Monday, December 31, 2012


Funerary relief of a priest of Magna Mater (gallus) from Lavinium.
Rome, Capitoline Museums (mid-second century AD).

On certain days a multitude flocks into the temple, and the Galli in great numbers, sacred as they are, perform the ceremonies of the men and gash their arms and turn their backs to be lashed. Many bystanders play on the pipes the while many beat drums; others sing divine and sacred songs. All this performance takes place outside the temple, and those engaged in the ceremony enter not into the temple.

During these days they are made Galli. As the Galli sing and celebrate their orgies, frenzy falls on many of them and many who had come as mere spectators afterwards are found to have committed the great act. I will narrate what they do. Any young man who has resolved on this action, strips off his clothes, and with a loud shout bursts into the midst of the crowd, and picks up a sword from a number of swords which I suppose have been kept ready for many years for this purpose. He takes it and castrates himself and then runs wild through the city, bearing in his hands what he has cut off. He casts it into any house at will, and from this house he receives women's raiment and ornaments. Thus they act during their ceremonies of castration.

- Lucian of Samosata (mid-second century AD).


The Syrian Goddess (De Dea Syria) by Lucian of Samosata, translated by Herbert A. Strong and John Garstang, Heinemann, 1913.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Field of the Slain

Field of the Slain by Evelyn Pickering de Morgan, 1916 

In 1916 Evelyn Pickering de Morgan painted this as a memorial to all the innocent children killed in the first world war. It seems all too apropos today.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Quote of the day

The Quack by Gerritt Dou, 1652

Heed rather to preserve than to cure your health; and beware of physicians. Every man scrapes up his money only to give it to them, the destroyers of lives.
- Leonardo da Vinci