The Distinguished Antiquity of the Mushroom as a Membrum Virile

This popped into my mind for no particular reason.

μύκης, μύκητος: “mushroom”…2. membrum virile


Herodian. Anecd. Ox. iii.231.5 = Archilochus 252

“Mushroom: can also mean a man’s genitals—which is what Archilochus says when he presents it with the same number of syllables: “The tendons of my ‘mushroom’ were ruptured.”

(μύκης) σημαίνει δὲ καὶ τὸ αἰδοῖον τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, ὅπερ καὶ ἰσοσυλλάβως ἔκλινεν Ἀρχίλοχος εἰπὼν

ἀλλ᾿ ἀπερρώγασι μύκεω τένοντες.

Henderson, The Maculate Muse 1991: 20

mushroom henderson

Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Ancient Greek 2010

beekes mush 1

beekes mush 2

Dio Cassius, Rom. Hist. Ep. 41

“Nero has also left for us a saying worth remembering. For he used to say that mushrooms were food of the gods because [Claudius] became a god thanks to a mushroom”

Καὶ ὁ Νέρων δὲ οὐκ ἀπάξιον μνήμης ἔπος κατέλιπε· τοὺς γὰρ μύκητας θεῶν βρῶμα ἔλεγεν εἶναι, ὅτι καὶ ἐκεῖνος διὰ τοῦ μύκητος θεὸς ἐγεγόνει.

Hippocrates of Cos, Epidemics 7.102

“The young daughter of Pausanias ate a raw mushroom and felt nausea, choking, and stomach pain. Drinking warm melicrêt and puking relieved her along with a warm bath. She puked up the mushroom in the bath and she sweated while she was getting better”

Τῇ Παυσανίου κούρῃ μύκητα ὠμὸν φαγούσῃ ἄση, πνιγμός, ὀδύνη γαστρός. μελίκρητον θερμὸν πίνειν καὶ ἐμεῖν ξυνήνεγκε, καὶ λουτρὸν θερμόν· ἐν τῷ λουτρῷ ἐξήμεσε τὸν μύκητα, καὶ ἐπεὶ λήξεινἔμελλεν ἐξίδρωσεν.

Tawdry Tuesday Returns: Masturbating in Latin

This is a much needed companion piece to our post on the same topic in Greek.  Note that many of lexical metaphors for masturbation are shared by the two languages. Much of the following material is drawn from J.N. Adams. The Latin Sexual Vocabulary. 1982. Note, however, that many of the examples are not truly masturbatory.

As an important prefatory note, the Latin word masturbor (whence modern “masturbate”) has unclear and irregular use in Latin (discussed by Adams 209-211 with some rather strong attacks on J. P. Hallet’s 1976 “Masturbator, Mascarpio.” Glotta, vol. 54: 292–308.) The word occurs most prominently in an agentive form  in Martial (translated here with considerable license):

Martial, 14.203 Puella Gaditana

“She sways with such curves and oozes sex so deep
That she’d turn Hippolytus himself into a masturbating creep.”

Tam tremulum crisat, tam blandum prurit, ut ipsum
masturbatorem fecerit Hippolytum.

Adams mast

Other words and terms

Frico, “to rub, chafe”, cf. cont. vulg: “rub one out”

Petronius 91.11

“it is that much more advantageous to rub your groin rather than your genius”

tanto magis expedit inguina quam ingenia fricare

Sollicito, “to shake, stir, rouse, agitate, excite, urge” etc.

Despite Adam’s assertion, the primary examples he cites are about the manipulation of genitals by another party.

Ovid, Amores 3.7.73-4

“Despite this, my girl was not reluctant
To stroke me gently once she moved her hand down…”

Hanc etiam non est mea dedignata puella
molliter admota sollicitare manu;

Martial, 11.22.4

“Who denies this? This is too much. But let it be enough
Stop urging on their groins with that fucker of a hand.”

quis negat?—hoc nimium est. sed sit satis; inguina saltem
parce fututrici sollicitare manu.

Petronius 20.2

“She stirred up my groin which was cold already because of a thousand deaths.”

Sollicitavit inguina mea mille iam mortibus frigida

Cf. Maximianus 5.58 “she began to handle my dirty parts with her hand / and to excite me too with her fingers.” contrectare manu coepit flagrantia membra / meque etiam digitis sollicitare suis

Tango, “touch”, cf. Divinyls Classic “I Touch Myself”

Ovid, Ars Amatoria 2.719–720

“When you find those places where the lady delights at being touched,
Don’t let shame get in the way of you touching her.”

Cum loca reppereris, quae tangi femina gaudet,
Non obstet, tangas quo minus illa, pudor.

Tracto: “to draw, haul, handle, treat” cf. perhaps “to jerk [off]” or “wank”

Martial 11.29.8

“I don’t need a finger: handle me like this, Phyllis”

nil opus est digitis: sic mihi, Phylli, frica

Priapea 80.1-2

“But this limp dick is not long enough nor does it stand up strong enough,
Even if you play with it, do you think it can grow?”

At non longa bene est, non stat bene mentula crassa
et quam si tractes, crescere posse putes?

Adams 1982, 208:


(de)glubo: “to skin, flay, peel” cf. “skin off”

Ausonius, Epigram 79 “Inscribed Beneath the Picture of a Lusty Lady”

Beyond the genial joining of authorized sex
Sinful lust has discovered unnatural modes of love:
What the Lemnian lack posited to the heir of Herakles,
Or what the plays of Afranius in Roman garb presented
Or the total depravity that marked the Nolan people.
Somehow, in a single body, Crispa practices all three!
She masturbates, fellates, and rides with either hole—
So that she might not die frustrated, leaving anything untried.

LXXIX.—Subscriptum Picturae Mulieris impudicae

Praeter legitimi genialia foedera coetus
repperit obscenas veneres vitiosa libido:
Herculis heredi quam Lemnia suasit egestas,
quam toga facundi scaenis agitavit Afrani
et quam Nolanis capitalis luxus inussit.
Crispa tamen cunctas exercet corpore in uno:
deglubit, fellat, molitur per utramque cavernam,
ne quid inexpertum frustra moritura relinquat.

Which Season is Sweetest?

