It was a noticeable portrayal of a penis, big and arching upwards. It cannot have had any practical

Value, but was meant as a phallic exhibit, a demonstration of power, a danger signal of the same nature as
the helmets hammered into the shape of lion masks which appeared simultaneously. The guy in armour with his


Journal of Sport History, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Winter, 1985)

A Geometric bronze statue from Olympia. Nick Stournaras and Nick Corbetis, eds.,
Olympia 1971 amount 3. (Courtesy of Mike Roberts Colour Creation).

Codpiece and the baboon presenting his erect penis as an aggressive signal to other baboons to keep off aim at the
same effect” (p. 165). The author also notes that tendencies towards genital action of an aggressive nature are
repressed in our current civilization and that today’s guys are not aware of potentials like those openly
expressed in the Near East and–at least verbally–among the ancient Norsemen. implies, according to the
author, that logical comprehension of the aggressive aspects of phallic symbolism is lost also; and this in turn
indicates that understanding of the signal function of a phallic symbolism in dominance-submission routines has
vanished from the consciousness–however that these patterns still remain unchanged and attentive of activity
below the threshold (p. 191).


Origin of Nudity in Greek Athletics

A Proto-Attic Vase. Cecil Smith, “A Proto-Attic Vase,” JHS 22 (1902) PI.11 a. (Courtesy
of the Society for the Promotion of Helenic Studies).

surprised to find in the state of Maabar, India that men went to fight nude
with just a spear and a shield. In the Trichinopoly District of Bengal, when in
the rainy season tanks and rivers threaten to blow up their banks, guys stand
naked on the embankments; and if an excessive amount of rain falls, naked men point
firebrands at the heavens, as in the case of rain-magic. This nudity is presumed to
“shock” the forces that sent the rain and cause its cessation. To a primitive
warrior the phallus was an emblem of power having prophylactic merit against
the assaults of the enemy. Roman soldiers marching into battle taken phallic
symbols on their standards. The peculiar state of the sexual organ of a warrior
engaged in deadly combat is a matter well comprehended in the Polynesian
24. H. Yule, Marco Polo (London, 1929), 2: 274,275,278. I. Wise, Notes on the Races, Castes and Trades
of Eastern Bengal (London, 1883). p. 369; W. Crooke, “Nudity in India in Custom and Ritual,” Journal of the
Royal Anthropological Institute 49 (1919): 248; George Ryley Scott, Phallic Worship (New Delhi, 1975). p, 109,
Gza Rohelm, Animism, Magic and the Divine King (London. 1972). p. 21. Also see . G. Gudgeon, “Phallic
Emblem from Atiu Island,” Journal of the Polynesian Society 13 (1904-1905): 193. Among the Kiwi Papuans of
British New Guinea the dick of a slain foe is cut off and dried. Before a fight a small piece of it blended with banana
is given to the youthful warriors to make them more powerful. [See Gunnar Landman, The Kiwai Papuons of British New
Guinea (London, 1927), p. 1281. Also see Rohelm, Animism. Magic and the Divine Kiq. p. 20.


Journal of Sport History, Vol. 12, No. 3 (Winter, 1985)

The apotropaic use of the phallus is clearly exposed in the Greek herms which
consisted of a square stone column surmounted by a man’s bearded head and
bearing an erect phallus. They stood in front of houses as house-guards,25 in the
market places, at intersection26 and at the frontiers, consistently facing away from
the guarded premises. The same sort of sculpture is found in some present
cultures, like on Borneo and Nias, Bali and the Nikobar Islands as things of
superstition against the spirits of the Deceased.27
W. Burkert wrote on the meaning of the display of phallus:
I cannot find any real explanation before ethology noticed that there are species
of monkeys, living in groups, of whom the men act as guards: They sit up at the
outposts, confronting outside and presenting their erect genital organ. This is an
“Critter ritual” in the sense noted above: the fundamental function of sexual activity is

suspended for the benefit of communicating; every individual approaching from the
outside will find that this group does not consist of weak wives and children,
but enjoys the full protection of maleness.28

Scientists also observed that within a group of squirrel monkeys, one animal
25. The continued belief in the apotropaic power of phallus seems to account for its appearance on the
doorways of fresh buildings in major cities of India. The defender figures often protecting either side of the entry
to a Saivite temple in India, have noticeable erect sexual organs. [See Clarence Maloney, The Evil Eye (Fresh York,
1976). pp. 114, 1251. For precisely the same function portrayals of human phalli are curved upon the exterior timbers of
dwelling places in Central Borneo [See Frederic T. Elworthy, The Evil Eye (London, 1957), p. 1071. Legba or