Saturday, December 11, 2021

Ancient Greek Kinkiness Updated



Today I planned on posting an erudite essay on the current state of Greece as my contribution to a week that’s seen Cara take a well-earned respite from posting, and welcomed Ovidia to the MIE team.  However, in keeping with “the dog ate my homework” style of excuse, I can rightly claim that “a cat fogged up those intentions” -- that’s “cat” as in cataract surgery.  All went well, but reading is still a bit iffy until the second cataract is dealt with in ten days. 

But all is not lost. Since the time of the 2020 US Elections—remember those days–I’ve been on a number of mailing lists that I just ignore rather than struggle to unsubscribe. Some have obvious political agendas, others less so, but I ignore them all.

This morning one called Medium Daily Digest popped up on my browser with an article written by “Sal Writes” bearing this teaser: “10 Disturbing Practices That Were Considered Normal in Ancient Greece--From working out naked and selling sweat to having pedophilic relationships.”

In part, the author describes them as “many mind-blowing facts about the Ancient Greeks that are not as well-known as the parts of their society… integrated into modern societies today.”

How could I possibly pass that up on sharing that with our readers? For those interested in reading the unexpurgated version of Mr. Write’s essay, I’ll post a link to the entire article at the end of my post.  

But here’s my take on the gist of those ten practices, plus my observations on their continuing influence in the modern world.

1. Severe Punishments for Infidelity

According to Ancient Greeks, adultery was significantly worse than rape; they believed that rape was a typical form of violent behavior, one that was a fact of life. For them, it did not refer to violence against the consent of an individual, but against that individual’s protector whose ‘property’ had been damaged and tainted…

Adultery, on the other hand, was an entirely different case; it referred to “the seduction of a free woman under the protection of a kyrios (lord or teacher)”… that … had a direct impact on the family, an institution that was prized above all others in Ancient Greek society.

If the adulterer was caught in the act, the protector had the legal right to kill him right there. If the case was dealt with in court, the adulterer would have a large radish inserted into their anus. This was complemented with the removal of the accused’s pubic hair with hot ash. Each of these punishments aimed to feminize the adulterer as an act of humiliation.


JS.  I know, you’re expecting me to riff on about the radish and hot ash routine, but I’ll save that for perhaps the tail end of a short story. The truly tragic part of this is not the punishment, but that in many parts of our world those same attitudes toward women as chattels, and rape remain an accepted form of behavior.  As for adultery, stone throwers appear a decidedly waning breed.  



2. Monetary Payment for an Afterlife


According to an Ancient Greek afterlife myth, all individuals who died had to pay Charon, the ferryman of River Styx, to reach the underworld…those who were unable to pay the fare, their souls were left to aimlessly wander the shores of River Styx for a hundred years before being permitted to cross the river.

Buying one’s way into the promised land continues to this day, shepherded by any number of new ferrymen (and women) prepared to accept payment for the promised passage.

3. Working Out Naked and Selling Sweat

The Ancient Greeks were particularly interested in honing their bodies and obsessing over their physiques. While working out, the men would remove all of their clothing, pour oil over their bodies, and exercise naked…Gymnasiums were of the utmost importance to the Ancient Greeks…After they had finished working out, the men would scrape the oil and dead skin off with a semi-circular tool called a ‘strigil.’ Their scrapings were prized possessions that would be sold to the public as elixirs.

JS.  Today, it’s all gym memberships and Peloton-style workout sessions in outfits almost as skimpy as bare skin, plus nude beaches in the summertime. And let’s not forget the plethora of elixirs marketed as magical skin beauty products created from who know what’s been scraped together.

4. Poorly Endowed Greek Male Statues

Despite the fact that they prized well-built and masculine bodies in males, the Ancient Greeks preferred the opposite for their genitals. The Greek statues that we observe in museums today are all poorly endowed because a larger, girthy, and erect penis represented idiocy and lack of control, while a small and flaccid one symbolized self-restraint and intelligence. In fact, when actors in Ancient Greece went on stage to play the role of a fool, they wore comically oversized prop penises.

JS.  Sounds like propaganda to me that continues to this day.  Do any of you remember the Seinfeld episode where George Costanza talks about “shrinkage?”

5. Belief in Zombies

The zombie craze is not one that is new to the world“The writings of ancient authors give us a glimpse into the minds and beliefs of the Greeks and it is clear that many members of the society thought that the dead could roam the earth… [they] imagined scenarios in which reanimated corpses rose from their graves, prowled the streets and stalked unsuspecting victims, often to exact retribution denied to them in life.”

JS.  Thank you, George Romero.  Considering the continuing wild popularity of Zombie films (and politicians), it seems things aren’t much different these days.

6. Normalized Pedophilic Relationships

While we know the practice of pedophilia to be illegal and morally abhorrent, many of the Ancient Greeks not only participated in pedophilic relationships but celebrated them. The phenomenon was considered to be a rite of passage for the youngsters involved.

JS.  And today we have Jeffrey Epstein and the like.  Plus, child brides bought and sold as young as three years old.

7. Bizarre Festivals

For the Ancient Greeks, festivals were periods during which they performed and participated in activities that were meant to allow them to communicate with the supernatural world. These festivals were marked by several unique and often bizarre cultural rituals, traditions, and rites that consisted of athletic events, sacrifices, elaborate musical performances, and extravagant feasts.

JS. Sounds pretty much like any weekend gathering of fans for a bigtime college or NFL football team tailgate party. Especially the praying part for Pittsburgh Steelers fans.  And yes, World Cup Fanatics.

8. Infanticide by Exposure

Even though the Ancient Greeks considered infanticide to be a barbaric act and condemned it, they did practice exposure to deal with babies that were unwanted either because of physical defects or their gender. The practice was not considered murder because they believed that if the gods wanted to save the child, they would intervene in some way.

JS.  This is a pretty heavy topic, but for those who are against abortion but also are against providing health care, food assistance, and pre-school to children born disadvantaged, how is that any more meaningfully different from leaving the unwanted open to the elements in the hope God will intervene?

. Odd Contraceptive Practices

Women in Ancient Greece often used olive and cedar oils to lower the mobility of the sperm of their sexual partners…Other contraceptive practices …included sneezing.

JS.  GESUNDHEIT to all concerned.

Tasting Bodily Fluids to Perform Diagnoses

According to medicine in Ancient Greece, the human body consisted of various fluids, all of which tasted different; they believed that doctors needed to be able to identify each of these bodily fluids by their taste and appearance.

JS.  I shall not describe the specific fluids and tastes covered by this procedure. If you really must know, click here.



That’s all folks.  See you next week.




  1. Best wishes for your eyes! (And thanks for the humor, boatloads are required these days, crossing the styx or not.)

    1. I agree, and for that reason he only movement I wholeheartedly support these days, EvKa, is "Birds Aren't Real."

  2. I'm sorry, I rather skimmed throughmost of this, because my mind kept going back to the first sectionon adultery; I keep trying to figure out how the measures taken would 'feminize' the perpetrator... rear-end radishes? They should havelost more than hair for that matter,btw.

    1. "The Punishment of the Radish," done in 1861, is the name of the painting introducing that subject. I, too, couldn't figure out what the writer meant to say, as I found the pronouns employed confusing. After a bit of research revealed the punishment was only dealt out against females of non-noble birth, the description left me even more confused as to how it "feminized" the perpetrator. Still, as horrific as that practice sounds, there are parts of the world where even worse horrors are perpetrated to this day against wholly innocent females--such as forced circumcision.