Bion, fr. 2 (preserved in Stobaeus 1.8.39)


Myrsôn, what do you find sweet in the spring,
The winter, fall, or summer? Which do you pray for the most?
Is it summer when everything we have worked for is done,
Or is fall sweeter, when hunger is light for men,
Or is it winter, bad for work, when because of the season
Many warm themselves delighting in laziness and relaxation—
Or, surely, is it noble spring which pleases you more?
Tell me what’s on your mind, since leisure has allowed us to chat.


It is not right for mortals to judge divine deeds—
For all these things are sacred and sweet. But for you, Kleodamos,
I will confess what seems sweeter to me than the rest.
I do not wish for the summer, since the sun cooks me then.
I do not wish for the Fall, since that season brings disease.
The Winter brings ruinous snow—and I have chilling fear.
I long for  Spring three times as much for the whole year,
When neither the cold nor the heat weigh upon me.
Everything is pregnant in the spring, everything grows sweet in springtime
When humans have nights and days as equal, nearly the same.”

Εἴαρος, ὦ Μύρσων, ἢ χείματος ἢ φθινοπώρω
ἢ θέρεος τί τοι ἁδύ; τί δὲ πλέον εὔχεαι ἐλθεῖν;
ἦ θέρος, ἁνίκα πάντα τελείεται ὅσσα μογεῦμες,
ἢ γλυκερὸν φθινόπωρον, ὅκ’ ἀνδράσι λιμὸς ἐλαφρά,
ἢ καὶ χεῖμα δύσεργον—ἐπεὶ καὶ χείματι πολλοί
θαλπόμενοι θέλγονται ἀεργίᾳ τε καὶ ὄκνῳ—
ἤ τοι καλὸν ἔαρ πλέον εὔαδεν; εἰπὲ τί τοι φρήν
αἱρεῖται, λαλέειν γὰρ ἐπέτραπεν ἁ σχολὰ ἄμμιν.

κρίνειν οὐκ ἐπέοικε θεήια ἔργα βροτοῖσι,
πάντα γὰρ ἱερὰ ταῦτα καὶ ἁδέα· σεῦ δὲ ἕκατι
ἐξερέω, Κλεόδαμε, τό μοι πέλεν ἅδιον ἄλλων.
οὐκ ἐθέλω θέρος ἦμεν, ἐπεὶ τόκα μ’ ἅλιος ὀπτῇ·
οὐκ ἐθέλω φθινόπωρον, ἐπεὶ νόσον ὥρια τίκτει.
οὖλον χεῖμα φέρει νιφετόν, κρυμὼς δὲ φοβεῦμαι.
εἶαρ ἐμοὶ τριπόθητον ὅλῳ λυκάβαντι παρείη,
ἁνίκα μήτε κρύος μήθ’ ἅλιος ἄμμε βαρύνει.
εἴαρι πάντα κύει, πάντ’ εἴαρος ἁδέα βλαστεῖ,
χἀ νὺξ ἀνθρώποισιν ἴσα καὶ ὁμοίιος ἀώς.

Season Words

Spring: ἔαρ, τὸ: from IE *ves-r, cf. vernal.

Summer: θέρος, τὸ: from a root meaning “warm, heat”

Winter: χεῖμα, τὸ (ancient word for winter)

Fall: φθινόπωρον, τό:  from φθιν (φθίω “decay, waste, dwindle”)+ ὀπώρα (“end of summer, harvest”)

Ecclesiastes, 3 Latin Vulgate

omnia tempus habent et suis spatiis transeunt universa sub caelo
tempus nascendi et tempus moriendi tempus plantandi
et tempus evellendi quod plantatum est


Work Words

Zenobius 3.71

“To dance in darkness”: A proverb applied to those who toil over unwitnessed things—their work is invisible.”

᾿Εν σκότῳ ὀρχεῖσθαι: ἐπὶ τῶν ἀμάρτυρα μοχθούντων, ὧν τὸ ἔργον ἀφανές.


Plutarch, Perikles 1.4 5-6

“Often and quite contrarily, we look down on a laborer while delighting in his work.”

πολλάκις δὲ καὶ τοὐναντίον χαίροντες τῷ ἔργῳ τοῦ δημιουργοῦ καταφρονοῦμεν


ἐργάνη: worker

ἐργασία: work, labor

ἐργαστήρ: worker

ἐργαστηριάρχος: work-leader

ἐργαστήριον: a workplace

ἐργαστικός: able to work

ἐργαστῖναι: girls who make the peplos for Athena

ἐργατεία: work, labor


Arsenius, 13.49a

“Not even time, the father of everything, can make an end of labors.”

 Οὐδ’ ἂν χρόνος ὁ πάντων πατὴρ δύνατο θέμεν ἔργων τέλος.


ἐργάτησιος: income-earning

ἐργάτης: workman

ἐργάτις: workwoman

ἐργοδιώκτης: task-master

ἐργολαβία: contract for work

ἐργοπαρέκτης: employer

ἐργόχειρον: manual labor

ἐργώδης: irksome, troublesome

μίσοεργος: hating work, lazy

φιλοεργός: fond of work, industrious


Hesiod Works and Days, 289-90

“The gods made sweat the price for virtue.”

τῆς δ’ ἀρετῆς ἱδρῶτα θεοὶ προπάροιθεν ἔθηκαν / ἀθάνατοι·

Image result for ancient greek harvest vase

The “Harvesters vase” from Agia Triada ( 1500-1400 BC). Heraklion Archaeological Museum

How to Say “Sharknado” in Ancient Greek

Last summer, while catching up with the SYFY series The Expanse, I learned that a fifth installment of the movie Sharknado has made its debut. So, got to thinking and sent a tweet. Some entertainment ensued. In honor of the sixth and allegedly final movie in the storied franchise The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time, here we go again.

I was surprised about the engagement (people like absurd questions), but not too surprised. I then got distracted by the idea. I have put some of the responses below. Apologies if I missed anyone.

My first thought was: Why is Shark-nado funny?

It is an absurd compound, the word shark plus a part of the word tornado, which has been amusingly reanalyzed as if it were a meaningful suffix. And, by the magical power of languag, it now is in fact a meaningful suffix.

Also, it is funny because it sounds like a metaphor but is actually literal: in the made for TV movies, of which there are now five, there is a churning gyro made of sharks.

