Phallos

Winged phallus of Dionysus

Φαλλός· ξύλον ἐπίμηκες, ἔχον ἐν τῷ ἄκρῳ σκύτινον αἰδοῖον ἐξηρτημένον. ἵστατο δὲ ὁ φάλλος τῷ Διονύσῳ, κατά τι μυστήριον. περὶ δὲ αὐτοῦ τοῦ φαλλοῦ τοιαῦτα λέγεται. Πήγασος ἐκ τῶν Ἐλευθερῶν, αἱ δὲ Ἐλευθεραὶ πόλις εἰσὶ Βοιωτίας, λαβὼν τοῦ Διονύσου τὸ ἄγαλμα ἧκεν εἰς τὴν Ἀττικήν. οἱ δὲ Ἀθηναῖοι οὐκ ἐδέξαντο μετὰ τιμῆς τὸν θεόν. ἀλλ’ οὐκ ἀμισθί γε αὐτοῖς ταῦτα βουλευσαμένοις ἀπέβη. μηνίσαντος γὰρ τοῦ θεοῦ νόσος κατέσκηψεν εἰς τὰ αἰδοῖα τῶν ἀνδρῶν, καὶ τὸ δεινὸν ἀνήκεστον ἦν. ὡς δὲ ἀπεῖπον πρὸς τὴν νόσον κρείττω γενομένην πάσης ἀνθρωπείας μαγγανείας καὶ τέχνης, ἀπεστάλησαν θεωροὶ μετὰ σπουδῆς· οἳ δὴ ἐπανελθόντες ἔφασαν ἴασιν ταύτην εἶναι μόνην, εἰ διὰ τιμῆς ἁπάσης ἄγοιεν τὸν θεόν. πεισθέντες οὖν τοῖς ἠγγελμένοις οἱ Ἀθηναῖοι φαλλοὺς ἰδίᾳ τε καὶ δημοσίᾳ κατεσκεύασαν, καὶ τούτοις ἐγέραιρον τὸν θεὸν, ὑπόμνημα ποιούμενοι τοῦ πάθους.
(Scholia in Aristophanis Acharnenses 243)

A phallus is a large wooden beam with a leather penis attached at the end. The phallus was erected for Dionysus in accordance with one of his mysterious rites. The following story is told about the phallus itself: Pegasus brought the statue of Dionysus from Eleutherae (a town in Boeotia) to Attica. The Athenians however didn’t give the god a respectful welcomebut those responsible paid dearly for that decision. The god got angry and a disease struck the men’s genitals. There was no cure againt this disaster. As they succumbed to the illness, which had become too strong for any human skill or magic, envoys were rapidly dispatched to consult the oracle. On their return they said that the only possible remedy was that they should carry around the god in full honour. Obeying this message, the Athenians constructed phalluses both privately and at public expense, and with these they payed homage to the god, by turning them into a memorial of their suffering. (tr. David Bauwens)

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