Monday, January 30, 2012

The Romans NEVER CRUCIFIED the Way We Think They Did! 7


Part 6 - From Wax Image to Exposed Body.
Part 5 - The First Crucifix.
Part 4 - The Tropaeum and the Furca.
Part 3 - Crux - Modern English Use and Ancient Quotidian Meanings.
Part 2 - Crux.
Part 1.

Part 7 - Crucifixion and Priapus.

A. Introduction.

A while back, I got a long series of posts from John Thomas Didymus, who supplied me with a wealth of information about the Roman household, garden and agricultural god, Priapus. He was always threatening garden-variety thieves (ouch, that was a terrible joke) with rape, sodomy, or irrumation depending on the sex and age of the thief. It turns out, he was also the god of merchant sailing, navigable waterways and roadways. So without further ado, I will post what he had written, and expand upon it.

From John Thomas Didymus --
Ed you've made my day with the discovery of your blog. There is so much material to absorb that I am still trying to decide where to start. Great you know Latin -- I can't tell it from Chinese!! I will be feeding you back as I rummage thru your site systematically!!

Quote: "When the artificer, in doubt whether he should make a stool or a Priapus of me, determined that I should be a God. Henceforward I became a God, the greatest terror of thieves and birds: for my right hand restrains thieves, and a bloody looking pole on my frightful middle: but a reed fixed upon the crown of my head** terrifies the mischievous birds, and hinders them from settling in these new gardens.

(Priapus was also used as farmer's scarecrow evidently)

(your comment--** "in vertice harundo, lit. a reed, or a crown or wreath of reeds, upon the crown of the head. The similarity to the crown of thorns on the head of Jesus in the gospels is uncanny!")

My comments: This text set me thinking -- that what is being described in figurative language here is the Roman practice of impaling criminals on Priapus i.e., in actual fact, the figure of the fertility daemon Priapus was the model for the the crux on which criminals were impaled. The text "When the artificer, in doubt etc..." has "uncanny" similarities to the crucifixion and the crown of thorns because the Jesus was not fixed a crown of thorns incidentally, it was the regular Roman practice when criminals were impaled on the Priapus-crux to fix them with a "scarecrow wreath." That is, the impaling stake -- the crux -- was Priapus himself punishing the criminal who trespassed on the farmer's field!!!
Actually and unfortunately, we do not know about the Romans routinely pushing crowns of thorns upon crucified people's heads. Neither does it show up in the ancient texts except the Gospels and the writings of the Church Fathers. And it wasn't to keep the birds away, birds were usually allowed to feed on the crucified persons, perhaps even when still alive. But they could have supplied them sometimes to keep men from knocking themselves unconscious. This will have to be the subject of my next post.

And it is true, Priapus punished thieves with his "bloody-looking pole" or palus obsceno.

B. Priapus, Protector of the Pax Domestica.

As Priapus as recognized in his scarecrow / statue form was the protector of the pax domestica, just as the Roman execution pole / cross, was the de facto protector of the Pax Romana. And just as every hardened criminal was impaled on an acuta-crux, whether a simple stake or an outrigged spike that served as the seat of the gallows, so too Priapus threatened garden-variety thieves with his inordinately long membrum virile.

Mr. Didymus continues:
Here is the evidence from wikipedia that Priapus was deity who punished criminals or trespassers with his phallus-crux:

(Quote from wikipedia:)

Priapus' iconic attribute was his priapism (permanently erect penis); he probably absorbed some pre-existing ithyphallic deities as his cult developed. He was represented in a variety of ways, most commonly as a misshapen gnome-like figure with an enormous erect phallus. Statues of Priapus were common in ancient Greece and Rome, standing in gardens or at doorways and crossroads. To propitiate Priapus, the traveller would stroke the statue's penis as he passed by. The Athenians often conflated Priapus with Hermes, the god of boundaries, and depicted a hybrid deity with a winged helmet, sandals and huge erection.[7]

Statues of Priapus were often hung with signs bearing epigrams, collected in Priapeia (treated below), which threatened sexual assault towards transgressors of the boundaries that he protected:

Percidere, puer, moneo; futuere, puella;
barbatum furem tertia poena manet.
Femina si furtum faciet mihi virve puerve,
haec cunnum, caput hic praebeat, ille nates.
Per medios ibit pueros mediasque puellas
mentula, barbatis non nisi summa petet.