Etymology, from the OED s.v. “tornado”

Etymology: In Hakluyt and his contemporaries, ternado; from Purchas 1625 onward, turnadotournadotornado. In none of these forms does the word exist in Spanish or Portuguese. But the early sense makes it probable that ternado was a bad adaptation (perhaps originally a blundered spelling) of Spanish tronada ‘thunderstorm’ ( <tronar to thunder), and that tornado was an attempt to improve it by treating it as a derivative of Spanish tornar to turn, return; compare tornado participle, returned. It is notable that this spelling is identified with explanations in which, not the thunder, but the turning, shifting, or whirling winds are the main feature. This is emphasized in the variants turnadotournado.

The suggestions from Twitter:

καρχαριοτυφῶν: from   [καρχαρίας “shark” + τυφῶν “tornado”] by @AntieDiaphanus

καρχαρίανεμοστρόβιλος: “shark-rain-gyre” from @didaclopez

κηταιγίδα: pun on “sea monster” (κῆτος) and storm (καταιγίς) from @KirkdaleBooks cf. κηταιγίδα (loved by @giovanni_lido)

καρχαρίομβρος: “shark-rain” from @nanocyborgasm

καρχαριοστρόβιλος: “shark-gyre” from @peneloPa

τερατολαῖλαψ: “monster=-omen hurricane” from @ohflanders

καρχαριηριώλη: “shark-air-destruction” from @deadfulprof

καρχαριάνεμος “shark-wind” from @jatrius

Κετρόβιλος: “sea-monster gyre” from @didaclopez

καρχαροδίνη: “shark-whorl” from @equiprimordial

Image result for ancient greek vase shark

My thought process:

I wanted Ancient Greek, so the problem is there is no word for “shark” according to Woodhouse’s Greek English dictionary. In Oppian’s Halieutika, we find a “fox-shark” (ἀλωπεκίαι, 1.380; cf. Ananius fr. 5.5: κἀλωπέκων) and, possibly, “the genus shark” in Aristotle’s On Breathing (τὸ τῶν καλουμένων σελαχῶν γένος, 476a) while Aelian prefers Ὁ γαλεὸς (On Animals, 2.55).

Of course, we need to go to Greek comedy if we want fish names: Platon the Comic gives us καρχαρίαν (fr. 189.14) while Cratinus, according to Athenaeus, gives us κύων (fr. 171.50), Eupolis provides σελάχιον (πρίω μοι σελάχιον, fr 1.: “buy some shark for me!”). I am going to leave aside the metaphorical transfer names (“dog” and “shark”) and focus just on the fish-words.

Here’s the LSJ on this:

σέλαχος, ὁ: “of all cartilaginous fishes” including “sharks”

καρχαρίας, ὁ: “a kind of shark” named so because of its “sharp” teeth (κάρχαρος means “sharp”).

Obviously, no one wants to use σέλαχος. So, the better suggestions should be from καρχαρίας.  Someone suggested a κητ- compound, which I find especially attractive since κῆτος is already productive in compounds (e.g. κητόδορπος (fish-food) κητοτρόφος (sea-monster nourishing), κητοφάγος (sea-monster eating), κητοφόνος (sea monster slaying). The reason I am leaning this way is because SHARK in American films and culture is a figure of respect and horror, not something you eat. IT EATS YOU. So, Greek κῆτος, while not a shark, seems more apt for the EXTREME nature of this gyronic KILLING MACHINE.

Woodhouse suggests for English “tornado”: χείμων, θύελλα, τυφώς. For hurricane: the same, but with πρηστήρ coming sooner. The blander “storm” gets these, plus τρικυμία, φυσήματα, κλύδων and νιφάς. It does not provide what I think is the best suggestion, λαῖλαψ, which I am probably particular to because it is rather archaic. I also love the Suda’s definition “rain with wind. And darkness” (Λαῖλαψ: μετ’ ἀνέμων ὄμβρος, καὶ σκότος). Hescyhius also glosses it as “a storm, a turning of wind with rain” (καταιγίς, ἀνέμου συστροφὴ μετὰ ὑετοῦ).

Some further suggestions

κητολαῖλαψ: “sea-monster hurricane”

κητοχειμών: “sea-monster storm”

καρχαριοτυφών: “shark-typhoon”

κητοτυφών: “sea-monster typhoon”

καρχαριολαῖλαψ: “sea-monster hurricane”

Palaiophron suggested ἕλιξ κητέων, which is pretty rad. But I would like to turn that bad-boy around and get κητο-ελιξ or perhaps κητόλελιξ or even καρχαριόλελιξ.


Side-note 1: One friend said this post would be really popular. I said maybe, but what people really like are posts about feces, middle-fingers, puking and masturbation.

Side-note 2: Another friend said that the compound should have some Greek compound of “turn” in it. I failed him.

Side-note 3: Another friend, in discovering that there were 5 Sharknado films, texted me: “What!? Where have I been? In such a world, “President Trump” should have come as no surprise.”

Side-note 4: My son who is 5 just walked by and saw the promo-picture for “Sharknado 5” and said “giant sharks on land and in the air? That. Is. A. Mazing.”

Postscript: There were some Latin suggestions too

Post-Post Script: There was a late-breaking addition that is worthy of note:

Greek Nostos and English Nostalgia

Someone asked me to put together a post on nostos. Here’s what I got. I am happy to add anything someone else can find. This is far from exhaustive.

The Greek noun nostos (“homecoming”) is mostly reconstructed as a reflex of a verbal root neomai (“to come or go”) but its semantic range drifts to include ideas of salvation and rescue.

From Beekes’ Etymological Dictionary of Ancient Greek (2010)

nostos beeks

In early Greek poetry, nostos is a song that is about homecoming. On this, see Nagy 1999 [1997], 97; Murnaghan 2002, 147. Douglas Frame (1978) argues that it also means “return to light and life” whereas Anna Bonifazi adds “salvation not death”. For more on the nostoi as a tradition, see the discussion and bibliography in Barker and Christensen 2015. Gregory Nagy surveys the meaning of the term nostos in the Odyssey as return and a song of homecoming in his Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours.

In later Greek, the term retained much of this meaning but, as I will show below, it can also mean “sweetness”. The thematic and proverbial power of the poetic tradition seems to have kept this specialized meaning as primary as the language developed.

