"Die Beschneidung bei Mann und Weib"
Gustav Feller. New Brandenburg. (1931)
"Circumcision in Man and Woman"
translated: David Berger MA
American Ethnological Press New York (1934)
AMS Press (1974) extracts from p. 92 - 207
revised: R. Stuart
| Bryk`s explanation (duration of intercourse)
FUNCTION OF THE FORESKIN
Evolution... Denudation. modes of thinking
emphasis of glans
Bryk - Denudation customs
The Foreskin Complex
Function of the foreskin
Potency in old age
Chinese piercing blood treatment
CUSTOMS - DISTRIBUTION
Thus, now comes lastly, my explanation which will describe
motives of a psychological as well as imitative nature. It was implied
in Neger-Eros (1) however no proof was offered. This will now be corrected.
1) F. Bryk, Voodoo-Eros,
1928 (p. 122 (footnote) and pp. 55-57).
Regarding the statement that Africans being true natural
peoples and observing the genitals of animals in detail, I mentioned
in a footnote (I, p. 122) "Especially domestic animals. These observations
particularly concerning the erection of the stallion, bull etc.,would have given the impetus to cut back the prepuce.
On the reason for circumcision I said (Bryk, p. 55): "It seems to me,
rather, that the fundamental reason for circumcision can easily be inferred
from the nature of sexuality.
"Man strives to make the often troublesome act of intercourse as comfortable
as possible; and it cannot be denied that the foreskin is often a painful
hindrance, becoming strangulated after the entrance of the glans and
making the act difficult, or, in case the prepuce does not leave the
glans free, hastening the ejaculatio seminis. What could be simpler
than to do away with this hindrance, especially since an additional
mark of beauty was thus attained for maturity.
Of secondary importance were the several months of
prolongued convalescence following this, during which the youth, now
marked as a man, could find opportunity in the absence of schools, to
be initiated by his master into all the mysteries of life.
The question which was now facing Bryk (referring to himself)
was clearly formulated by Merker (1), concerning the function
of the foreskin during copulation, in other words, what effect circumcision
has on the retardation of ejaculation.
1) This explanation was overlooked by all authors probably
because the first edition of his work, which is the one always quoted,
does not contain it, the second not being examined for this purpose.
By chance I came across the second edition and was amazed at the congruence
of our ideas.
Merker writes (p. 331) "According to what we have seen, the circumcision
of boys seems to have its origin in the view that it increases the procreative
ability of the man. ... This view is based on the experience that a
man with his penis circumcised cohabits longer and excites the woman
more. A man with his penis uncircumcised ejaculates his semen sooner
during coitus, sometimes too soon, before the woman has reached the
climax of sexual pleasure. When the penis is circumcised, the seminal
ejaculation is retarded and coincides with the climax of sexual pleasure,
which is most favorable toward effecting conception.
"This leads us to the assumption that the law-giver who introduced
circumcision did it with the purpose of favoring conception and thus
increasing the number of births, i.e. the birth rate. Circumcision became
a preparation for marriage and accordingly is still performed among
the Massai-, as among other primitive peoples, not until the inception
of puberty. Later it became for both Israelites and Massai a tribal
sign and as such was shifted among the former to earliest youth".
Merker doubts the advantage of cleanliness (II, p. 332): "for among
the sparsely clad primitive peoples the part in question is much more
exposed to the effects of dust, etc., and to injury by thorns, prickly
leaves, flowers and grasses, than it would be otherwise".
Friederici and Fehlinger also support the same view, which is summed
up by van de Velde (p. 186): "The black youths who meet on the plantations
discuss these things among themselves and know that those among them
who are circumcised have a much less sensitive glans than those who
have not been so treated. The circumcised admit quite candidly that
it takes them longer to reach an ejaculation than it does the uncircumcised.
"The purpose of circumcision is probably that of lengthening the sexual
act, since the uncovered glans is less sensitive than the covered one.
"Thus it need not surprise us that we repeatedly find women in the
literature of late who endeavor to level out the difference between
'wish' and 'can' by turning to a man who is circumcised after unsatisfactory
relations with other men.
"It is difficult to determine whether a man with lessened sensitivity
of the glans loses some of the pleasure of the sexual act, or whether
the prolongation of the act thus caused actually gives him an advantage.
"It is certain that in general primitive peoples and especially the
Orientals consider the loss of the prepuce in this respect and for this
reason a decided advantage for they lay great stress upon the greatest
possible prolongation of coitus. Certainly one of the factors here may
be the universal human propensity for enjoying every pleasure to its
full extent, and especially may the desire have made itself manifest
to enlarge as much as possible a series of such intensely pleasurable
emotions (by experience seeming always too short). I consider this -
speaking sexual-psychologically - an absolutely normal desire consciously
or unconsciously manifested in a sexually healthy human being, at least
in men. A more significant factor, however, is the emotional status
of natural man who (though he may in other ways neglect women, treat-
ing them as an article of possession and beast of burden) lays much
more emphasis upon the sexual pleasure of the woman than the average
man. He - primitive man - is not satisfied with the course of coitus
or with himself, if he has not satisfied the woman.(1) He is pleased
- this Don Juan contemporain - not only with the gratification he has
experienced, but also with that he has imparted.
1) Unfortunately, illustrative evidence is not given.
"Thus the pride of being a desired partner in sexual intercourse has
not been the least important of the reasons inducing man to value the
removal of the prepuce". (Van de Velde)
Doiteau also recommends circumcision to individuals with "coita
bref". (Doiteau, p. 22.)
No investigations have as yet been made on the physiological effect
of circumcision on erection, the retardation of ejaculation and other
attendant phenomena during the sexual act, and this is also very difficult
and complicated for it could be done only by men who had already had
repeated sexual intercourse before having been circumcised .(2) It is
necessary for these men to have followed exactly the function of their
foreskins in order to be able to tell the difference afterward; but,
from my investigations, most men have not the slightest idea about it,
because all control of reason is lost in congressibus. Where
love begins, reason ends.
2) A well known Finnish physician, who had had himself
circumcised when already mature, told me that after circumcision the
ejaculatio seminis was at first hastened, because the sensitive, previously
hidden portions of the glans were now exposed. (B.)