I warn you, boy, you will be screwed; girl, you will be fucked;
a third penalty awaits the bearded thief.
If a woman steals from me, or a man, or a boy,
let the first give me her cunt, the second his head, the third his buttocks.
My dick will go through the middle of boys and the middle of girls,
but with bearded men it will aim only for the top.[16]

Another example comes from the works of Martial (6.73):

Non rudis indocta fecit me falce colonus:
Dispensatoris nobile cernis opus.
Nam Caeretani cultor ditissimus agri
Hos Hilarus colles et iuga laeta tenet.
Adspice, quam certo videar non ligneus ore,
Nec devota focis inguinis arma geram:
Sed mihi perpetua nunquam moritura cupresso
Phidiaci rigeat mentala digna manu.
Vicini, moneo, sanctum celebrate Priapum,
Et bis septenis parcite iugeribus.


I am not hewn from fragile elm, nor is my member which stands stiff with a rigid shaft made from just any old wood. It is begotten from everlasting cypress, which fears not the passage of a hundred celestial ages nor the decay of advanced years. Fear this, evil doer, whoever you are. If your thieving rod harms the smallest shoots of this here vine, like it or not, this cypress rod will penetrate [i.e. sodomize] and plant a fig in you.[17]

My take: the Romans impaled thieves and criminals on the crux designed as a symbol of Priapus punishing the thief, and the "ritual" usually involved a "crown of thorns"--the fact that we are told that Jesus wore a "scarecrow wreath" on his execution pole is very strong line of evidence that Jesus was executed on a "cross" which had a sedile-seat modified into pointed phallic crux; he was actually "sodomized" to death on a Priapus stake "with a reed fixed upon the crown of [his] head" to indicate that he was a sacrificial victim to Priapus.
And indeed, there are more Priapean epigrams that refer to the sodomizing of thieves who steal into gardens, fields and orchards in order to steal stuff.

From the Internet Sacred texts Archive -- The Priapeia:

Epigram 10:
Ne prendare, cave, prenso nec fuste nocebo,
saeva nec incurva vulnera falce dabo:
traiectus conto sic extendere pedali,
ut culum rugam non habuisse putes.

'Ware of my catching! If caught, with rod I never will harm thee
Nor to thee deal sore wound using my sickle that curves.
Pierced with a foot-long pole thy skin shall be stretched in such fashion
Thou shalt be fain to believe ne'er had a wrinkle thine arse.


Take heed lest thou art caught. If I do seize thee, nor with my club will I belabour thee, nor cruel wounds with the curved sickle will inflict on thee. Thrust into by my twelve-inch I pole, thou shalt be so stretched that thou wilt drink* thy anus never had any wrinkles!


Epigram 16:

Quid mecum tibi, circitor moleste?
ad me quid prohibes venire furem?
accedat, sine: laxior redibit.

What hast thou, meddling watch, with me to do?
Why baulk the robber who to me would come?
Let him draw nigh: the laxer shall he go.


What hast thou to do with me, thou meddlesome watchman? why dost thou hinder the thief from coming to me? Let him approach: he will return more 'open'!

Epigram 24:
Hoc sceptrum, quod ab arbore est recisum,
nulla iam poterit virere fronde,
sceptrum, quod pathicae petunt puellae,
quod quidam cupiunt tenere reges,
cui dant oscula nobiles cinaedi,
intra viscera furis ibit usque
ad pubem capulumque coleorum.

This staff of office cut from tree as 'tis,
No more with leafage green for aye to bloom;
Staff by the pathic damsels fondly loved,
Which e'en the kings delight in hand to hold
And oft by noble catamites bekissed--
This staff in robbers' vitals deep shall plunge
Up to its bushy base and bag of balls.


This staff of office, which, severed from the tree, can now shoot forth no verdure; sceptre, which pathic maidens crave, and some kings love to hold; to which patrician [1] paederasts [2] give kisses; shall go right into the very bowels of the thief, as far as the hair and the bag of balls. [3]

Epigram 31:

Donec proterva nil mei manu carpes,
licebit ipsa sis pudicior Vesta.
sin, haec mei te ventris arma laxabunt,
exire ut ipse de tuo queas culo.

Long as thy wanton hand to pluck refrain
Chaster than Vesta's self thou may'st remain
Else thee my belly's arm shall loosen so
Out of thy proper anus thou shalt flow.


So long as thou snatchest nothing from me with audacious hand, thou mayst be chaster than Vesta herself. But, if thou dost, these belly-weapons of mine will so stretch thee that thou wilt be able to slip through thy own anus.