From E.A. Sophocles “Dictionary of Byzantine Greek”

nostos med

Our English word nostalgia comes from a post-classical Latin compound which has deep resonance with Greek epic, especially Odysseus. Odysseus has thematic associations with algea (neuter plural for algos, “grief, pain”). Our modern meaning of “acute longing for familiar surroundings” or “sentimental longing for a period of the past (OED online)” may draw on ancient poetic associations. A nostos is a return to the home, which is symbolically a return to the past. Ultimately, it is partly a futile wish because neither home nor person (neither the past, nor the rememberer) remain the same.

Nostalgia was originally coined by Johannes Hofer in 1688 for a pathological mental disorder, a type of mania that involved longing for the past. Some modern psychological studies still examine the phenomenon. It has been described as both parafunctional in undermining a sense of well-being and rootedness in the future (Verplanken 2012) and as a useful resource of memory which can help reinforce identity against existential threats (Routledge et al 2012 and Sedikedis and Wildschut 2016).

The ancient etymological dictionaries pretty much provide the same information as the Byzantine Suda:

Suda, Nu 500

“Nostos: The return to home. From the sweetness of a homeland. Or it comes from the giving of flavor. But also “the poets who sang the songs of Return follow Homer to the extent they are capable. It seems that not only one poet composed and wrote the homecoming of the Achaeans, but some others did too.

Νόστος: ἡ οἴκαδε ἐπάνοδος. παρὰ τὸ τῆς πατρίδος ἡδύ.

ἢ ἡ ἀνάδοσις τῆς γεύσεως. καὶ οἱ ποιηταὶ δὲ οἱ τοὺς Νόστους ὑμνήσαντες ἕπονται τῷ ῾Ομήρῳ ἐς ὅσον εἰσὶ δυνατοί. φαίνεται ὅτι οὐ μόνος εἷς εὑρισκόμενος ἔγραψε νόστον ᾿Αχαιῶν, ἀλλὰ καί τινες ἕτεροι.

Nu 501

“Homecoming: in regular use it is “sweetness”, applied to edibles. This comes from the [sweetness] of returning and coming back again home. From the sweetness of your homeland, for nothing is sweeter than your fatherland, according to Homer. From nostos in customary use we also have nostimon, which can mean “pleasant”, “sweet”. And there is a certain god, Eunostos, a divinity of the mill. The poetic term nostos comes from neô [to go], in, for example “now I am not going home.” This means “I do not return” [epanerkhomai]. There is also the form nostô, which provides the compounds palinostô, and aponostô.”

Νόστος: παρὰ τῇ συνηθείᾳ ὁ γλυκασμός, ἐπὶ τῶν ἐδεσμάτων. ὡς ἀπὸ τῆςοἴκαδε ἀνακομιδῆς καὶ ἀναστροφῆς· παρὰ τὸ τῆς πατρίδος γλυκύ. οὐδὲν γὰρ γλύκιον ἧς πατρίδος, καθ’ ῞Ομηρον. ἐκ δὲ τοῦ κατὰ τὴν συνήθειαν νόστου καὶ νόστιμον, τὸ ἡδύ. καὶ Εὔνοστος, θεός τις, φασίν, ἐπιμύλιος. ὁ δὲ ποιητικὸς  νόστος παρὰ τὸ νέω γίνεται. οἷον, νῦν δ’ ἐπεὶ οὐ νέομαι γε. ἤγουν οὐκ ἐπανέρχομαι. ἔστι δὲ καὶ ῥῆμα νοστῶ, οὗ σύνθετα παλινοστῶ καὶ ἀπονοστῶ


Some things cited in this post:

Barker, Elton T. E. and Christensen, Joel P. 2015. “Odysseus’s Nostos and the Odyssey’s Nostoi,” in G. Scafoglio, Studies on the Epic Cycle. Rome. 85–110.

Bonifazi, A. 2009. “Inquiring into nostos and its cognates.” American Journal of Philology 130: 481–510.

Frame, Douglas. 1978. The Myth of Return in Early Greek Epic. New Haven.

Murnaghan, Sheila. 2002. “The Trials of Telemachus: Who Was the Odyssey Meant for?” Arethusa 35: 133–153.

Nagy, Gregory. 1979. The Best of the Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry. Baltimore.

Routledge, Clay, Wildschut Tim, Sedikides, Constantine, Juhl, Jacob, , and  Arndt, Jamie. 2012”The power of the past: Nostalgia as a meaning-making resource.” Memory, 1-9.

Sedikides, Constantine and Wildschut, Tim. 2016. ”Nostalgia: A Bittersweet Emotion that Confers Psychological Health Benefits.” The Wiley Handbook of Positive Clinical  Psychology, 126–136.

Verplanken, Bas. 2012. “When bittersweet turns sour: Adverse effects of nostalgia on habitual worriers.” European Journal of Social Psychology, 42, 285–289.

Beforehand: Some “Fore” Compounds for No Particular Reason

In case it might be useful, some words to go with Greek and Latin passages for treason.

προβουλεύω: “to contrive beforehand”

προβουλόπαις: “pre-plotting child”

προγάστηρ: “gut, paunch”

προγευματίζω: “to taste beforehand”

προγιγνώσκω: “to have prior knowledge”

πρόγνωσις: “foreknowledge”

προγλωσσεύω: “to speak beforehand”

προγνωστής: “one who has foreknowledge”

προδακρύω: “to weep beforehand”

πρόδηλος: “clear before”

προδιαμαρτύρομαι: “to furnish as a witness beforehand”

προδιασκευή: “prior edition”

προδιαφθείρω: “to destroy beforehand”

πρόδοτος: “betrayed”

προδουλόω: “to enslave beforehand”

προθυμία: “eagerness”

προίστωρ: “one with foreknowledge”

προκαταλήγω: “to foreclose beforehand”

προκατηγορία: “prior accusation”

προλιχνεύομαι: “to lick beforehand”

προμηθεία: “forethought”

προμιαίνω: “to defile beforehand”

προμίγνυμι: “to screw beforehand”

προξενία: “a treaty or compact between a state and a foreigner”

Speculum Humanae Salvationis, Westfalen oder Köln, um 1360. ULB Darmstadt, Hs 2505, fol. 37r

Speculum Humanae Salvationis, Westfalen oder Köln, um 1360. ULB Darmstadt, Hs 2505, fol. 37r

Tawdry Tuesday: Medicine, Magic, and Erections (Ancient Greek Viagra)

Last year a tweet from the always entertaining Greek History Podcast (.@greekhistorypod) directed me to learn some new words: “To have an erection whenever you wish, mix up crushed pepper in honey and smear on your thing” —Greek Magical Papyri, 7.185. Also, I don’t advise trying the following formulas.  This post has been ‘enhanced’ from the original. Here we go…

The full passage also has a prescription for sexual performance

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.

