Punishment for Adultery in Ancient Athens

In ancient Athens, if a jury found you guilty of sleeping with another man’s wife, the man whose wife you slept with had the right to sodomize you with a Daikon radish.

Punishment for Adultery in Ancient Athens

Even if you were used to being sodomized, the radish would still sting pretty badly. The Lakiad district (one of about 140 districts in the city-state) was known as the adultery district because it produced so many radishes.

Being known to be sodomized was a terrible humiliation for a man in ancient Greek culture, and this would basically ruin your life; no one would ever think of you as a man again, and you’d be laughed out of politics, the only career people were actually interested in pursuing.

According to some sources, a mullet could be used in place of a radish. Apparently the cuckold could also just sodomize you himself, using a regular old penis; to be honest, I’m not sure why this wasn’t the standard instead of the radish thing, as it seems much more humiliating, but then again a mindset that came up with this use for a radish is obviously working under some assumptions different from mine.

The Romans had a similar punishment, though they seem to have used a fish with spines on it, so as to do actual damage.

It’s also unclear to me whether the sodomy was public or private, though I assume the former, and whether it happened right there in the court or at some later time. I like the idea of cuckolds bringing radishes with them to court in case they win.

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