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"With the Bacchic comus, which turned a noisy festal banquet into a boisterous procession of revellers, a custom was from the earliest times connected, which was the first cause of the origin of comedy. The symbol of the productive power of nature was carried about by this band of revellers, and a wild, jovial song was recited in honour of the god in whom dwells this power of nature, namely, Bacchus himself, or one of his companions. Such phallophoric or ithyphallic songs were customary in various regions of Greece. The ancients give us many hints about the variegated garments, the coverings for the face, such as masks or thick chaplets of flowers, and the processions and songs of these comus singers. Aristophanes, in his Acharnians, gives a most vivid picture of the Attic usages in this respect : in that play, the worthy Dicaeopolis, while war is raging around, alone peacefully celebrates the country Dionysia on his own farm ; he has sacrificed with his slaves, and now prepares for the sacred procession; his daughter carries the basket as Canephorus; behind her the slave holds the phallus aloft; and, while his wife regards the procession from the roof of the house, he himself begins the phallus song, "O Phales, boon companion of Bacchus, thou nightly reveller!" with that strange mixture of wantonness and serious piety which was possible only in the elementary religions of the ancient world."--History of the Literature of Ancient Greece (1841) by Karl Otfried Müller

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Phallophoria (from Ancient Greek phallos, "phallus", and φέρειν "to bear") is the name given to Ancient Greek phallic processions. Heraclitus, encountering the festival of the Phallophoria, in which phalli were paraded about, remarked in a surviving fragment: "If they did not order the procession in honor of the god and address the phallus song to him, this would be the most shameless behavior. But Hades is the same as Dionysos, for whom they rave and act like bacchantes" (quoted in Karl Kerenyi, Dionysos: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life [Princeton University Press, 1976] pp239f.).


  • P. Krentz: Athens' Allies and the Phallophoria. The Ancient History Bulletin 7.1 (1993). S. 12-16
  • Eric Csapo: Riding the Phallus for Dionysus: Iconology, Ritual, and Gender-Role De/Construction. Phoenix, Bd. 51, Nr. 3/4 (1997). S. 253-295.
  • Alain Danielou: Le phallus. Engl. Übersetzung von Jon Graham:The Phallus: Sacred Symbol of Male Creative Power. Inner Traditions International, Rochester, Vermont, 1995.
  • Károly Kerényi, Dionysus: Archetypal Image of Indestructible Life, Adelphi, Milan, 1992

See also

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