  1. Complications: this might just be a metaphor. στροβίλια can be phallic; κόκκος can mean “testicles” or female genitals. Also, seeds are, well, seminal. So there is some associative magic going on here.

2. I was a little unsure about στροβίλια, but I checked Galen (De Simp. Medic. 12.55.7) and it seems to be a pine nut (Κώνου ὁ καρπὸς, ὃν δὴ καὶ κόκαλον ὀνομάζουσι καὶ στρόβιλον). I am happy for a botanist’s help.

3. τὸ πρᾶ̣γ̣μ̣α: There is a variant attributed to Democritus τὸ π[έλ]μα, which looks like we could treat as a diminutive of τὸ πέος (“penis”) if we wanted to. So, you know, “spread pepper and honey on your little prick”. In Modern Greek, “thing” can still mean genitals.

4. Pepper and honey are prescribed by Aelian for persuading livestock to breed. In Dioscorides, pepper is suggested as a birth control method and as a a way of stimulating the libido:

Aelian, Nature of the Animals  9.48

“Guardians who want the reproduction of their animals to increase when it is time to mate take handfuls of salt and sodium carbonate and rub them on the genitals of female sheep, and goats and horses. From these [animals] get more eager for sex. Others rub them down with pepper and honey; and others with sodium carbonate and nettle-seed. Some even rub them down with myrrh. From this kind of stimulation the females lose control and go crazy for the males.”

  1. ‘Υπὲρ τοῦ πλείονα τὴν ἐπιγονὴν τῶν ζῴων σφίσι γίνεσθαι οἱ τούτων μελεδωνοὶ τὰ ἄρθρα τῶν θηλειῶν καὶ οἰῶν καὶ αἰγῶν καὶ ἵππων ἀνατρίβουσι κατὰ τὸν τῆς ὀχείας καιρὸν ἁλῶν καὶ λίτρουτὰς χεῖρας ἀναπλήσαντες. ἐκ τούτων ὄρεξις αὐτοῖς γίνεται περὶ τὴν ἀφροδίτην μᾶλλον. ἕτεροι δὲ πεπέριδι καὶ μέλιτι τὰ αὐτὰ χρίουσι, λίτρῳ δὲ ἄλλοι καὶ κνίδης καρπῷ· σμυρνίῳ δὲ ἤδη τινὲς ἔχρισαν καὶ λίτρῳ. ἐκ δὴ τοῦδε τοῦ ὀδαξησμοῦ ἀκράτορες ἑαυτῶν γίνονται αἱ θήλειαι ποῖμναι, καὶ ἐπιμαίνονται τοῖς ἄρρεσιν.

Dioscorides, De materia medica 2.159:2-3

“Both kinds of pepper commonly have the following effects:, digestive, uretic, absorbent [antidiarrheal], pro-perspirant and a purgative for things which overshadow girls. It also treats those who drink it and rub it on for periodic shakes and helps those bitten by wild beasts and also compels [out?] fetuses. It seems to make someone not pregnant when applied after sex.

It helps with coughs and aids with all kinds of ailments in the chest cavity, when it is taken in lozenges and suspensions, and it helps with sore throats when rubbed in with honey. It also treats constricted bowels when drunk with young laurel leaves. When it is crushed with stavesacre, it helps to produces phlegm, which is both painless and healthy to do. It stimulates your libido and helps as well in a soup mixed over heat. When it is prepared with pitch it helps neck swelling, and it darkens white spots with washing. Like lentils, pepper jumps in a pan right on the coals when it is roasting.”

δύναμιν δὲ ἔχει κοινῶς θερμαντικήν, πεπτικήν, οὐρητικήν, ἐπισπαστικήν, διαφορητικήν, σμηκτικὴν τῶν ταῖς κόραις ἐπισκοτούντων· ἁρμόζει καὶ ῥίγεσι περιοδικοῖς πινόμενον καὶ συγχριόμενον, καὶ θηριοδήκτοις ἀρήγει, ἄγει καὶ ἔμβρυα. ἀτόκιον δὲ εἶναι δοκεῖ μετὰ συνουσίαν προστιθέμενον, βηξί τε καὶ πᾶσι τοῖς περὶ θώρακα πάθεσιν ἁρμόζει, ἔν τε ἐκλεικτοῖς καὶ ποτήμασι λαμβανόμενον, καὶ συνάγχαις ἁρμόζει διαχριόμενον σὺν μέλιτι, καὶ στρόφους λύει πινόμενον μετὰ δάφνης φύλλων ἁπαλῶν. ἀποφλεγματίζει δὲ σὺν σταφίδι διαμασηθέν, ἀνώδυνόν τέ ἐστι καὶ ὑγιεινόν, καὶ ὄρεξιν κινεῖ καὶ πέψει συνεργεῖ μειγνύμενον ἐμβάμμασιν. ἀναλημφθὲν δὲ πίσσῃ χοιράδας διαφορεῖ, σμήχει δὲ ἀλφοὺς σὺν νίτρῳ. φώγνυται δὲ ἐν ὀστράκῳ καινῷ ἐπ’ ἀνθράκων κινούμενον ὡς φακοί.

Some Explanations for Erections, Courtesy of ‘Aristotle’. thanks to Ryan Blank (@drawingablank87) for Reminding me of these.

Aristotle, Problems 879a-b

20 “Sexual excitement is also due to an exiting of breath. If its rush finds some exit while arousal is ongoing then it does not make the semen ejaculate. But instead, it cools. Then, it ruins the rigidity of the penis.”

ἔστι δὲ καὶ ὁ ἀφροδισιασμὸς μετὰ πνεύματος ǁ ἐξόδου. εἰ οὖν ὁδοποιεῖται ἡ ὁρμὴ γινομένου αὐτοῦ, οὐ ποιεῖ ὁρμᾶν τὸ σπέρμα, ἀλλὰ καταψύχεται· μαραίνει οὖν τὴν συντονίαν τοῦ αἰδοίου.

