Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Olympics: The Kynodesme

In Ancient Greece athletes competed naked both as a mark of honor and general appreciation of the body beautiful. Modern athletes are no different albeit today’s’ decency codes determine more clothing is worn but no less revealing.

In antiquity the Greek code of genital etiquette determined a visible glans penis in an uncircumcised man was considered indecent within the arena. The sight of which was taken as evidence of sexual arousal. To prevent a penis from detracting from performance the naked athletes wore a kynodesme (or dog tie) from circa 5th century BCE. The kynodesme was a thin leather strip tied tightly round the prepuce (i.e. the foreskin that protrudes beyond the glans) then attached to a waist band. The raised member exposed the scrotum which to the Ancient Greeks was considered pleasing to the eye. The thong also restrained the penis during running and was often tied in bow.

The restraint stretched the foreskin causing it to elongate and tapered the prepuce which became a fashionable look for young athletes. Depictions of attractive, virtuous, heroic, or divine subjects frequently featured a prepuce up to three-quarters the entire length of the penis. The longer prepuce served as an object of erotic interest and as a signifier of the sexually attractive male. Vase paintings and statues frequently portray nude athletes wearing the kynodesme.

The penis restraint became a general convention used by men to preserve their dignity when nude in public. The Greek code of genital etiquette placed circumcised Jews at an embarrassing disadvantage in the public baths, wrestling matches, and competitive games.

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