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The Ancient Emotion of Disgust$
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Donald Lateiner and Dimos Spatharas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190604110

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190604110.001.0001

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Obscena Galli Praesentia

Obscena Galli Praesentia

Dehumanizing Cybele’s Eunuch-Priests through Disgust

Chapter:
(p.235) 11 Obscena Galli Praesentia
Source:
The Ancient Emotion of Disgust
Author(s):

Marika Rauhala

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190604110.003.0012

The eunuchs serving the cult of the Great Mother appeared in Greek and Latin literature during the Hellenistic period, and they persisted as a popular motif up until late antiquity. From the very beginning, the figure of gallos or gallus evoked feelings of bewilderment, abhorrence, and disgust. The authors mocked their unmanly behavior and womanish appearance and denounced their alleged moral failings and indecency. Whereas the Greek references generally retained an amusing tone, the Roman portrayals of galli often oozed with contempt. Many features of the descriptions were designed to induce disgust responses and, thus, to marginalize the galli in order to counter the potential threat they posed to the existing social hierarchies. For, the self-castrated cultic officials defied several basic assumptions and categorizations upon which ancient societies rested. In particular, they seemed to challenge the fundamental gender division along with its inbuilt belief in male superiority. Chapter keywords

Keywords:   eunuch priest, cult of Cybele, disgust, dehumanization, gender ambiguity, Greco-Roman literature

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