaidia as “lust.”) This memory occurred to me this afternoon, so I decided to spend a bit of time with that most learned of tracts, the Suda, and see what sort of clarification I could find.
The Suda provides a few entries bearing upon the kinaidos or kinaidia, the state of being a kinaidos. As with most other Suda entries, these range from laughable etymologies to displays of wondrously obscure pedantry.
Κίναιδα· καὶ Κιναιδία: ἡ ἀναισχυντία. ὅτι ὁ τῆς Κλεοπάτρας κίναιδος Χελιδὼν ἐκαλεῖτο.
Kinaidia: A lack of shame; Cleopatra’s kinaidos was called Chelidon.
Κίναιδος: ἀσελγής, μαλακός. καὶ ἐν ᾿Επιγράμμασι· ὡς μεγάλου κιναίδου.
Kinaidos: A licentious person, someone soft. This is found in epigrams: “…like a giant kinaidos.”
The Suda also has an entry for the privative a-kinaidos.
᾿Ακίναιδος: ὁ μὴ κινῶν τὰ αἰδοῖα, ὁ σώφρων. καὶ ᾿Ακίναιδα.
Akinaidos : One not moving (kinon) his genitals (aidoia).
Some Suda entries also provide examples of people who were noted kinaidoi. The reputation of being a kinaidos seems to be wrapped up with other traits such as effeminacy and gourmandizing, and is always mentioned with a hint of reproach about it.
Κλεόκριτος· οὗτος ἐκωμῳδεῖτο ὡς γυναικίας καὶ κίναιδος καὶ ξένος καὶ δυσγενὴς καὶ Κυβέλης υἱός· ἐπεὶ ἐν τοῖς μυστηρίοις τῆς ῾Ρέας μαλακοὶ παρῆσαν. ἦν δὲ καὶ τὴν ὄψιν ὀρνιθώδης. εἴρηται οὖν ἐπὶ τῶν κιναίδων ἡ παροιμία.
Kleokritos: He was lampooned as a weakling, a kinaidos, a foreigner, of low birth, and a son of Cybele, since effeminate men were present at the mysteries of Rhea (Cybele). He also looked like a bird. Thus goes the saying about kinaidoi.
Κυβέλης υἱός: ὁ Κλεόκριτος, ὃς ἐκωμῳδεῖτο ὡς γυναικίας καὶ κίναιδος.
The son of Cybele: Kleokritos, who was lampooned as a weakling and a kinaidos.
ἦν δὲ ὁ Τελέας σκωπτικὸς ἄνθρωπος καὶ εὐμετάβλητος τοὺς τρόπους· πρὸς γὰρ τῇ κιναιδίᾳ καὶ δειλίᾳ καὶ ὀψοφαγίᾳ καὶ νοσφισμῷ καὶ πονηρίᾳ διεβάλλετο. καὶ Πλάτων ἐν Σύρφακι περὶ τοῦ Τελέου φησί· νοεῖ μὲν ἕτερα, ἕτερα δὲ τῇ γλώττῃ φθέγγεται.
Teleas was an irreverent man and easily changed his ways. He was slandered for kinaidia, cowardice, meat-eating, running away, and knavery. And Plato*, in his Surphax, says about Teleas: ‘He thinks one thing, but says another.’
*Note: This is not Plato the philosopher, but rather the comic author.
Other entries focus on providing synonyms:
Γύνανδρος: κίναιδος. ὁ γύνανδρός τε καὶ μάλθων τύραννος. ἀντὶ τοῦ ἔκλυτος.
Woman-man: A kinaidos. ‘He was a woman man and an effeminate tyrant.’ Used in place of ‘easy’ or ‘dissolute.’
Katapugos: [synonymous with] Kinaidos
The rest of the Suda’s entries dealing with kinaidia are primarily associative and conjure up the irrational but long-held masculine fear of being in some way dainty or effeminate. This entry, however, hints more strongly that the kinaidos is specifically a man who submits to anal (pugos = buttocks) penetration. Consider also the entries for katapugon:
Katapugon: Kataselgainon (Committing outrageous acts.)
Καταπύγων: ὁ λάγνης. ἡ δὲ μεταφορὰ ἀπὸ τῶν ἀλφίτων οὕτως λεγομένων ἰχθύων, ὅτι ἕπονται κατ’ οὐράν. ἡ γενικὴ δὲ καταπύγωνος· καὶ καταπύγωνα ἡ αἰτιατικὴ καὶ αἱ ἄλλαι πτώσεις εὕρηνται. εὕρηται καὶ τὸ θηλυκὸν καταπύγων. καὶ ἡ πρᾶξις καταπυγοσύνη, τουτέστιν ἡ μαλακία. Καταπυγωνέστερον: μαλακώτερον, πορνικώτερον. οὐκέτι δόξειέ τι ἄλλο τι καταπυγωνέστερον εἶναι.
Katapugon: A lustful man. This is a metaphor from the ‘barley meal’ (so to speak) of fish, because they follow the tail. The genitive case is katapugonos, and the accusative case is katapugona, and all of the other cases can be found. Katapugon is also found in the feminine. The practice is known as katapugosune, that is, effeminacy. ‘ Katapugonesteron = malakoteron (more effeminate) = pornikoteron (more like a harlot). [The Suda is here quoting the Scholia to Arisophanes’ Lysistrata.]
Throughout, the association with effeminacy appears to be linked primarily to the state of being the sexually passive partner. This is transmuted by deeply-entrenched misogyny into the broader notion that if a man is sexually passive, he is in some way transformed into a “girly man” and a model of sexual indecency. [One may note that a certain penile polupragmosune will earn no reproach for a man, but his submission to another will.]
Ultimately, it is true that we have no single English term which is synonymous with kinaidos or fully captures its rather broad semantic range. This is perhaps no surprise, since the Romans apparently did not have one either, and appear to have adopted the Greek term outright with a certain lascivious enthusiasm.