Gluteus maximus

Photography by
Danny Calvi

Oh Apollo! Oh Asklepius, god of healing! This statuette, an anatomical effigy of an afflicted ass, sits safely behind glass at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens, just a few blocks from the turmoil of demonstrations near the Greek Parliment.

Ancient Greeks would leave such a sculpture or painting (lazy eye, sprained ankle, milkless breast, etc.) in the temple hospital as a gesture of appreciation before or after the healing visit. One can only speculate on the actual circumstances behind this particular offering. Perhaps it was modeled after some Athenian eromenos, one who persuaded the gods to cure a bad case of the runs, or an untimely hemorrhoidal flare up.

Published on 15 February 2012