epispasm
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A surgical procedure designed to reverse the effects of male circumcision. In Hellenistic culture the exposing of the glans penis was seen as obscene. When a circumcised male exposed himself by bearing the sign of the covenant in the public baths or in the gymnasiums, from gymnos meaning "naked," the Greeks saw it as lewd and indecent behavior. To the Greek mind such behavior was disgusting. Greek males with inadequate foreskins often went to elaborate means to conceal the glans penis, including the pinning of their foreskins, the practice of infibulation, to cover the glans penis and thereby avoid indecent exposure. A Jew who choose to use the public baths or to participate in the Pan-Hellenic games involved the unavoidable display of his circumcised penis.

In this culture the exposing of the glans penis was not only offensive but an open invitation for ostracism. Societal stress was so great that young Hellenistic Jews occasionally undertook to reverse the fact of circumcision by undergoing the painful and traumatic operation known as epispasm to "uncircumcised" themselves in order to be accepted. Competition in the  games, which consisted of a circuit of games held at Delphi, Isthmia, and Nemea culminating in the games proclaimed every four years at Olympia, was always in the nude. Being a culture engrossed in homosexuality the ancient Greeks provided the games "as an opportunity for men to meet boys" (Deford 1996:47). See Hall 1992.


Page last edited: 02/02/06 08:17 PM


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