* The circumcised man`s ability to make love longer
and please the woman more; must be judged irrelevant to the origins,
simply because such complicated observations and thoughts about cause
and effect, would have been by all accounts not feasable for Bryk`s
prelogical thinker. (RS.)
As a result of this our literature is almost devoid of references to
the role of the foreskin during the sexual act. I was able to find only
allusions in Adler which I shall bring forward when discussing the circumcision
of women and the role of the clitoris in connection with it.
I received some valuable information on this topic from Dr. Srecko
Milic, principal in Essegg: two elderly gentlemen had themselves circumcised
by him, not, for ex-
ample, to have a phimosis removed, but simply to attain a retardation
of the ejaculation during sexual intercourse. Neither had been influenced
by the other, each impelled by the same desire, had conceived the idea
of subjecting himself to this surgical treatment. 1 was assured by my
guarantor that the purpose of the operation had been attained.
Ethnography gives us a few hints on the duration of the sexual act
among primitives, in many cases in regard to circumcised subjects. Thus
Moszkowski, in a lecture held before the Medical Society for Sexology
and Constitutional Research (February, 1929) on "The Sexual Life in
Australia", mentions a case he has observed of an act of copulation
lasting half an hour. In answer to my question as to whether the man
was circumcised, Moszkowski answered in the affirmative.
Frobenius (I, p. 329) tells us that the Bessari hasten "to attain the
ejaculation as soon as possible"; the man squats, the woman is in a
supine position. This tribe ridicules people that are circumcised, both
men and women. Here then we have information to the effect
that an uncircurncised tribe of "primitives" ejaculates quickly, information
contrasting sharply with the cases given by Moszkowski and Eylmann,
which are based on circumcised subjects. Eylmann (p. 123) writes: "Moreover,
according to information furnished me by bush-people, the act of population
is said to last quite a long time. In order not to be misunderstood,
let me add that it is my conviction that among primitive peoples generally
both sexes are not so quickly aroused sensually as people who belong
to an advanced, rather weak-nerved culture, as for example, we Germans".
Information on the duration of sexual intercourse must naturally be
tested as to its validity. In this field especially the negro likes
to boast (Bryk, I, p. 223). In considering duration one must take into
account also the position of the cohabitants, since it is well known
that the acceleration or retardation of emission depends, in the case
of one and the same person, upon the various "positions" (Adler). Consequently
the question of positions,(1) so real and conspicuous in the modern
popular literature of erotic enlightenment, must be borne in mind in
all future research and considerations on the effect of circumcision.
Among the Ethiopian tribes, according to Frobenius (1, p. 276), the
squatting position is typical, it is the "only decent" one. The normal
"covering" position is considered obnoxious by the Chambo; it also offers
"but slight prospect for speedy offspring".
1) A classification of the material is to be found in
Meisenheimer, (pp. 206-263).
According to Riedel "fit coitus in silvis valde secreto modo,
among some tribes in a squatting position, as among the Marego or the
orang-utang and other apes. The masculine genitalia are small, likewise
the vagina of the women".
Even if it should actually turn out, which, to be sure, is still questionable,
that the effect of circumcision pre-
supposed by Merker and myself is absent, and only illusory, still that
explanation, expecting an effect that is not attained, need not necessarily
be rejected as inadequate, just as it is impossible to deny the psychic
phenomena preceding it.
For one must keep in mind the imagination of the prelogical thinker
whose wish and its fulfilment, in view of his almost infinite suggestibility,
always coincide. Indeed, all primitive systems of therapeutics are based,
in the last analysis, on this assumption.
FUNCTION OF THE PREPUCE IN COITUS
As a result of man's erect position, as also in the case of bats, the
non-erect penis, formerly hidden in the folded pocket of the foreskin,
became more prominent (Meisenheimer, p. 255). Consequently its normal
position is dependent, penis pendulus, except in the case of
the bushmen, among whom it is said to have retained its position as
penis rectus. (1) The foreskin pocket was gradually transformed
by being shifted forward but unfolded at the same time, so that now,
with its skin duplicity, it formed a homogeneous elongation of the skin
covering of the penis. It usually extends beyond the tip of the penis
in a probiscidiform continuation, but during erection is capable of
withdrawing more or less or is turned back by the protuberation of the
The prepuce is considered by many to be an organ of protection, having
the function of safeguarding "the tender skin of the glans from harmful
external effects" (Kutna, p. 100-102) and preserving the sensitiveness
of the sexual part (Doiteau, p. 20). It is also to "keep itself slippery
so long as the glans is not functioning". Since "the protection originally
afforded by the foreskin has been given by clothing for thousands of
years, the foreskin has, in the course of time, suffered the loss of
its main purpose; it has become the dispensable rudiment of
1) According to the latest researches of Dr. L. Schultze
(p. 209) at different times the bushman penis is both dependent (pendulus)
and projecting (rectus).
a former protective organ, and is now in the course of constant atrophy".
Through domestication, which has in other respects had a negative effect
upon sexuality, man, among other advantageous characteristics, has suffered
the loss of the retractability of the foreskin to a great degree (2)
I call attention to the fact that our major domestic animals, the cow,
horse and dog have come to rely upon the obstetric assistance of human
beings in "dropping"; and that in covering, man must often also help,
by placing the erect organ of the bull into the vagina of the cow in
order thus to facilitate the procedure. It is open to doubt just what
factors brought about this degeneration of retractibility in the human
being, whether it is at all a consequence or attendant phenomenon of
the process of transformation of the mammalian penis into the penis
pendulus, whether it was favored by the fact that the anterior extremities
developed into manipulatory organs, hands,(3) which could be of assistance
at the decisive moment, or whether, with the abandonment of periods
of heat, a steady preparedness (semper pronto, as Casanova says) set
in. All three factors could have been of influence.
In short, all over the world, in peoples that do not circumcise themselves
in youth, the retraction of the penis is executed manually, the glans
is exposed, or as Verlaine so finely puts it, is "decapped", (décalotté).
Among us it is done secretly, in Japan this is almost a public affair;
having the penis constantly in a retracted state is part of the national
character of the Japanese. In Japan it
1) That the prepuce is in the course of atrophy is a
statement still to be proved. If it is to be considered merely a protective
organ, then it is not exactly appropriate for primitive man, who goes
about naked in the thorny underbrush, to circumcise and thus deprive
Himself of this natural organ of protection. (B.)
