Reader warning: Sexually explicit material


Did you know that masturbation was the gift of a god?

Well, you'd probably already figured that out for yourself. But the Greeks, of course, had a story.

Yes, it was Pan that invented it, along with music. He gave them both as gifts to his votaries the shepherds, to help pass the time up in the pastures.

Music and masturbation, both. Praise be to Pan!

Then there's the dildo; that's also the gift of a god. (The word itself comes from Italian diletto, “delight”; did you know that?) Which god? Well, Dionysos, of course.

Here's the story.

Dionysos needed to descend into the Underworld, but he didn't know how to get there. (I think it was to consult with his dead mother, but that's by the by.) When he asks around, they tell him that the only one who knows where to find the entrance to the Underworld is a certain grizzled old shepherd. (If I were a master-poet, now, I'd know the guy's name, but me, I'm just a two-bit storyteller.) So pretty young Dionysos goes to the old shepherd's bothy.

Sure, I'll tell you how to get there, says the shepherd. But first I want that sweet, dimpled little butt of yours.

You can have it, says the joy-god, but only when I come back.

Fair enough, says the old man. Do I have your word on that?

The word of a god, says Dionysos.

So, the Ambrosial-Locked God descends into the Land of the Dead and consults with his mother, or whoever it was that he was looking for. Then, true to his word, when he gets back to the Land of the Living, he goes looking for the old shepherd.

Alas, they tell him, Old Such-and-so died yesterday.

Well, a god keeps his word. Fresh-faced Dionysos raises a nice, phallic standing stone (some say it was a phallus carved from fig-wood instead) on the old man's grave and impales himself on it.

That's why we raise standing stones on graves to this very day.

Now, you might think that your average grave-stone might be a bit, ah...capacious for the purpose, shall we say?

But remember: this is, after all, a god that we're talking about.