Here an αἰδοῖον, there an αἰδοῖον

Since I discovered the most recent Sannion I’ve encountered the word αἰδοῖον somewhere between five and seven times. It literally means “the shameful part” but came to be the common term for genitalia, and the male member in particular — though interestingly it informed the development of Latin pudendum which today is mostly used for female genitalia. It also influenced Old English scamlim, which has to be one of my favorite names for the penis: “shame-limb.”

Now, in fairness two of those instances were the result of reading Marco Antonio Santamaría’s A Phallus Hard to Swallow (about dynastic succession in the Orphic Theogony discussed in the Derveni Papyrus) and The Power of the Phallus in Greek Divination by Salvatore Costanza (which definitely delivers on its evocative title) so it’s only to be expected – but that doesn’t really explain the other instances, especially a couple of them where I was researching subjects completely (or at least mostly) unrelated to the Dionysian and ithyphallicism. I can’t say it’s been an uninteresting intellectual detour, but I’m a μάντις so I tend to pay attention to patterns such as this. (I’d share links but I’m curious what comes up when y’all google “phallus,” “hard” and “swallow.” For science.)

Well, I now know a whole lot more about Greek and Italian penises (a subject I was already intimately familiar with) so that’s good, but I still haven’t found the appropriate term for a divination manual, which is what prompted this morning’s plunge into that particular rabbit’s hole. The closest I’ve come is βίβλους τὰς περὶ τῆς μαντικῆς from Isokrates’ Aiginetikos 5-6, which I can always shorten to περὶ τῆς μαντικῆς or περὶ μαντικόν, though I’m not sure this hits the right note for the project I’m working on. But have no fear, for I am on the hunt. In the meantime, here’s that passage:

Thrasyllos, the father of the testator, had inherited nothing from his parents; but having become the guest-friend of Polemaenetos, the soothsayer, he became so intimate with him that Polemaenetos at his death left to him his books on divination and gave him a portion of the property which is now in question. Thrasyllos, with these books as his capital, practiced the art of divination. He became an itinerant soothsayer, lived in many cities, and was intimate with several women.