4.23 “Why does rigidity and increase happen to the penis? Is it for two reasons? First, is it because that weight develops on the bottom of the testicles, raising it—for the testicles are like a fulcrum? And is it because the veins become full of breath [pneuma]? Or does the mass become bigger because of an increase in moisture or some change in position or from the development of moisture itself? Extremely large things are raised less when the wight of the fulcrum is far away.”

Διὰ τί ἡ σύντασις γίνεται τοῦ αἰδοίου καὶ ἡ αὔξησις; ἢ διὰ δύο, διά τε τὸ βάρος ἐπιγίνεσθαι ἐν τῷ ὄπισθεν τῶν ὄρχεων αἴρεσθαι (ὑπομόχλιον γὰρ οἱ ὄρχεις γίνονται) καὶ διὰ τὸ πνεύματος πληροῦσθαι τοὺς πόρους; ἢ τοῦ ὑγροῦ αὐξανομένου καὶ μεθισταμένου ἢ ἐξ ὑγροῦ γινομένου ὁ ὄγκος | μείζων γίνεται; τὰ λίαν δὲ μεγάλα ἧττον αἴρεται διὰ τὸ πορρωτέρω τὸ βάρος τοῦ ὑπομοχλίου γίνεσθαι.

Erectile Enhancements

For the verb βι[ν]εῖν, see this earlier post. For masturbation in ancient Greek, go here.

Etymologicum Magnum

Anaphlân: to rub genitals with your hand. Some, instead, say stuein.

     ᾿Αναφλᾶν: Χειροτρίβειν τὸ αἰδοῖον. Οἱ δὲ, στύειν.

Aristophanes, Birds 1255-56

“Iris herself—so you’ll be surprised how erect I am
Even though I am an old man, three times as good as a ship’s ram!”

τὴν ῏Ιριν αὐτήν, ὥστε θαυμάζειν ὅπως
οὕτω γέρων ὢν στύομαι τριέμβολον.

Suda, for the gloss

“Triembolon: able to strike a lot. Aristophanes”

Τριέμβολον: πολλάκις ἐμβάλλεσθαι δυνάμενον. ᾿Αριστοφάνης·

Aristophanes, Acharnians 1220

“I want to sleep. And I am erect.
And I will fuck in the dark.”

Κἀγὼ καθεύδειν βούλομαι καὶ στύομαι
καὶ σκοτοβινιῶ.

According to J. Henderson (The Maculate Muse 1991: 112) this verb is the vulgar way to talk about erections:


Image result for Ancient Greek Phallic vase

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.

A Priapic plant [=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.

Idiot Words


From the Suda

Idiôtai: Private individuals, used in place of citizens [politai]. This is how Thucydides uses it. But in the Frogs, Aristophanes calls idiots the people who are your own—“regarding strangers and idiots. It is derived from the word idios. And so idiôtês is what they call someone who is related to you by clan; but it is also an unlearned person. And in his Wealth, Aristophanes also uses idiôtikon as that which belongs to a person privately or idion as one’s own.

᾿Ιδιῶται: ἀντὶ τοῦ πολῖται. οὕτως Θουκυδίδης. ᾿Αριστοφάνης δὲ ἐν Βατράχοις ἰδιώτας τοὺς ἰδίους λέγει· περὶ τοὺς ξένους καὶ τοὺς ἰδιώτας· κατὰ παραγωγὴν ἴδιος, ἰδιώτης. ἰδιώτης δὲ λέγεται, ὁ πρὸς γένος ἴδιος, καὶ ὁ ἀμαθής. καὶ ἐν Πλούτῳ ἴδιον τὸ ἰδιωτικόν φησιν.

Some Words

ἰδιάζω: “to live as a private person”

ἰδιασμός: “peculiarity”

ἰδιόβιος: “living by or for oneself”

ἰδιόγλωσσος: “of distinct, peculiar tongue”

ἰδιογνώμων: “private opinion”

ἰδιοθανέω: “to die in a peculiar way”

ἰδιολογία: “private conversation”

ἰδιοξενία: “private friendship”

ἰδιοπάθεια: “feeling for oneself alone”

Also from the Suda

Idiôtês: someone who is illiterate. Damaskios writes about Isidore: “of all the idiots and all the philosophers of his time he was equally tight-lipped generally and he hid his thoughts. But he poured his mind out into the shared increase of virtue and the limit of vice.

᾿Ιδιώτης: ὁ ἀγράμματος. Δαμάσκιος περὶ ᾿Ισιδώρου φησί·  πάντων τῶν καθ’ αὑτὸν ἰδιωτῶν ὁμοίως καὶ φιλοσόφων ἐχέμυθος ἐς τὰ μάλιστα καὶ κρυψίνους ἦν, ἀλλ’ εἴς γε συναύξησιν τῆς ἀρετῆς καὶ τῆς κακίας μείωσιν ὅλην ἐξεκέχυτο τὴν ψυχήν.

Some More Words

ἰδιοποιέω: “to make separately” in the middle: “to appropriate to oneself”

ἰδιόσημος: “peculiar in signification”

ἰδιόστολος: “equipt at private expense”

ἰδιοσύγκριτος: “Peculiarly composed”

ἰδιόφωνος: “with one’s own voice”

ἰδιοφυής: “of peculiar nature”

ἰδιόχειρος: “written by one’s own hand”

ἰδίωμα: “a peculiarity”

Andocides, On His Return 2

“These men must be the dumbest of all people or they are the most inimical to the state. If they believe that it is also better for their private affairs when the state does well, then they are complete fools in pursuing something opposite to their own advantage right now. If they do not believe that they share common interests with you, then they must be enemies of the state”

δεῖ γὰρ αὐτοὺς ἤτοι ἀμαθεστάτους εἶναι πάντων ἀνθρώπων, ἢ τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ δυσμενεστάτους. εἰ μέν γε νομίζουσι τῆς πόλεως εὖ πραττούσης καὶ τὰ ἴδια σφῶν αὐτῶν ἄμεινον ἂν φέρεσθαι, ἀμαθέστατοί εἰσι τὰ ἐναντία νῦν τῇ ἑαυτῶν ὠφελείᾳ σπεύδοντες· εἰ δὲ μὴ ταὐτὰ ἡγοῦνται σφίσι τε αὐτοῖς συμφέρειν καὶ τῷ ὑμετέρῳ κοινῷ, δυσμενεῖς ἂν τῇ πόλει εἶεν·