Epigram 52 (three men forcing a fourth, a thief, to receive a donkey after having their way with him):

Heus tu, non bene qui manum rapacem
mandato mihi contines ab horto,
iam primum stator hic libidinosus
alternis et eundo et exeundo
porta te faciet patentiorem.
accedent duo, qui latus tuentur,
pulchre pensilibus peculiati;
qui cum te male foderint iacentem,
ad partes veniet salax asellus
nilo deterius mutuniatus.
quare qui sapiet, malum cavebit,
cum tantum sciet esse mentularum.

Ho thou, which hardly thy rapacious hand
Canst from the garden in my charge contain,
First shall this watchman, ever lustful loon,
Entering and exiting alternate-wise
Widen thy portal to its fullest stretch
Then shall the couple guarding either flank,
Grandly provided with those pensile parts,
After they've sorely pierced thee prostrate thrown
Bring to the self-same part an ass-foal lewd
Gifted with pizzle not a whit the worse.
Then who is wise beware of working ill,
Knowing so much of pego waits him here.


Hark ye, thou who scarcely withholdest thy greedy hand from the garden entrusted to me. Now, first the watchman, full of lechery, with alternate entrance and exit, shall make thy passage an open one. Then two shall approach, who stand guard at each side, nobly provided with pensile property. Who, when they have grievously ploughed thee, stretched prostrate, to the same part shall come a rampant little ass, by no means inferior in well-hung pizzle. Wherefore, he who is wise will beware of ill-doing, when he knows that here is so much of the mentule.

Epigram 87 (last part -- Priapus' phallus as a crux):

Proin, viator, hunc deum vereberis
manumque sursum habebis. Hoc tibi expedit,
parata namque crux stat ecce mentula.
"Velim pol" inquis? At pol ecce vilicus
venit, valente cui revulsa bracchio
fit ista mentula apta clava dexterae.

Hence of such Godhead (traveller!), stand in awe;
Best it befits thee off to keep thy hands.
Thy crux is ready, shaped as artless yard;
'I'm willing 'faith' (thou say'st) but 'faith here comes
The boor and plucking forth with bended arm
Makes of this tool a club for doughty hand.


Hence, warfarer, thou shalt be in awe of this god, and it will be profitable to thee to keep thy hands off. For a punishment is prepared--a roughly-shaped mentule. 'Truly, I am willing,' thou sayest; then, truly, behold the farmer comes, and that same mentule plucked from my groin will become. an apt cudgel in his strong right hand.[4]

Clearly, if thieves out in the country were threatened with penetration and it was considered a kind of 'crucifixion', then what would the state have done to armed robbers, pirates, insurrectionists, spies, traitors, defectors from the military, and the like when they were sentenced to be crucified?

Again, we don't have much, if any, evidence for a scarecrow wreath being routinely used for crucifixions. But it might have been done sometimes (Pozzuoli has no such wreath, neither does Alexamenos). All we have are the New Testament accounts and the writings of the Church Fathers. The accounts in the NT just say he was crucified. The Ante-Nicene Church Fathers who gave a description of the cross indicate the crucifixion was typical: with the cornu.

C. Priapus as a Versatile Protector and Guide.

Priapus was also a god of the waterways, as he was a god of merchant sailing.

From wikipedia's Priapus - Patron of merchant sailing, forwarded by Mr. Didymus:

Priapus’ role as a patron god for merchant sailors in ancient Greece and Rome is that of a protector and navigational aide. Recent shipwreck evidence contains apotropaic items carried onboard by mariners in the forms of a terracotta phallus, wooden Priapus figure, and bronze sheath from a military ram. Coinciding with the use of wooden Priapic markers erected in areas of dangerous passage or particular landing areas for sailors, the function of Priapus is much more extensive than previously thought.[22]

...Priapus’ protection traits can be traced back to the importance placed on the phallus in ancient times (particularly his association with fertility and garden protection).[22] In Greece, the phallus was thought of to have a mind of its own, animal-like, separate from the mind and control of the man.[24] Represented in its erect form, the phallus was present in almost every aspect of daily life, reaffirming the male-dominant state of affairs in its overt presence.[25] The phallus is also associated with “possession and territorial demarcation” in many cultures, attributing to Priapus’ other role as a navigational deity.[22]

Indeed, the phallus was considered an apotropaic symbol that warded off evil [8], derived from the Greek verb ἀποτρέπω, which means "turn away from" and the Greek adjective ἀποτρόπαιον "averting evil" but also ἀπο τρόπαιον "from a defeat" or "from a tropaeum (trophy of an enemy's defeat)."

