From Fortean Times 201 (Summer 2005):

Some antique affinities to FT192:8's miscellany of chopped choppers.

Pharoah Merneptah's Karnak inscription (c.1220BC) inventories 13,230 captured male organs - penile servitude indeed. Greek 'Bobbitting' begins with Hesiod's account (Theogony, v159-200) of how Cronos under maternal orders lopped off his father Uranus's crown jewels with a flint sickle and tossed them into the sea - Aphrodite was born from their resultant spume. Genital-religious associations recur, pagan and Christian. Leviticus 21.10 forbids monorchids ("bath his stones broken" - King James version) to approach the altar. Unknown vandals (FT191:16) chose to deface phallic statues of Hermes. Athenagoras (Legatio, ch21) recommends the castration of pagan gods as proof they are not divine.

Fanatic followers of Cybele often self-castrated, evoking the bilateral scorn of Seneca (fr34) quoted by Augustine, City of God, bk6 ch10 para2; cf. Pliny (Natural History, bkll ch109 para261) who elsewhere (bkll ch100 para263) says human testicles are uniquely crushable by injury or natural causes. Catullus penned a poem (no.63) about one such devotee, Attis. Church Father Origen de-balled himself through an over-literal interpretation of Matthew 19.12 ("There be eunuchs which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake") - "judged it prudent to disarm the tempter," gibed Edward Gibbon (DFRE, ch15). Augustine (Confessions, bk8 ch8) considered and rejected this cure for youthful lusts.

Periander, tyrant of Corinth, ordered 300 boys castrated for the lucrative (severance pay?) eunuch market (Herodotus, Histories, bk3 ch48). According to Pliny (bk9 ch41 para80), they were rescued by murex fish stopping the boat through deliberately clinging to its sides. Panionius, a notorious eunuch-merchant, castrated Hermogenes. Falling afterwards into the latter's clutches, he was obliged to un-man his four sons, who were then forced to reciprocate (Herodotus, bk8 chs105-6) - the balls were now clearly in the other court.

Domitian (Suetonius, Life, ch7) banned castration. It was also illegal in Byzantium. But the law was an ass. Christian martyrs were often mutilated, also homosexuals and bestialists. Though figures of fun (Gibbon, ch19, rails against "this imperfect species"), eunuchs had top court jobs reserved for them. Several Byzantine patriarchs were non-orchid (like Goebbels in the British army song), likewise Justinian's generals Narses and Solomon. The latter was unlucky; losing his infant tackle "through an accident with the bedclothes" (Procopius, Histories, bk3 chll para6).

Over in the West, Geoffrey, father of Henry II, as Gibbon (ch59) tells it, "ordered all the Chapter of Seez, with the bishop-elect, to be castrated, and made all their testicles be brought him in a platter. Of the pain and 'danger they might justly complain; yet, since they had vowed chastity he deprived them of superfluous treasure".

Castration was a punishment for Roman adulterers (Horace, Satires, bkl not v45), whereas the Hellenic reprisal was to stuff a radish up the culprit's arse - a fundamental difference. Lucilius (Satires, bk7 frs303-5) mentions a Roman who "lopped off his cock and cods to spite the wicked woman;" Varro (Menippean Satires, v235) also alludes to a self-castrator.

Nero (Suetonius, Life, ch28 para1; Dio Cassius, Roman History, bk63 ch12 paras4-13) castrated and married the boy Sporus because of his resemblance to wife Poppaea, whom he kicked to death while pregnant - an unorthodox venture into same-sex unions. Roman wags remarked that the world would have been better if Nero's father had had such a wife.

The Byzantine princess-historian Anna Comnena shall be our figurative ball-breaker. Angry at her husband's timidity, which had spoiled their would-be coup d'etat, she (Nicetas Choniates, Chronicle, bkl chlO) "felt justified in strongly contracting her vagina when his penis entered deep inside her, thus causing him great pain" - a meat-and-vag case of sexual politics.

"Never Mind the Bollocks" - Sex Pistols

Barry Baldwin
(reprinted with permission of the Author; blame any typically graphic transcription errors on dm)