Raphanidosis: the birth of the vegetable tortures.

Rhaphanidosis is the act of inserting the root of a plant of the raphanogenus (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.

I wonder if they used ‘desirable radishes’.


Curiously, I came upon the expression on Mustardland, the Archers message board where I spend far too much of my time and it’s not the first time my interest has been piqued by this rather contentious forum. That’s where I learnt the phrase  ‘Crambe Repetita’ which was the starting point for this piece a few years ago.


I was not unnaturally intrigued by this repellent nugget of ancient history and Googled it immediately. Among other things I learnt that there is  a Norwegian heavy metal band that have appropriated the name. Nice choice guys!

But what really interested me was the additional fact that the cuckolded husband had the additional right to ram a spiny fish such as a mackerel up the anus of the offender. This got me thinking about torture. Vegetable torture.



But I’m more interested in the idea that we may be  inflicting untold damage on ourselves by genetically modifying our food. And I remembered a horror story that was doing the rounds some years ago about a salmon gene that had been inserted into a tomato. Now that may just be one of those urban myths but it’s certainly a rather disgusting idea. A sort of scientific raphanidosis.

And it’s got me going. Oh yes.


I mean, there’s something just so wrong and yet so right about a mackerel up a sphincter. I had to make a sculpture about it. See work in progress below (with added Docs).


But oh how I’ve struggled with this piece. I wanted the radish to be spherical and it took me about three attempts to make the shape, which kept collapsing and cracking. I had to give up on the leaves and roots (for now) and just concentrated on the fish.

And then I would lose track of which fish went into which hole. As you do.


It was a relief when it finally went into the kiln. I had had to compromise so much with my initial idea.

And an even bigger relief to get to finally glazing the beastly thing.


I don’t know why these fish look so pleased with themselves – after all, they’re stuck in constricting anal sphincters.


I’m not at all satisfied with this piece but wanted to document its progress and the germination of an idea.

I will be returning to the theme of torture by and to vegetables. I think there should be an equal mix of pleasure and pain.





About pennimania

Artist, entomologist, grumbler.
This entry was posted in ceramics, Pleionexia, The Vegetable Tortures and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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