2) Meisenheimer (p 475) notes "that the domestication of animals has
brought about a truly extravagant development of the scrotum In the
majority of domestic mammals" Compare the tame boar of many genera of
swine with the wild boar, and the wild species of sheep and cattle with
the related tame ones.
3) Prof. Enderlein observed, according to an oral communication, the
female of the long-tailed monkey pulling the penis of the male with
her right paw until it finally performed the sexual act.
is everywhere said that the member of the European is "kawa-kamuri"
(kawa-skin, kamuri-covered). A Japanese is very much ashamed
of being kawakamuri. Alsutane Hirata ("Ibuki Oroshi") already
called attention to the difference between the penis of the European
and that of the Japanese, comparing the European penis to that of a
dog. One also recognizes in Japanese art of 1751-1780 the dog-like penis
of the Dutchman; it was even thought that the glans was covered during
erection also. Our guarantor, the Japanese physician Adachi, gives us
some interesting and detailed information on the psychic phenomena that
lead to denudation of the glans.
"Every Japanese entering maturity asks himself in the beginning why
his glans is not completely free like that of other adults, and in this
way arrives at an unfortunate suspicion of the naturalness of his own
member". He therefore shoves the foreskin back. "This operation is practiced
by every one, but it is kept secret". It is no custom "but an almost
universal and quite secret usage", which is "dictated by that shame
Adachi considers phimosis the origin of this practice*. Here again
the effect is confused with the motive. Indeed, Adachi himself gives
a mimetic one as inductive (the model of the denuded penis of the adults).
*I do not see where Bryk reads this - in Adachi,
Buntaro, Über den Penis der Japaner, Zeitschrift f. Morphologie
und Anthrop., 5 Heft 2, p.351-356 (1903) Adachi says nothing on
the subject except when discussing the baring of the glans: "The
origin of this strange idiocyncracy would be found in phimosis or in
one of the circumcision rites."(RS)
The perpetually free glans of the Japanese is called by Adachi "an
artificial phenomenon". The denudation is attained in the following
manner: the foreskin is shoved back behind the corona glandis
and often retained in that position by means of a string, so that finally,
in many cases, it "cannot be extended forward any more to cover the
glans". The conduct of Japanese is interesting when the penis is to
be exposed. At the bath or medical examinations (e.g. for military service)
a Japanese would never present himself otherwise than decapped. If,
as sometimes happens, the prepuce slips forward again, he quickly draws
it back in order not to offend against good form. With us the contrary
is the case. A European, in a similar position, would quickly draw his
retracted foreskin forward. Likewise the Eskimo, who goes about naked
in his igloo, but who never forgets to tie up his foreskin with a fish
sinew to prevent the glans from becoming visible. Art furnishes us with
similar parallels. While Japanese art never represents the penis otherwise
than denuded, occidental art in naked statues or pictures always shows
it covered by the probiscidiform continuation of the foreskin, except
in phallic representations: one need but recall Greek plastic art with
its Adonis, Phoebus, Dionysus, etc. To us the penis looks
fine when covered with the foreskin and for this reason Doiteau attempts
to perform postectomy in such a way that the circumcised penis looks
as if it were uncircumcised. This is exactly the case in Africa as well:
those tribes that are circumcised always represent the penis in this
way on their wooden statues; the neighboring tribes, however, that are
unacquainted with circumcision, constantly represent it as membrum
1) Compare also von Sydow, Handbuch d. afrikanischen
Plastik, (Berlin, 1930).
Language has also retained the differences just described of representative
art for the designation of the denuded penis. In Europe, since Aristotle,
the denuded tip of the penis has universally been called "acorn" (Lat.
glans) because a certain similarity between the fruit and the
semi-denuded penis cannot be denied. In adults, as a result either
of masturbation or repeated sexual intercourse, the tip of the glans
often becomes visible, the shrunken and retracted foreskin leaving a
greater or lesser portion of the glans free, remaining in this position
permanently. This preputial crown, netted with folds and swollen veins
together with the tip of the penis, does actually remind one of the
acorn cup with the acorn peeping out. However, among the Japanese, where
the glans is worn free and consequently looks different, it is called
"kito", turtle-head, because, as has been shown by the relationship
of the serpent cult to phallic worship, it resembles the head of a reptile.
The original concept "acorn" did not fully differentiate the glans
(strictly speaking) from the foreskin that half
covered it, conceiving both parts of the organ as going together according
to the figure. I have called attention to the fact also that the ancient
Israelites originally had no independent concept of the foreskin, because
they considered it to be a part of the skin covering of the penis. But
according to Blanchard, the Latin praeputium already contains
a reference to circumcision, since the word putium is said to be derived
from puto (a putando dictur). And according to Stieda
(p. 240) even the Italian putto, puzzo (puzzoso), which
is known in German as Putte, is to be derived from putium;
putte would then be equivalent to Schwanzlein (little tail).
Those primitive peoples that are acquainted with circumcision differentiate
quite definitely between the foreskin and the denudation of the glans,
or the state of circumcision. Among the Nandi there are different designations
for the circumcised and uncircumcised penis (pirtit). The Pitta-Pitta
call the uncircumcised boy "Nulla-maro," i.e., possessor of a
foreskin, in contradistinction to the circumcised, who is called "Kati"
(head) and his circumcised member "mondo". In Europe the glans
is also often called "head" (e.g. the Finns)(1) as in Japan (Adachi,
p. 1, note 2). In the former place, however, head is to be taken to
mean the pileus of the mushroom.
1) But "head" has also the signification of tip or end.
The Finnish scientific term is terska.