As an side, this is why ancient armies used to bring tropaeums into battle and why Romulus is sometimes depicted carrying a tropaeum as in this fresco from Pompeii ca. 79 CE. Not that tropaeums had phalluses!

Now this relates to the crux in that over the course of the centuries, the Romans developed T-type and mast-type crucifixion gallows, similar to a frame of tropaeum. Combined with the cornu that the crucified criminal was subjected to, it would not be long before sailors would consider a crux as apotropaic, for with a criminal fastened to and impaled on it, it was an actual victory over an enemy of the state, the pax Romana and the people. Especially so since pirates supplied a considerable portion of the criminals sentenced to crucifixion, [9] and because phalli could very well have been affixed to the masts of ships. [9a]

Indeed, Artemidorus (138-160 CE) notes this in the Second Century CE:
Σταυρόυσθαι πασι μέν τοϊς ναυτιλλομένοις άγατόν καί γάρ έκ ξύλον καί ήλων γέγονεν ό σταυρός ως καί τό πλοιον, καί ή κατάπτιος αυτού όμοια έστι σταυρω.

To be crucified, indeed, is admirable for those who go down to the sea in ships. For the σταυρός (crux), like a ship, is made out of timber and nails and a ship's mast resembles a σταυρός.
Artemidorus, Oneirocriticon 2.53

No doubt they were regarding a crux with a criminal impaled upon it as apotropaic ever since Caesar Augustus (or even Pompey before him) had cleaned the Mediterranean region free from pirates. Suetonius (69/75 to >130 CE) quoted a well-known homage paid to Augustus by the sailors of Alexandria:
per illum se vivere, per illum navigare, libertate atque fortunis per illum frui

By him they lived, by him they sailed and by him they enjoyed liberty and good fortune.
Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Divine Augustus 98.2 [10]

Priapus was not just the guardian and thieves' menace of gardens and fields and the protector merchant sailing, either. His statues' positions along the waterways and in harbors indicate that he protected all sailing. [11] His other roles included guarantor of fertility of natural vegetation and of increase in material wealth [12] and the sentry of property boundaries. [13] And, it turns out, he is invoked in inscriptions and in illustrations in tombs (and even the statue on the Esquiline!) [14] as a guardian of cemeteries and an apotropaic guarantor of safe passage of souls in the next life. [15]

And there is indication that Priapus, like Hermes / Mercury, also protected or at least guided travellers on the highways.

D. Priapus, A God of the Roads.

And, as it turns out, he was also in some places a god of the roads, the same as the role Hermes [18] fulfilled! As it is written in Epigram 29 of the Priapea:

'Falce minax et parte tui maiore, Priape,
ad fontem, quaeso, dic mihi qua sit iter.'

Dreadful wi' sickle and dire with thy greater part, O Priapus!
Prithee to me point out which be the way to the fount?


Priapus, terrific with thy sickle and thy greater part, tell me, prithee, which is the way to the fountain? [19]

Here Priapus appears as the friendly god of the roads, much like Hermes/Mercury, showing the way to a water source. Now, if he was the defender of gardens, fields, houses, merchant wealth, and sea-sailing, would he not also be the defender of the roads? Particularly since phalli were used apotropaically, there is a very good reason to believe that he did. And since Rome crucified pirates, would they not also crucify highwaymen? Indeed they did! [20] And usually they crucified criminals on the most heavilly travelled roads. [21]
quotiens noxios crucifigimus celeberrimae eliguntur viae, ubi plurimi intueri, plurimi commoveri hoc metu possint. omnis enim poena non tam ad (vin)dictam pertinet, quam ad exemplum.

Whenever we crucify / impale the noxious criminals, the most crowded roads are chosen, where the most people can see and be moved by this fear. For penalties relate not so much to retribution as to their exemplary effect.
Pseudo-Quintilian, Declamationes 274 [23]

The conclusion is obvious. The Roman crux, in the form of a cruciform gallows, was really an unrecognized stick-figure form of Priapus and other protector dieties. And if common thieves were "crucified" on Priapus' massive phallus, what does the reader think the Romans would have done when they crucified criminals? Just nail them to a flat-plane cross or tropaeum? Especially when we now know they deified deceased emperors by affixing their wax mannekins on crosses, such an execution would treat and exalt a criminal as a god. No, they would have subjected the criminal to an acuta crux, whether it was a simple impaling stake or (most frequently) the cornu of a male cross.

