These days I am reading for my comprehensive examinations and almost daily I come across something that makes me silently chant the refrain: There is nothing new under the sun. Well yesterday’s discovery was a real head scratcher and one that might cause some blushing for those with tender ears and modest tongues. So for those whose eyes cannot bear the sight of things unsightly I forewarn you: stop reading.
For the titillated: read on.
Sometimes you hear slang and you can sense that it is neological or you have a vague memory of a time when you are pretty sure that you did not hear it. Like, da bomb, boo-yeah, or fo’ shizzle. Well there is a certain slang phrase that has sounded new to me the few (rather unpleasant) times that I have heard it said and a quick check of the OED and Urban Dictionary confirmed its recent coinage and heyday (20th century, especially the last few decades). Well you can imagine my surprise when I read this very slang in a text composed sometime in the late 1st or very early 2nd century CE. IN GREEK! Yeah, that’s right, the exact slang in highfalutin Attic Greek (Plutarch, Stoic Self-Contradictions). For you Greek nerds, the uppity LSJ doesn’t even deign to offer a definition for the phrase although one hardly needs to be given. I read the sentence and then I read it again to make sure I wasn’t Freuding the thing up and it was right there to behold.
Διογένη=Diogenes (the famous Cynic philosopher)
τὸ αἰδοῖον=his package
ἐν φανερῷ=in the open
Diogenes was rubbing [one] off. Publicly.
You can’t make this stuff up.