"The edible boletus, on account of its form, is often the subject,
among Europeans as well as Japanese, of common jokes, in which, be it
emphasized, the Japanese conceives of the thicker portion as a 'head'
Eberth, in his strictly scientific work, still compares the glans to
the pileus of a mushroom. "Head" is probably the most frequent designation
of the glans and the "decap" of Verlaine, as well as the Polish "kapucyna,
rznac" (to masturbate, literally, "to beat a Capuchin", from capuche)
are no doubt further figurative as well as
national derivations in connection with the covering or uncovering
of the head. In this conception, naturally, the most obvious function
of the head, that of eating, is kept in mind, and this explains why
primitive man often identifies cohabitation with eating, as is shown
by the Nandi phrase (Bryk, p. 225). The emotions of the head are also
transferred to its likeness: thus a Nandi woman when seeing an inflamed
penis says, "He is angry". The word "phimosis" as well, is derived from
similar primitive associations, from phimos, a muzzle, being the foreskin
which pathologically cannot be retraced, muzzling the mouth.
Even more remarkable and more valuable for our study are the deductions
of von Sydow who sees in the extravagant exaggeration of the size of
the head in the plastic art of primitive peoples a subconscious dependence
of the primitive's imagination on the phallic representation, which
dominates him completely.
"But this striking peculiarity is also founded erogenetically on the
picture of the erect phallus. For it is then noticed that the glans
is enlarged out of all proportion to the organ as such. The relationship
of size between the glans and the member corresponds exactly to that
enormity of the head in primitive figures! lt now becomes clear why,
in mask costumes, such extraordinary emphasis is placed on the mask
itself, because it is the symbol of that part of the body most sensitive
to pleasure." (von Sydow, p. 102.)
It is certainly of major importance whether the canon advanced by
Sydow, supposedly binding for the plastic art of all primitive peoples,
is valid or not. Moreover, the phallic interpretations of this well
known art theorist are of fundamental significance in the matter at
hand; his autoanalysis by means of the discovery of an otherwise suppressed
but formative power of forced concep
tion, is closely bound up with the representation of the glans. Not
less interesting are the word formations that are based on no visible
models (serpent-head, acorn, head, mouth), but that have arisen out
of abstract reflections. Thus, the strictly scientific name of the penis
in its normally pendent condition is "membrum mortuum", dead
member, while when stiff and erect it is called alive, "membrum vivum"
(Eberth). In truth, a very remarkable terminology that designates the
lasting condition as something dead and the unusual condition (to be
sure, one that is swelled with life) as normal, living - a point of
view which we also find among negroes. The Nandi woman, beholding the
relaxed penis after coitus, says, nakwisha kufa, "he has died"!
For her it is dead. Throughout the entire line of reasoning we find
the phallic, exhibitionistic concept, which imputes to the life-giving
phallus a power that conquers death and which was thought or wished
to be everlasting.
Similar modes of thinking play a decisive role in the emotional life
of the child, fill his imagination and dominate his whole ego. In nature
he observed the stiffened member of the domestic animals, or in the
bush that of the wild mammals; also the half exposed, glandiform penis
of his father or other adults (Cf. Noah and Ham). He refers these engrams
thus received directly to himself and notices that he is different,
that a piece of "meat" covers what should be exposed. He will have it
out and plucks at his member. Local irritations (e.g. phimosis)
also seem to play a part in the release of onanism (Kronfeld, p. 532).
It allows him no rest, it torments, it harasses the child, who longs
for the moment when he will finally have succeeded in drawing the foreskin
back behind the groove of the glans (sulcus retroglandularis).
In this manner he removes an infantile phimosis and performs a "post-natal
act", which Trusen really considers circumcision to be, quite instinctively,
one might almost
say, automatically. Masturbation is only an attendant phenomenon, it
is not that which gives the deciding impulse to these manipulations
but rather the picture of the phallus; "whether buck and bull or man
was the prototype of the phallus that became the symbol of the cult,
is quite immaterial. Before man actually realized the signification
of the sexual parts of the buck, he had most certainly become duly attentive
to his own. Man always drew conclusions from himself and applied them
to other beings, real or imagined ... Before men saw the bull in the
zodiac, they must have been acquainted with the common, Indian bull,
whose powerful member undoubtedly attracted their attention. The purpose
of the member was known to them from experience and they therefore considered
the possessor of the strongest member to be especially fitted to illustrate
the power of procreation. When they made an image of a prominent person
or an anthropomorphic god, they did not forget to supply him at times
with an immense sexual tool as a visible sign of his superiority". (Kraus
in Dulaure, p. 6.)
These or similar thoughts may have animated a mature, adult man, when
he made himself his phallus-god; they do not apply to the child. Only
the optical impression of the denuded penis, which he had a chance to
see more often in animals than in men, and which is there more striking
on account of its considerably greater size, had an effect upon his
imagination and first impelled him to denudation, which otherwise, according
to Stieda (p. 261) is manifest only in adults and "without special manual
assistance only during erection when the member has become stiff."
This mechanical uncovering of the glans
is the fundamental motive for cirucmcision. It did not cause circumcision,
but stimulated it and prepared the ground. It is curiousto find
that even among peoples who circumcise their children, there are still
practices and precepts, which clearly show this
custom of denudation. "Among many Turkish families the foreskin is
retracted after birth and the process frequently repeated in order prophylactically
to remove adhesions". (Risa) Perhaps it is for a similar reason that
many fathers masturbate their children, on which Tessmann reports (III,
p. 509): "Onanism is rare but there is prevalent among the Simaku the
remarkable custom of fathers massaging the penis of their little boys.
They sit on the four footed bed and take the member of the boy between
their big and second toes, or if they sit lower they sometimes knead
it with their hands also, which the boys do not at all object to. I
observed this custom several times. That is probably the reason why
the little fellows, though only four to six years old, had erections
every moment, which were not very noticeable, but often slyly hidden."'
Risa first argued in favor of purposed denudation, but it must have
arisen originally out of quite other and much more primitive motives.
Preuss (p. 281) reports: "a child that is fat, 'surrounded by flesh',
must, according to Max Samuel, look circumcised at least at the time
of erection (of the child's penis)", and thus is not required to be
circumcised, according to the Jewish rite. Here then, it is clear that
denudation is considered a substitute for circumcision. In principle
circumcision is displaced by denudation. As a matter of fact, however,
boys who are not circumcised until they reach puberty also denude their
glans manually, and it is noteworthy that parents and older people prohibit
touching the member with the hands. (Bryk, I, p. 220.) Even among the
Jews there are exaggerated orders that forbid touching one's member.