E. Other Protector Gods.

Here is a second-century mosaic of a good spirit by the name of Tykhon, depicted warding off the kakodaimon (wicked spirit) and his evil eye. The good spirit holds a pair of spits in the form of a "T" as a talisman for good luck, and is depicted with an engorged penis. [26] Well there was something else that was in the form of a "T" and according to Lucian (125-180 CE), it was the gallows upon which tyrants crucified (ἀνασκολοπίζειν = impaled) men. [27]


And here is shown a statue of a polyphallic Mercury (a.k.a. Hermes) from Pompeii endowed with many enormous phalli with the largest one projecting from his groin. Notice he is not holding his caduceus like he normally would, but is holding a bag of coins indicating his role as the god of merchants.


And an ancient coin (Nummus of Odessos in Thrace under the reign of Gordianus III, 238-244 CE) showing Hermes with a normal flaccid penis as it would be depicted in that time, and holding a purse and a caduceus. Notice it is different from the one depicted in modern times.

Mr. Thomas continues:
Further Evidence:

The graffiti you referred to in another place in which the victim impaled on the crux stake had a donkey's head is explained on the same wikipedia page: (Quoting wikipedia)--

"Priapus joined Pan and the satyrs as a spirit of fertility and growth, though he was perennially frustrated by his impotence. In a ribald anecdote told by Ovid,[5] he attempted to rape the nymph Lotis but was thwarted by an ass, whose braying caused him to lose his erection at the critical moment and woke Lotis. He pursued the nymph until the gods took pity on her and turned her into a lotus plant. The episode gave him a lasting hatred of asses and a willingness to see them destroyed in his honour.[6] The emblem of his lustful nature was his permanent erection and his giant penis."[7]
Well that's an interesting association, Priapus as the crux getting his revenge upon donkeys! It's certainly true that Priapus is associated with donkeys and that donkeys were sacrificed in his honor, the ostensible reason being either because of the spoiled ravishing noted by Mr. Didymus or to appease Priapus because he had an "endowment" measuring contest with Silenus' donkey and the donkey ended up being killed, either because the donkey won -- or lost! [28] Of course, Zechariah and the gospel writers had no idea what abuse they were inviting when they had the Messiah come in sitting on a donkey, or as gMatthew says so well, "on a donkey, and on a colt the foal of a donkey." Around the time the Alexamenos was scratched in, Tertullian noted that another pictorial epigraph was circulated in Rome: "Not so long ago, a most abandoned wretch in that city of yours, ... a Jew, in fact,... carried about in public a caricature of us with this label: Onocoetes." [29] And it wasn't just Christians. Jews and the followers of the Gnostic sect of Typhon-Seth also suffered derision (or seemed to) from Romans for worshiping in their opinion such a low and mean animal as a donkey. [30]

Mr. Thomas continues:
The conflation by the Athenians of Priapus with Hermes makes sense: Hermes also was shamanic god of boundaries who punished thieves. [31] He was also depicted ithyphallic--with an enormously erect impaling penis.


The depiction of Priapus-Hermes-Mercury on this Wikipedia page ( holding a caduceus brings me to a question you raised somewhere else on the origin of the word "crux" I was fortunate, several years ago, to run into the book "Migration of Symbols" by Professor Donald McKenzie ( which supplied me with information on the relationship of the indo-european c/k-r- root of "crux" with the spiral symbol. Take a look at the image of ithyphallic priapus-hermes-mercury on the same wikipedia page holding a double-spiral wand--the Caduceus. The Caduceus is an old shamanic phallic symbol depicting two serpents wound in a spiral around an "impaling pole." The derivation of "crux" from a root meaning "turn," "wind," "twist," "spiral" arises from the association of the phallic symbol of fertility deities with the shamanic spiral symbol. LaBarre provides evidence in his Ghost Dance that the spiral caduceus and the related double-axe symbols are old Indo-European phallic symbols of the fertility shamanic deities and D.McKenzie traces the evolution of the paleolithic spiral symbol in the four-armed swastika, fylfot, gammadion cross symbols of Indo-Europan cultures and other cross-cultural four-spoked cross-wheel symbols such as that on which Zeus (another phallic male deity) impaled Tartarus.

