Muthōdē

Roman-Bronze-Phallus-Tintinnabulum-Pendant

Οἱ δὲ μυθώδη παντάπασι περὶ τῆς γενέσεως διεξίασι. Ταρχετίῳ γάρ, Ἀλβανῶν βασιλεῖ παρανομωτάτῳ καὶ ὠμοτάτῳ, φάσμα δαιμόνιον οἴκοι γενέσθαι· φαλλὸν γὰρ ἐκ τῆς ἑστίας ἀνασχεῖν καὶ διαμένειν ἐπὶ πολλὰς ἡμέρας. εἶναι δὲ Τηθύος ἐν Τυρρηνίᾳ χρηστήριον, ἀφ’ οὗ κομισθῆναι τῷ Ταρχετίῳ χρησμόν, ὥστε συμμεῖξαι τῷ φάσματι παρθένον· ἔσεσθαι γὰρ ἐξ αὐτῆς παῖδα κλεινότατον, ἀρετῇ καὶ τύχη καὶ ῥώμῃ διαφέροντα. φράσαντος οὖν τὸ μάντευμα τοῦ Ταρχετίου μιᾷ τῶν θυγατέρων καὶ συγγενέσθαι τῷ φαλλῷ προστάξαντος, αὐτὴν μὲν ἀπαξιῶσαι, θεράπαιναν δ’ εἰσπέμψαι. τὸν δὲ Ταρχέτιον ὡς ἔγνω χαλεπῶς φέροντα συλλαβεῖν μὲν ἀμφοτέρας ἐπὶ θανάτῳ, τὴν δ’ Ἑστίαν ἰδόντα κατὰ τοὺς ὕπνους ἀπαγορεύουσαν αὐτῷ τὸν φόνον, ἱστόν τινα παρεγγυῆσαι ταῖς κόραις ὑφαίνειν δεδεμέναις, ὡς ὅταν ἐξυφήνωσι, τότε δοθησομένας πρὸς γάμον. ἐκείνας μὲν οὖν δι’ ἡμέρας ὑφαίνειν, ἑτέρας δὲ νύκτωρ τοῦ Ταρχετίου κελεύοντος ἀναλύειν τὸν ἱστόν. ἐκ δὲ τοῦ φαλλοῦ τῆς θεραπαινίδος τεκούσης δίδυμα, δοῦναί τινι Τερατίῳ τὸν Ταρχέτιον, ἀνελεῖν κελεύσαντα. τὸν δὲ θεῖναι φέροντα τοῦ ποταμοῦ πλησίον, εἶτα λύκαιναν μὲν ἐπιφοιτᾶν μαστὸν ἐνδιδοῦσαν, ὄρνιθας δὲ παντοδαποὺς ψωμίσματα κομίζοντας ἐντιθέναι τοῖς βρέφεσιν, ἄχρι οὗ βουκόλον ἰδόντα καὶ θαυμάσαντα τολμῆσαι προσελθεῖν καὶ ἀνελέσθαι τὰ παιδία. τοιαύτης δὲ τῆς σωτηρίας αὐτοῖς γενομένης, ἐκτραφέντας ἐπιθέσθαι τῷ Ταρχετίῳ καὶ κρατῆσαι. ταῦτα μὲν οὖν Προμαθίων τις, ἱστορίαν Ἰταλικὴν συντεταγμένος, εἴρηκε.
(Plutarch, Vita Romuli 2.3-6)

…and others still rehearse what is altogether fabulous concerning his origin. For instance, they say that Tarchetius, king of the Albans, who was most lawless and cruel, was visited with a strange phantom in his house, namely, a phallus rising out of the hearth and remaining there many days. Now there was an oracle of Tethys in Tuscany, from which there was brought to Tarchetius a response that a virgin must have intercourse with this phantom, and she should bear a son most illustrious for his valour, and of surpassing good fortune and strength. Tarchetius, accordingly, told the prophecy to one of his daughters, and bade her consort with the phantom; but she disdained to do so, and sent a handmaid in to it. When Tarchetius learned of this, he was wroth, and seized both the maidens, purposing to put them to death. But the goddess Hestia appeared to him in his sleep and forbade him the murder. He therefore imposed upon the maidens the weaving of a certain web in their imprisonment, assuring them that when they had finished the weaving of it, they should then be given in marriage. By day, then, these maidens wove, but by night other maidens, at the command of Tarchetius, unravelled their web. And when the handmaid became the mother of twin children by the phantom, Tarchetius gave them to a certain Teratius with orders to destroy them. This man, however, carried them to the river-side and laid them down there. Then a she-wolf visited the babes and gave them suck, while all sorts of birds brought morsels of food and put them into their mouths, until a cow-herd spied them, conquered his amazement, ventured to come to them, and took the children home with him. Thus they were saved, and when they were grown up, they set upon Tarchetius and overcame him. At any rate, this is what a certain Promathion says, who compiled a history of Italy. (tr. Bernadotte Perrin)

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