Thus we read in the Talmud, according to Buxdorf (p. 112): Whoever touches
his hand to his (sexual) member, let his hand be struck off to its middle.
1) When I asked whether these massages of the penis
among the Simaku were perhaps for the purpose of denuding the glans,
Mr. G. Tessmann answered that he had forgotten to ask that.
when urinating (1), one may not take his penis into his hand. Whoever
takes his sexual member into his hand and urinates, it is as if he brought
the flood into the world. (Cf. also Wunderbar, p. 27.)
1) The ancient Israelites probably urinated in a crouching
position, like the negroes, (Bryk, I, p. 101.) Reinig has also observed
this manner of urinating among the Islamttic Pamir-Kirghiz and Tajiks.
The "phallic hand" is also connected with denudation and masturbation.
Dulaure says (p. 215): "The extended middle finger represents the membrum
virile and the bent fingers on each side are the testicles. That
is why the Romans called the middle finger digitus impudicus
or infamis, and the Greeks, the lewd finger, which expression
is to a degree similar to the Latin and referred to shameful secret
practices, once less common than now."
But the skin of the penis is also denuded by means of chemical influence.
I have observed this peculiar manner of retraction among the Nandi.
I wrote the following about it (Bryk, I, p. 225):
"Among the Semi-hamites it (masturbation) occurs more from the desire
to have the foreskin drawn back as early as possible, in order thus
to resemble the older folks more, than to satisfy awakening desires.
It is common practice among the Nandi for the boys to smear sticky,
milky juice of the euphorbiaceous plant yeptiringuet on the glans
and to masturbate (lat pertit) with it. The juice of this plant
is quite caustic and causes the glans to swell up strongly, so that
the foreskin can easily be drawn back; which is what is wanted. During
the process the boys call out, "Suren suren, ce kwamon pek a metet"
(Become big and I'll give you something to eat). The blossoms of this
plant are usually stuck into the hair, the separated milk serving as
the agglutinant. Now the little fellow can go to a girl and try it".
Apparently this is a case of artificially produced paraphimosis. This
treatment seems to be very painful, for when a moran (circumcised warrior)
showed me the plant
and I requested him to go through the whole procedure before me, he
drew his lips forward and exclaimed an inarticulate "Ooh!" as if he
meant to express the pain brought about by this caustic poison. He explained
to me later that that was what he had actually meant.
I know of only one other reference in anthropological literature to
chemical denudation, among the Massai. Merker (p. 345) writes the following
on "ol jogi," (Euphorbia spec.): "In order to appear circumcised,
the children smear the juice of the Euphorbia on the glans, which then
swells up and holds back the prepuce". P. 63 (note) tells us the same
thing in Latin: "Ut decisi (circumcisi videantur pueri interdum glandem
succu herbae Euphorbiae genere, nomine 'ol jogi', oblinunt. Glans tumescens
prohibet, ne praeputium prolabatur".
Merker's explanation that this process was for the purpose of "appearing
circumcised" is quite untenable. For when the little boy has finally
succeeded in making the prepuce retractable behind the Sulcus glandis,
he does not repeat this chemical manipulation; nor does his penis
look circumcised, because the prepuce automatically slips forward and
constantly covers the glans. Moreover it would be ridiculous if a little
shaver tried to pass for circumcised, since among the Nandi and Massai
circumcision is performed during the fourteenth year at the earliest,
usually about the seventeenth or eighteenth, and no one would seriously
expect to find a child circumcised. He could be compared to little boys
who paint themselves a moustache with charcoal, but who are never taken
seriously by any one. Then again, a circumcised penis looks quite different
from one that is merely denuded. (Cf. p. 207.)
lt is not impossible that the poisonous herbs used in some places to
treat the wound of circumcision (e.g. among the Magwamba (Junod), which
"are not medicinal
herbs, but actually poison the wound", were used originally for chemical
denudation in the manner of the Euphorbia described, and have been received
into the ceremony of circumcision as "survivals". According to Buschan
(p. 239) similar features may be traced in Indian erotic practices.
There "is a whole list of recipes . . . which have the purpose, by means
of rubbing in sharp (caustic) vegetable matter, of evoking an inflammation,
even blistering, of the skin of the penis, whereby the latter increases
Jacobus X . . . mentions a kind of transition from manual to chemical
denudation of the glans. Among the inhabitants of Tahiti the boys make
use of the urine caught in the pocket of the foreskin to loosen up and
extend their prepuce, which usually clings close to the glans. Since
Jacobus X ... gives very interesting information on the masculine genitalia
of the Tahitians, I quote the passage in question. The genitalia of
the Tahitian, says Jacobus X. . . are very similar to those of the inhabitant
of Central Europe.
"The usually cylindrical penis of fine, dark red color with a slight
mixture of ochre and sepla, is on the average 18 (16-20) centimeters
long and 4-5 centimeters in diameter, seldom more, and rarely reaching
22 centimeters In erection the penis hardens and stands almost vertical
in the twenty year old tane (youth), so that it touches the abdomen,
which, according to my guarantor, is almost impossible in a penis that
remains half soft. The glans is relatively large. The testicle is said
to be larger than those of any other race and to reach the size of a
hen's egg. At fifteen to sixteen years, sometimes even at twelve, it
has already attained a development equal to that of the twenty year
old European and is the size of a dove's egg. Although there is very
little growth of beard, the genitals are already covered with plentiful
tender and curly, black or chestnut-colored hair. The precocious
prepares for the adventures of love in his eleventh or twelfth year,
sometimes even his tenth. In order to get his glans free, he takes the
foreskin between his thumb and index finger when he urinates, so that
only a small opening remains for the passage of the urine; the urine,
in collecting, forms a jacket around the glans under the foreskin, and
since the lad repeats this several times a day, there is a regular mechanical
distension of the opening. If that is not sufficient to free the glans,
the lad cuts through the ligament with a large piece of flint and heals
the wound without danger or pain by applying to the wound some cotton
saturated with the juice of an arnica like plant. Immediately thereafter
his intercourse with the feminine sex begins. Coitus is performed from
the front, rarely from behind. Between his twentieth and fortieth year
(according to the same guarantor) the tane has an exceptionally strong
impulse to discharge".