The same association of the magical phallus of "GOD" with spiral symbols is found the Indo-European root v-n-t/W-n-d. Thus any dictionary of root origins will tell you that sorcerer's magic "WAND" is from a w-n-d root meaning supple, wavy, spiral, twist, turn, etc. Thus in English we have the words wind (i.e., turn), wander (twist and meander), wend, wind (air) etc and scholars all recognize that the magic WAND that sorcerers hold in fairy tales is a phallic rod of divine magical power... (Primitive people associate divine spirits with wind or air and the spiral is a symbol of "circulating" air or wind. The devotee is filled with the Holy Wind or Spirit of the deity in a manner figuratively represented as sexual penetrative)
In Lucian's Prometheus on Caucasus, it is Hermes who is one of the two who nails Prometheus, stretched out on a cliff, for stealing fire and giving it to humans, and for stealing meat and swapping a bone with fat and gristle on it in its place. [32] So yes, Hermes did punish thieves.

In alchemical symbolism the caduceus is associated with primal matter, i.e., two serpents copulating around an erected penis (!) [33]. And indeed the Caduceus was even used as a phallus! Eva C. Keuls, in The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens, notes that rape was very much a preoccupation of the minds of the people of ancient Greece. To them, to the Romans, heck, basically to everybody, rape was and is the ultimate translation of phallicism into action. It does, in fact, figure very much into Attic mythology, starting around 500 BCE. [34] A male deity would rape a female deity but male-on-male rape is also frequent and even female-on-male sexual assault is not unknown. [35] Of course, their gods were never shown with erections and so the heroes of their myths would use other items such as a scepter, lightning bolts or the form of an eagle (Zeus), a trident (Poseidon), and a caduceus (Hermes) and aim them for the genital zones of their victims. [36]

And there's a certain God-man who said he was going to be the figurative serpent on the pole -- not once, but three times according to John's gospel.
"And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up."

John 3:14 NIV

So Jesus said, "When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me."

John 8:28 NIV

"But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

John 12:32 NIV
Of course, these refer to Moses and his bronze serpent-on-a-pole referred to in Numbers 21:8-9. Yahweh orders Moses to make a snake from bronze and affix it to some kind of standard and set the assembly upright where everyone can see it. Those who were bit by snakes would be cured if they only look at it. But Hezekiah, King of Judah, according to 2nd Kings 18:4, later destroyed it because he deemed it an idol like the Asherah phalli (poles). Maybe because it was so obviously Aesculapian! So in Jesus' day the only snake-on-a-standard people knew about were those of Hermes, of Mercury, and of Aesculapius. And here all along I thought it meant Jesus predicting he was going to be crucified by being simply *nailed* on a tropaeum! Little did I know he he was saying that had to get himself "outside" the pole.

And somewhere along the line by the 2nd or 3rd Century CE, people equated the Rape (or at least the taking-up) of Ganymede by Zeus in the form of an eagle as equivalent to some kind of a "crucifixion:"
[Γανυμεδε] και εοικεν εσταυρωμένων,... α θέαμα αισχιστών, μειρακίων εξ ονύχων κρεμαμένων

[Ganymede] even resembled one crucified*,... a spectacle** most shameful, a young adult hanging from an eagle's talons.

* alt.: impaled
** LSJ: frequently of a sight which gives pleasure, i.e., delightful show.

Achilles Tatius, The Adventures of Leucippe and Clitophon 2.37.3 [37]

But Tartarus impaled by Zeus on a wheel??? I had to do a little research on that. It turns out, Zeus had bound Ixion on a wheel and made it spin for all eternity. The first iteration of the myth-fable has the wheel cartwheeling across the sky like the sun; it later transmogrified into a wheel spinning without end in Hades. But I know where you're coming from, for wheels have axles! And the last iteration of that tale was written by Lucian in the 2nd Century CE where he uses a verb that was ambiguous: it could mean either spun 'round and round on it, or penetrated by it. I guess Lucian figured out where the axle would go. I guess his Prometheus on Caucasus will forever be colored in my mind by what he wrote about how Zeus planned to punish Ixion:
ες τον εδην εμπεσών τροχώ αθλοις προσδεθείς συμπεριενεχτησεται μετ' αυτού αει.

The prizewinning wretch (lit.: winning athlete), will be cast into Hades, bound to a wheel and spun 'round and 'round (alt.: sodomized) in the midst of it for all eternity.