Still, More Words

ἰδιωματικός: “characteristic”

ἰδίωσις: “distinction between things”

ἰδιωτεία: “private life or business”

ἰδιωτεύω: “to be a private person”

ἰδιώτης: “a private person, an individual” 2cL “unpracticed, unskilled, ignoant, ill-informed”

ἰδιωτίζω, “to put into a common language”

ἰδιωτικός: “of or for a private person”; 2: “unprofessional, rude”

ἰδιώτις: “inconsiderable”

ἰδιωτισμός: “the way or fashion of a common person”

ἰδιωφελής: “privately profitable”

 mrw boss tells task priority GIF

Epictetus, Encheiridion, 48

“The state and character of an ‘idiot’ is this: he never expects harm or help from himself, but he always looks elsewhere. This is the state and character of a philosopher: he expects all help and harm to come from himself

These are signs of someone making progress: he blames no one; praises no one; criticizes no one; impugns no one; and says nothing about himself as if he were someone or knew something. Whenever he meets an obstacle or is held back, he takes the blame. Whenever anyone praises him, he chuckles to himself while they praise. If someone criticizes him, he offers no defense. He proceeds just like the feeble, taking care not to disturb anything he is developing before it grows firm.

He has banished every desire from himself and he has admitted to disinclination only those aspects of nature which are under our control, He applies a disinterested impulse toward all things. Should he seem to be simple or unlearned, he doesn’t care. In sum, he guards against himself as if he were an enemy conspirator.”

48. Ἰδιώτου στάσις καὶ χαρακτήρ· οὐδέποτε ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ προσδοκᾷ ὠφέλειαν ἢ βλάβην, ἀλλ᾿ ἀπὸ τῶν ἔξω. φιλοσόφου στάσις καὶ χαρακτήρ· πᾶσαν ὠφέλειαν καὶ βλάβην ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ προσδοκᾷ.

Σημεῖα προκόπτοντος· οὐδένα ψέγει, οὐδένα ἐπαινεῖ, οὐδένα μέμφεται, οὐδενὶ ἐγκαλεῖ, οὐδὲν περὶ ἑαυτοῦ λέγει ὡς ὄντος τινὸς ἢ εἰδότος τι. ὅταν ἐμποδισθῇ τι ἢ κωλυθῇ, ἑαυτῷ ἐγκαλεῖ. κἄν τις αὐτὸν ἐπαινῇ, καταγελᾷ τοῦ ἐπαινοῦντος αὐτὸς παρ᾿ ἑαυτῷ· κἂν ψέγῃ, οὐκ ἀπολογεῖται. περίεισι δὲ καθάπερ οἱ ἄρρωστοι, εὐλαβούμενός τι κινῆσαι τῶν καθισταμένων, πρὶν πῆξιν λαβεῖν.

ὄρεξιν ἅπασαν ἦρκεν ἐξ ἑαυτοῦ· τὴν δ᾿ ἔκκλισιν εἰς μόνα τὰ παρὰ φύσιν τῶν ἐφ᾿ ἡμῖν μετατέθεικεν. ὁρμῇ πρὸς ἅπαντα ἀνειμένῃ χρῆται. ἂν ἠλίθιος ἢ ἀμαθὴς δοκῇ, οὐ πεφρόντικεν. ἑνί τε λόγῳ, ὡς ἐχθρὸν ἑαυτὸν παραφυλάσσει καὶ ἐπίβουλον.

From Beekes 2010




F.A.R.T: A Panfarticon of Classical Topoi for Current Events

A good suggestion for a better title:

A draft bill to leave the World Trade Organization is being called the F.air A.nd R.eciprocal T.rade Act. Here’s an aggregation of Classical passages which may or may not lend support to such esteemed and properly named legislation.

Suetonius, Divus Claudius 32

“He is even said to have considered passing an edict, by which he would give license to farting at dinner, because he had heard of a man who had nearly killed himself by holding it in for shame.”

Dicitur etiam meditatus edictum, quo veniam daret flatum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi, cum periclitatum qvendam prae pudore ex continentia repperisset.

Aristophanes, Clouds, 293

“I revere you, men of much honor, and I want to fart in reply”

καὶ σέβομαί γ’, ὦ πολυτίμητοι, καὶ βούλομαι ἀνταποπαρδεῖν

Erasmus, Adagia 3.4.2:

Everyone enjoys the smell of their own farts.’ Suus cuique crepitus bene olet

Ἕχαστος αὑτοῦ τὸ βδέμα μήλου γλύκιον ἡγεἶται ‘Each person thinks that the smell of his own fart is sweeter than an apple,’ This is to say: there is no one who doesn’t consider his own faults to be something more like virtues. Aristotle, in the ninth book of his Nichomachean Ethics, writes, ‘In many cases, those who have a thing and those who simply wish to have a thing do not value it equally. One’s own possessions, and those which he gives to others, appear to be far more valuable.’ This passage corresponds well to the famous proverb, ‘One’s own thing is beautiful to him,’ but that page has escaped my hands. I actually suspect that Apostolius drew this proverb about farting from the shit you hear among the common crowd, because I have never met anyone who enjoyed the smell of his own farts. Yet, it is true that people tend to feel more violently repulsed by someone else’s shit and farts than by the smell of their own.”

Suus cuique crepitus bene olet

Ἕχαστος αὑτοῦ τὸ βδέμα μήλου γλύκιον ἡγεἶται, id est Unusquisque suum ipsius crepitum malo suaviorem existimat. Hoc est: Nemo est, cui sua mala non videantur vel optima. Aristoteles Moralium Nicomachiorum nono: Σὰ πολλὰ γὰρ οὐ τὸ ἴσον τιμῶσιν οἱ ἔχοντες καὶ οἱ βουλόμενοι λαβεἶν. Σὰ γὰρ οἰκεἶα καὶ ἃ διδόασιν ἑκάστοις φαίνεται πολλοῦ ἄξια, id est Pleraque enim non eodem pretio aestimantur ab his qui habent et ab his qui cupiunt accipere. Nam sua cuique et quae dat videntur esse multi pretii. Hic locus magis congruebat proverbio Suum cuique pulchrum, sed ea pagina jam exierat manus meas. Proverbium de crepitu suspicor ab Apostolio e vulgi fece haustum ; nondum enim quemquam reperi, cui suus crepitus bene oleret. Illud verum est homines vehementius abhorrere ab alienis excrementis et crepitu quam a suis.