According to the general opinion of physicians, the foreskin of the
youth does not retract with denudation, for which reason this condition
is looked upon as a sign of his "virginity". Wolfsheimer (p. 21) writes:
"There is no positive doubt among physicians that in Christians of the
age of 13 the prepuce is so tight that the glans of the penis cannot
be denuded without the greatest pain, for which reason physicians are
wont to consider this tightness of the prepuce as one of the signs of
virginity. Although as far as stiffness and erection of the penis of
such youth is concerned, it is sometimes found to be capable of and
suitable for copulation; nevertheless, we think it unfitted for generation
itself on account of the narrowness of the prepuce".
Thus the foreskin "muzzles" the youth and is a serious
hindrance to completing the sexual act. We have shown that this becomes
a complex governing his entire emotional life.
The complex can often lead to very serious mental de-
pressions and disturbances. In one case known to me, the entire schizoid
inferiority complex of a young man, could be traced to his inability
to manually uncover his glans. The man in question, by the way a very
talented young natural scientist, suffered from a congenital phimosis,
which he unfortunately recognised too late, for when subsequently as
an adult, he let himself be circumcised his inferiority complex had
already completely ruined him. The pathological, forced images, from
which the Bugir of South Celebes suffer, and which, according to Karsch
(p. 215) have some connection with homosexuality, also have their origin,
undoubtedly, in the foreskin-complex which we have revealed.
"The patients have attacks of fear that last for hours followed by
great fatigue, during which they think that their penis is about to
withdraw into their abdomen, which would lead to death were not the
patient or some one else to hold the member fast just in time. This
hallucination is said to be considered a disease, koro, but is
nevertheless kept secret".
Hochenegg also mentions cases of cryptophallism.
On achieving the denudation (of his glans) the
man`s painful anxiety is not yet over. During intercourse, indeed, even
during the preliminary stiffening of his member, once
morethe foreskin-complexmakes itself obvious
in an uncomfortable and negative manner.
During erection the glans, (which together
with the entire Radix penis increases considerably in
size), emerges from its enveloping preputial cover, in such a manner
that the prepuce gradually draws backwards behind the corona
glandis, that is, as far as the youth has been able
to achieve with his manipulation. Here, as a rule, it stops framing
the groove behind the glans in a "collar", and must first
be pushed further backwards by hand if ever the same position should
be acheived as during the immissio penis.
lt is only after this that the now completely smoothed blade of
the foreskin conforms with the
skin of the member. The boy, constrained by his foreskin complex often
experiences disapointment as a result of this, he had imagined that
the foreskin would go further backwards, as shown by the examples of
the erection of the dog, horse or bull,but now he notices that
the frenulum, the ligament joining the blade of the foreskin with the
glans and penis,prevents any further backwards movement. He
conceives the idea of cutting through the frenulum. (1) Perhaps he had
already heard from his older comrades in suffering, that due to its
shortness it sometimes rips during coitus.
"The Kayapo wear a cap, which they fasten on to the prepuce, after
they have cut through the frenulum with a taqua splinter". (Kissenberth
after Koch, p. 110.)
Cases of severing of the frenulum are known to me in the literature
only among the inhabitants of the Loyalty Islands (Sarasin) and, as
just mentioned, among the Tahitians. That among the latter the severing
of the frenulum is directly dependent upon the denudation of the glans
explains the reason for that remarkable mutilation. It is only now that
the youth undertakes sexual intercourse.
1) In the case of a short frenulum, by which the glans
of the penis is drawn crooked during erection, ejaculation is made more
Kobelt (p. 18) maintains that, as in the case of the glans plate of
the stallion, the human glans increases in diameter in the vagina, though
to a lesser degree.
"Only with the action of the external stimulus of friction during the
process of coitus does the glans (especially the corona glandis)
attain its complete expansion, and only now does it enter the second
stage of sexual excitement, namely, that of the materialization of the
sexual sensation proper, and this becomes intensified with more and
more urgent need of stimulus to the highest degree of the oestrus, which
has as its direct consequence the
ejaculatio seminis and as its indirect, final placidity".
Kobelt writes (p. 60): "In pressing further in, the sharply projecting
crown on the glans slides over the wall of both bulbi by a sudden jerk
and this ring-shaped cushion embraces the neck and body of the penis
like the hame does the neck of a horse; behind this the skin of the
glans comes into intimate contact with the elastic and tender padding
of the vaginal tube".
It is remarkable that Kobelt does not mention at all the part played
by the foreskin during copulation; to him, apparently, it does not exist
as an accessory organ during the rhythmical friction. Nor could I find
any information on this in the literature, in spite of my pains. Only
in Adler did I find an allusion to the subject, which I quote. It confirms
my observation. "If, accordingly, it is an indisputable fact that the
clitoris, and especially its glans, is not by any means an absolutely
necessary organ for the attainment of the highest sexual pleasure, its
anatornical favor, being supplied with special and plentiful nerves,
seems to require explanation. It appears to me to be much more plausible
that these collection points of the finest nerve endings, directed externally,
and to be found in both sexes, indicate that by friction in general
of the sexual parts a peculiar condition may be evoked, when once the
rnysterious forebodings of the sexual instinct have furtively made themselves
known. Both, the glans penis and the glans clitoridis,
have their movable skin coverings, their prepuce. But I do not consider
this to be a protection, intended carefully to guard and preserve the
sensitivity of the fine nerve endings, as has many times been said where,
then, are the Jews, the Turks and all the Mohammedans, who, in spite
of circumcision, are noted for their sensuality! - but quite on the
contrary, an accidental stimulant. Amid all the movements of the body,
these skin folds must also be moved, and if the sexual parts are in
an excitable condition (similar to
erection), nature in this way points out the direction and course the
impulse is to take. I make bold to go even further and believe that
the typical secretion of the glans, which, as smegma praeputiale,
forms so abundantly in these very heavy folds, is a link in the chain
of natural stimulants which instinctively lead the individual to the
satisfaction of the sexual desire".