Lucian, Dialogue of the Gods 6.5 [38] [39]
The epigraphy shows that Ixion was not just put on any wheel, but a four-spoke one that formed a cross, representing the Rays of the Sun.

Here is an ancient epigraph showing Ixion bound to a wheel with the spokes forming the sign of a cross.


And here is a neolithic representation of the Sun. Note the cross within.

And for the magic wand? I found the Proto-Indo-European root word for it was *wendh-, "to turn, wind, weave," from where we get the English words wind, "to move by turning and twisting," wend, "to proceed on, turn, go," wander, "to move about aimlessly," and wand, "a bending, flexible stick" but by 1400 the sense of "suppleness" had been lost. [40]

And guess who else used a magic wand?


F. Conclusion.

Mr. Didymus concludes:
All these evidence gives me a newly expanded perspective on the articles series on Jesus as suffering servant I wrote on God discussion. I knew quite well that the cross on which Jesus died had old religious-mystical phallic symbolic associations and i suspected but had no hard evidence before i read your comments and now your blog that the ancient Romans actually crucified criminals in the same way that many traditional cultures worldwide sacrifice victims to fertility deities--by pushing a "sodomizing" pole symbolic of the phallus of the deity right through the victim.

Thanks for the clinching evidence you have provided.
And thank you, John Thomas, for providing more evidence that the Bible does not say what people usually think it does.

Mr. Didymus finishes up:
More on Priapus and the Donkey Graffito:

The figure of Priapus as the god who "fucked his victim to death provided the ancient Romans opportunities for entertainment with ribald jokes, flippant and obscene sex stories. Wikipedia says:

"Priapus gave rise to a genre of poetry collectively termed Priapeia. The genre shows how Roman poets in particular invented comic and obscene situations for the deity, giving him more literary prominence than he enjoyed in rites or cult, though masked phallic figures were prominent on many festive occasions, both in Greece and in the wider Roman world. In Ovid's Fasti,[5] the nymph Lotis fell into a drunken slumber at a feast, and Priapus seized this opportunity to advance upon her. With stealth he approached, and just before he could embrace her, Silenus's donkey alerted the party with "raucous braying". Lotis awoke and pushed Priapus away.. To punish the donkey for spoiling his opportunity, Priapus bludgeoned it to death with his gargantuan phallus"

The element of sadistic jocularity and entertainment evident in crucifixion shows arises from its association with the X-rated "Priapeia." In this light we come to understand why crucifixion was exceptionally disgraceful way for a man to die -- he was held up in public as a man "fucked to death by Priapus. The splayed feet exposing the genitals and the agonized struggle of the victim seated on the god's pointed phallus was crudely and obscenely suggestive of sexual violence and thus for prudish people like the Jews it was an exceptionally odious manner for a relative or friend to die...No wonder the disciples of Jesus could only overcome the psychological trauma of Jesus' death in delusional beliefs that he had resurrected and transformed the disgrace of the crux into the victory of the tropaeum!!
And it's no wonder the Jews in Judea and Galilee were always in turmoil and periodically rebelling. They absolutely wanted nothing to do with it. It was not just a man depicted being penetrated to death by Priapus, it was also a form of parodic exaltation, mocking the criminal's attempt to rise above his station and dominate his betters. [41] which means not only were the crucified penetrated and forced by the way they were nailed or tied up to ride the penetrating cornu, they were also raised on high for maximum visibility. Whereas with a tropaeum, crucifixion on high would be an especial honour, treating a criminal as a god--; on the other hand, with a crux it was an especial dishonour, for more people could see the convict's ultimate shame: he will die penetrated by a god... not just a punitive rapist "sex" god but also a death god!

