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Rhaphanidosis is the act of inserting the root of a plant of the raphanus genus (commonly known as a radish) into the anus. It is mentioned by Aristophanes as a punishment for adultery in Classical Athens in the fifth and fourth century BC.
The classification of the raphanus genus is currently not well agreed upon,[dubious ] but during the antique and medieval times, all kinds of horseradishes and similar plants were commonly included in this genus.
In order to be allowed to apply rhaphanidosis to an adulterer, one must catch the man in the act of adultery with one's own wife, in one's own house. Rhaphanidosis was not the only penalty available, and the man could even be killed on the spot. Following this, the adulterous wife would have to be divorced.
Later classical references to the punishment include Catullus 15 where percurrent raphanique mugilesque (both radishes and mullets will run you through) is threatened against those who cast lascivious eyes on the poet's boyfriend.
There is some doubt as to whether the punishment was ever enforced or whether the reference to it in the debate between Right and Wrong in The Clouds of Aristophanes should be understood as signifying public humiliation in general.
- Aristophanes, The Clouds, line 1083: Τί δ᾿ ἢν ῥαφανιδωθῇ πιθόμενός σοι τέφρᾳ τε τιλθῇ.
- Danielle S. Allen, The world of Prometheus: the politics of punishing in democratic Athens, Princeton University Press, 2002, ISBN 0-691-09489-6, p. 214.
- C. Carey, "Return of the radish or just when you thought it safe to go back into the kitchen," Liverpool Classical Monthly, vol.18 no.4 (1993) pp. 53–5.
- Charles Platter, "Aristophanes and the carnival of genres", JHU Press, 2007, ISBN 0-8018-8527-2, p. 79.
- James Davidson, "Clinging to the Sides of a Black, Precipitous Hole", London Review of Books, vol.22 no.16 (24 August 2000)
- Vincent J. Rosivach, "Sources of Some Errors in Catullan Commentaries", Transactions of the American Philological Association, Vol.108 (1978) pp. 203–216
- Eva Cantarella, Pandora's daughters: the role and status of women in Greek and Roman antiquity, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987, ISBN 0-8018-3385-X, p. 123