I have myself already mentioned this among the suggested explanations
in connection with the physiological motive (p. 75). The cohabitant
sometimes experiences pain due to the narrowness of the vagina because
his foreskin, which also contributes to enlarging the volume of the
root, becomes strangulated. It may even happen, according to Waldeyer
(p. 653) that "minor injuries occur to the foreskin, glans, and especially
the frenulum particularly when this is too short" . But it is much
more common that, when the vagina is not too narrow, the foreskin, bent
back and made to "disappear" along the smooth surface of the penis,
or kept behind the groove of the glans in some other way, begins to
pass up and back over the sulcus due to the rhythm of the friction,
making the contact with the surface of the glans more intimate and thus
contributing directly to accelerate the ejaculation, since it is around
the neck of the glans
that the most sensitive centers of feeling (1) are found. This acceleration,
naturally, is undesirable to both partners. At first, in the heat of
youthful ardor and with his egocentric sexual nature, the young man
does not bother much about it, but with the passing of the years when
the symptoms of pre-impotence appear, then the emotional depression
reappearing with the foreskin complex becomes acute and what is more
natural than to think of a remedy? Obviously, by means of magic: one
gladly sacrifices to the gods what is troublesome to him, what he wants
to be rid of.
1) According to Buschke the papillae sometimes seen
here signify that the glans "once possessed a horny covering, which
gradually was lost."
It is also possible that the frequent occurrence of children "born
circumcised" may have given the neurotic the idea of the superfluity
of the prepuce, as Niebuhr supposes (p. 79). The absence of the foreskin
in children born circumcised may have convinced autochthons "that the
foreskin was of no use. And since it was sometimes found to be a hindrance
in coitus, this may have caused circumcision". It may also be assumed
that the first surgical removal of a phimosis gave occasion directly
for incisio or circumcisio, but at any rate the emotions
of the considerably erotically tormented victim must have been quite
ripe for this self punishment, prior to any secondary, external impulses
which may have driven him to perform the act. Even without this, without
a model, the now senescent man, ever since his youth under the spell
of the foreskin complex, would and must logically have arrived at the
idea of removing the source of his torment. And by the removal of the
prepuce, the erogenetic zone must have shifted more toward the root
of the penis.
It is no matter of chance that according to Israelitic myth, the first
man to have himself circumcised was not a child, nor a boy nor even
a young man, but the ninety-nine year old Abraham, in whom the symptoms
potence were making themselves felt but who still wanted to have a
child. Dr. Arnold Schultze, the well know explorer, gave me a statement
of the negroes of Central Africa, according to which the Bagandi, who
circumcised themselves between their twentieth and twenty-fifth year,
perform the operation only "when they can not do it properly". It is
also known that in men who are uncircumcised a too great sensitivity
of the glans may lead to a kind of impotence.
Bloch says on this (p. 498): "Very peculiar and in a way analogous
to vaginism in women is impotence through too great sensitivity to pain
of the glans or local inflammations. The pains experienced during coitus
by one in this condition are often so severe, that all pleasure in sexual
intercourse is lost".(1)
1) The glans, after it has been denuded for the first
time is so sensitive that boys give up masturbating for a time as a
result of the pain.
The failure of masculine potency during coitus, which is often only
transitory, naturally caused primitive peoples to think about it. One
need only call to mind the many aphrodisiacs known to popular therapeutics.
Among Indian erotic practices one meets repeatedly with allusions to
many measures taken against the unwelcome symptoms of impotence. Very
remarkable (2 ) are precautions of the Chinese, the blood treatment
of the penis which they administer themselves: "The Chinese, for whom
sexual activity forms such an important part of existence, is naturally
quite keen on preserving and increasing his potency. There are countless
more or less nonsensical devices and medicaments that serve this purpose.
Of the latter the most common are pulverized deer-horn and tiger-bone,
or even tiger flesh and the famous Ginseng
2) There is in European folklore an instrument against
impotence, which, though recommended only in derision, is of a certain
psychogenic interest. If one is no more able, says the Pole, then let
him procure a "Kolbuszuwa spoen" (Kolbuszowska lyzka). Kolbuszowa in
Galicia was famous for its excellent turners and wood carvers. The spoon
in question consists of two scoops with a handle in the middle. The
two scoops are placed under the scrotum and the handle under the flaccid
penis. It was probably a similar idea that gave rise to the new invention
of a penis support "Amor Star."
root. One method seems especially worthy of mention and appears eminently
successful, namely, a local blood treatment performed by the patient
himself, not by injection, which would have little to recommend it here,
but by the old Chinese method of pinching. Along the body of the penis
one or two Mark-sized, dark-blue wales are pinched and after twelve
to twenty four hours a noticeable intensification of the power of sexual
reaction appears, apparently caused by the stimulating effect of the
extravascular blood and the increased blood stream necessary for its
resorption. Perhaps this extremely simple method may afford many an
old man back home a little pleasure". (Hartmann.)
Primitive man soon found out that by means of all kinds of manipulation
and intervention in a positive sense the perfection of the mechanics
of copulation and even its refinement could be effected. The Chinese
blood treatment is only a stage in this direction. The Sumatra Islander
goes farther: he does not pinch the skin of his penis but implants in
it a number of small stones or silver and gold platelets.
According to Hagen the process of implantation
is performed by native itinerant medicine sellers in the following manner:
"The skin of the masculine organ (not including the foreskin) is stretched
with the fingers in such a way that it is drawn strongly to either side
and back toward the root of the penis. Then with a sharp knife a cut
about two centimeters long is made down to the fascia, and into this
cut, in the hypodermic cellular tissue, is set a small white stone,
usually of one centimeter, but sometimes double this size, prismatic
in form and with rounded edges. Then the skin is let go, which, due
to its elasticity, returns to its former position and covers the stone.
The latter, finally, is situated one or two centimeters away from the
cut, whereby suppuration is prevented. But it seems that the latter
is not always
successful, in view of the decidedly high degree of local irritation:
the man whose disfigured penis I saw had had these stones set in about
twenty five years ago, in order, as he said, to please the women, who
were "crazy" about such a man. There had originally been ten such stones,
but only four were now left; the others, as he put it, had been lost
in the course of time, that is, had been cast out by the tissue. The
same man also told me: rich and aristocratic Rajahs of the Tobah lands
had silver and gold platelets set in instead of these white stones.
But this custom is rare".