Aristophanes, Peace 335

“I am in joy, and I am delighted! and I fart and I laugh…”

ἥδομαι γὰρ καὶ γέγηθα καὶ πέπορδα καὶ γελῶ

Cicero, de Divinatione 1.30

“Plato therefore encourages people to go to sleep with their bodies thus disposed that there be nothing which could introduce any wandering from or disturbance of sleep. From which it is thought that the Pythagoreans prohibited the consumption of beans, because that food causes a great flatulence which is contrary to the tranquility of a mind seeking the truth.”

Iubet igitur Plato sic ad somnum proficisci corporibus adfectis, ut nihil sit, quod errorem animis perturbationemque adferat. Ex quo etiam Pythagoreis interdictum putatur, ne faba vescerentur, quod habet infiationem magnam is cibus tranquillitati mentis quaerenti vera contrariam.

Nicarchus, Greek Anth. 395

“A fart with nowhere to go kills many men
a fart even saves when its hisses as it sings.
If, then, a fart can save or kill again,
a fart has power the equal of kings.”

Πορδὴ ἀποκτέννει πολλοὺς ἀδιέξοδος οὖσα·
πορδὴ καὶ σώζει τραυλὸν ἱεῖσα μέλος.
οὐκοῦν εἰ σώζει, καὶ ἀποκτέννει πάλι πορδή,
τοῖς βασιλεῦσιν ἴσην πορδὴ ἔχει δύναμιν.

Illuminated MSS

Athenaeus, 3 (102 F = Damoxenus, fr. 2)

“take each thing and fart on it in turn”

….λαβὼν / ἕκαστον αὐτῶν κατὰ μέρος προσπαρδέτ᾿.

Martial, Epigrams 40.3

“You fart, I ignore it….”

pedis: dissimulo….

Popular Mime, Fr. 6

“Throw a fart”

πορδὴν βάλε

The Greek verb for farting, perdesthai, is cognate with Latin podex (“anus”) and the English verb fart. Greek has several synonyms on a sliding scale of politeness. This restores my faith in the expressive range of Ancient Greek so shaken by the absence of words for “sleep-walking” or “sleep-talking”.

Bdennusthai: This means to evacuate one’s stomach, not to fart. This is also used locally in our time, for we say “he farts” (bdei)

Βδέννυσθαι: ἐκκενοῦσθαι τὴν κοιλίαν σημαίνει, οὐ τὸ πέρδεσθαι. ὃ καὶ ἐπιχωριάζει μέχρι τοῦ νῦν: βδέει γὰρ λέγομεν.

Skordinâsthai: This means to stretch ones limbs beyond the limits of nature nwhile yawning from weariness. Aristophanes says in the Acharnians: “I groan, I yawn, I stretch, I fart.” Some people use this verb for people waking from sleep, when they yawn and stretch their limbs. This is also used of people who twist their timbs and test them in every direction”

Σκορδινᾶσθαι: τὸ παρὰ φύσιν ἀποτείνειν τὰ μέλη μετὰ τοῦ χασμᾶσθαι διακλώμενον. Ἀριστοφάνης Ἀχαρνεῦσι: στένω, κέχηνα, σκορδινῶμαι, πέρδομαι. τινὲς δὲ περὶ τοὺς ἐγειρομένους ἐξ ὕπνου, ὅταν χασμώδεις ὄντες ἐκτείνουσι τὰ μέλη: ὅπερ συμβαίνει καὶ περὶ τοὺς ἄλλως πως βασανιζομένους καὶ διαστρεφομένους τὰ μέλη.

Apopnein and diapnein: “breathing out” and “releasing air”. These words mean to fart, but they are more polite than apopsophein (“breaking wind”).

Ἀποπνέω: γενικῇ. Ἀποπνεῖν καὶ διαπνεῖν τὸ πέρδεσθαι, εὐσχημονέστερον τοῦ ἀποψοφεῖν.

Apopsophiein: This means “to fart”, but it is more respectable. Even more polite are the words diapnein and apopnein.

᾿Αποψοφιεῖν: τὸ πέρδεσθαι, εὐσχήμως λέγων. εὐσχημονέστερον δὲ διαπνεῖν καὶ ἀποπνεῖν.

Petronius, Satyricon 47

“Pardon me, friends. My stomach has not been well for days, and the doctors don’t know what they’re about. Yet, pomegranate and pine with vinegar have done me good. Yet, I hope that my bowels will resume their old sense of shame. Otherwise, my stomach will sound so loud that you’d think it was a bull! So, if any of you wish to attend to personal business, don’t feel ashamed. No one of us is solidly born, and I think that there is no greater torment than to hold it in. Farting is the one thing which even Jupiter cannot forbid. I see you laughing, Fortunata, but you often wake me up at night with your blasts. So, I don’t forbid anyone in the dining room to do what will come as a relief, and doctors urge us not to hold it in. And, if anything more than just a fart should come upon you, everything is ready outside: water, some pots, and other accessories. Believe me, if a vapor wafts up into your brain, it will make a wave in your entire body. I know that many have died because they did not wish to speak the truth.”

“Ignoscite mihi, inquit, amici, multis iam diebus venter mihi non respondit. Nec medici se inveniunt. Profuit mihi tamen maleicorium et taeda ex aceto. Spero tamen, iam veterem pudorem sibi imponet. Alioquin circa stomachum mihi sonat, putes taurum. Itaque si quis vestrum voluerit sua re causa facere, non est quod illum pudeatur. Nemo nostrum solide natus est. Ego nullum puto tam magnum tormentum esse quam continere. Hoc solum vetare ne Iovis potest. Rides, Fortunata, quae soles me nocte desomnem facere? Nec tamen in triclinio ullum vetuo facere quod se iuvet, et medici vetant continere. Vel si quid plus venit, omnia foras parata sunt: aqua, lasani et cetera minutalia. Credite mihi, anathymiasis si in cerebrum it, et in toto corpore fluctum facit. Multos scio periisse, dum nolunt sibi verum dicere.”

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