G. Footnotes.

[1] 'Patrician' and 'notorious' are alternative renderings of 'the Latin word oscula.
[2] 'Paederasts' is a poor translation. The Latin word is cinaedi, which in this context would be better translated as 'bottoms', i.e., 'passive' homosexual males.
[3] The whole of Priapus's member to the very hair of the pudendum and the scrotum would be thrust into the thief.
[4] The traveller mocks at Priapus's threat of sodomy ["crucifixion"] as a punishment. The god, in anger, retorts that if that punishment has no fears for him, a fustigation by the Farmer with the self-same mentule used as a cudgel may have a more deterrent effect.
[5] Ovid, Fasti, vi.319ff
[6] "Priapus." Who's Who in Classical Mythology, Routledge. 2002
[7] "Priapus." Bloomsbury Dictionary of Myth. 1996.
[8] Claudia Moser, Naked Power: The Phallus as an Apotropaic Symbol in the Images and Texts of Roman Italy. University of Pennsylvania, 2005-2006 Penn Humanities forum on Word & Image. Abstract.
[9] Martin Hengel, Crucifixion, tr. John Bowden, Philadelphia, 1977, Fortress Press, p. 49, n. 13
[9a] Moser, PDF, p. 38
[10] Hengel, p. 49, n. 13.
[11] Moser, PDF, p. 37
[12] Ibid, p. 36.
[13] Ibid, p. 37
[14] Q Horatius Flaccus (Horace), Satyrarum libri 1.8
[15] Moser, PDF, pp. 38, 39
[16] Craig A. Williams, Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity, p. 21. Oxford University Press US, 1999. ISBN 0195125053
[17] Quoted in Eric Csapo, Theories of Mythology, p. 168. Blackwell Publishing, 2005. ISBN 0631232486
[18] Wikipedia, Hermes, Cult and Mythology.
[19] Scaliger says that figures of Priapus and of Mercury were placed at crossroads, with rods in their hands, pointing out the way to fountains. 'The figure of Hermes had, like that of Priapus, a long and massive phallus; I have seen them in a cardinal's palace at Rome; and another proof is the saying of the philosophers, who, deriding the gluttony and lust of the youths, compared them to tois ermais [statues of Mercury], which had nothing but the head and the penis.' Therefore, Priapus is here referred to as a god of the road.
[20] Hengel, p. 49, n. 11, 13
[21] Ibid, p. 50, n. 14
[22] Neilson III, Harry R. 2002. “A terracotta phallus from Pisa Ship E: more evidence for the Priapus deity as protector of Greek and Roman navigators.” The International Journal of Nautical Archaeology 31.2: 248-253.
[23] Ibid
[24] Csapo, Eric. 1997. "Riding the Phallus for Dionysus: Iconology, Ritual, and Gender-Role De/Construction." Phoenix 51.3/4: 260.
[25] Keuls, Eva C. 1985. The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Athens.University of California Press: (1993) Berkeley and Los Angeles: 4-5. California Digital Library
[26] Theoi "Tykhos" webpage,
[27] Lucian, Judicium vocalium (In the Court of the Vowels) 12.
[28] Frédéric Delord. "Priapus." 2009. In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology(2009-), ed. Yves Peyré.
[30] Jewish Encyclopedia, 1906 Ed., "Ass Worship."
[31], Hermes, "General Info"
[32] Lucian, Prometheus on Caucasus Sacred Text Internet Archive.
[34] Keuls, pp. 47, 49
[35] Ibid, p. 49
[36] Ibid, p. 50
[37] Hengel, p.p. 7-8, n. 14.
[38] Lucian, Dialogi deorum 6.5 Greek text - Perseus Digital Library
[39] Lucian, Dialogue of the Gods 6 (fin) English text - Sacred Text Internet Archive
[40] Online Etymology Dictionary,
[41] Joel Marcus, "Crucifixion as Parodic Exaltation," JBL 125 (2006), pp. 73-87 (ap. Shelly Matthews, "Clemency as Cruelty," Violence, Scripture, and Textual Practice in early Judaism and Christianity, Ra'anan S. Boustan, Alex P. Jassen & Calvin J. Roetzel, eds., (2010) Leiden, Netherlands, Brill NV, pp. 117-144, p. 142). Mr. Marcus writes on p. 78, "Crucifixion was intended to unmask, in a deliberately grotesque manner, the pretension and arrogance of those who had exalted themselves beyond their station...." Marcus concludes that crosses sometimes might have been too high, so that there would be a confusion of who was mocking whom, since "the height of the cross might undergo a transvaluation and be seen to point toward the spiritual eminence rather than the arrogance of the victim." My note: add the cornu, and the prospect of transvaluation is, I assume, hereby averted (Suetonius Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Galba 9).

H. Previous Series.

Crucifixion – The Bodily Support - Part 1.
Crucifixion – The Bodily Support - Part 2 - Archaeological Evidence.
Crucifixion – The Bodily Support - Part 4 - Physics of Crucifixion.


johnthomas didymus said...

As usual, you deal with the topic so exhaustively. it has been great rubbing minds with you ED!!!

Ed-M said...

Thank you! I have more articles up. Right now I'm slogging through the history.