From the legends of the Africans it may be concluded that the negroes
also retain a subconscious recollection of a kind of implantation. In
a fable, the spider-man has "the smith make him another iron thorn for
his member". (Frobenius, Das schwarze Dekameron, p. 273, 1910.) Artificial
instruments of stimulation may also be applied to other parts. The glans
is perforated and into the hole is placed a foreign body that embraces
the friction surfaces of both bulbi more tightly. Thus arose "Ampallang"
and "Kambiong". In discussing the instruments of stimulation of the
masculine organ of animals, Meisenheimer (p. 342) remarks: "I have proof
from the sexual psychology of man that these formations actually do
exert a sexual stimulus. In man, as well as in most of the lower mammals,
the stiff, firm organ of procreation, with its swollen glans, is in
itself an organ of stimulation. But that is not always sufficient. I
shall not speak here of the many devices which are the products of super-refined
decadent civilization, but simply of the almost universal practices
of primitive man. It is customary among the Dajaks of Borneo and the
inhabitants of North Celebes for the men to perforate their glans transversely
above the urethra and to place in the artificial canal thus formed,
just before coitus, a small metal rod having a ball at each end, of
which one is removable to allow the intro-
duction of the rod.
20. PENIS OF A NATIVE OF CELEBES WITH KAMBIONG (after Miklucho-Maclay)
In Borneo this apparatus is called Ampallang, in Celebes, Kambiong,
and its use is so general, its effect so esteemed, that the Dajak women
have an actual right of demanding the application of this instrument
by the men. Refusal would be a ground for divorce. That is not enough.
In Celebes the stimulative effect of the Kambiong is further supported
by the eyelids and eye-lashes of a buck that are tied around the margin
of the glans (Fig. 20), which in Java are replaced by strips of goat-skin.
The Araucanians of South America seem to make use of similar devices;
they apply to the same part little bristles of horse hair, the so-called
Thomas Candisch, already in the year 1588, reported the perforatio
glandis for the island of Capul, one of the
Zulu Islands. His sailors observed "among the natives a peculiar kind
of infibulation; after circumcision a tin nail was driven through the
glans of every masculine child: the point of the nail was split and
then bent back, the head of the nail forming a little crown. The wound
caused by the driving in of the nail during childhood healed without
causing the infibulated child much pain. The people drew the nail out
and put it back in the glans according to their need and taste. In order
to convince themselves of the truth of this as well as out of a reasonable
curiosity, the companions of Candisch themselves tested this insertion
and removal of the nail on one of the sons of the chieftain (Kaziken),
a ten-year old boy. This custom or usage was said to have been introduced
at the instigation of the women; for when the latter saw that the men
were strongly addicted to sodomy (pederasty), they paid a visit to the
chieftains and demanded, for the future, the use of the infibulation
described in order to prevent this evil by such great inconvenience".
(Karsch, pp. 217-218.)
But it is difficult to see why this means should be a hindrance only
in homo-erotic practices, and lose its effectiveness in normal sexual
acts. Apparently this device is similar to the Kambiong.
From these examples it must be clear to every one that man is capable
of mutilating the penis out of purely erogenic grounds. In the case
of the Ampallang and the Kambiong he must submit to the
painful operation of the perforation of the glans.
But it is also said that perforation of the glans is performed without
any manifest purpose of intensifying the libido sexualis during
coitus, but to be purely a plastic expression of self-mortification.
Motilinia reports about the people of Teoucan, Teotetlan and Cozcatlan
"that the young men of marriageable age perforated their penis and drew
under the skin a
rope as thick as one's finger and from ten to twenty ells long, and
if any one fainted during this operation it was said of him that he
had already sinned and had had intercourse with women. We hear exactly
the same thing from Yucatan where sometimes penitents place themselves
in a row, each one perforates his penis,(1) and a string, as long as
possible, drawn through the members of all the penitents together".
1) Evidently the glans. (B.)
The drawing of the string through all the members as through the eye
of a needle probably symbolizes the feeling of connection on the part
of the class of men in question; perhaps there is a homo-erotic idea
at the bottom of this "union".
We have attempted to describe the psychic phenomena in the sexual life
of man from the awakening of the sexual instinct to the emotional depression
of the neurotic, and have placed circumcision in a direct connection
with, or in dependence to, them. His suggestibility, produced by the
"omnipotence of thought," vouched for the efficacy of artificial means
But circumcision is not an insurance policy against impotence One day
Abraham, or any other man, notices that in spite of circumcision his
erotic energy gradually begins to fail, then approximately the following
thoughts take hold of him: "A woman can always, at least from the physiological
point of view, receive, but the maliciousness of fate often plays a
man, in erotic equipment, a nasty trick. How fine it is for women. How
would it be if I transformed myself into a woman"?
This is, then, a purely bi-sexual thought which arose perhaps as a
result of a homo-erotic bent. He now further mutilates his sexual organ,
seizes a stone knife, slits up the urethra with it from the scrotum
to the glans, enlarges the wound with his fingers until finally his
ber is transformed into a vulva. Now he can be both: man and woman.
With the execution of introcision the circumcision idea, from the physiological-erotic
standpoint, has reached the termination of its complete development:
only in a psychic direction could it now change, be transformed, deepened,
by suppressing the original purpose and putting in its place new factors,
depending on which cultural unit it met with. In this manner, during
the course of a long time, the original sense of circumcision was changed,
as it is most obviously shown in the Mosaic Yahweh cult. Quite correctly
Gunkel says (p. 17): "We may only ask what historical Israel thought
of this custom, but we must keep in mind from the beginning the possibilities
that this later sense is quite different from the original one; further,
that the conception of this custom has changed during historical times,
and finally, that it was executed according to ancient usage, without
much thought on the matter at all".
CUSTOMS AND GEOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION
Just as every other good discovery immediately becomes incorporated
in the state social welfare system, such was the case with circumcision.
And according to the culture it found, it received a corresponding stamp
and commensurate significance.
At first the father circumcised his sons: circumcision was purely a
family affair. But primitive society succeeded in immediately seizing
it for another capacity: initiations of boys were already in existence
and circumcision could be made a splendid number. Man, who sought to
raise himself to a level of order out of anarchical chaos, was even
then induced to take social measures in his attempt to solve the questions
of sex; he began to control the marriageable youths, their unbroken
sexual instinct had to be, and was to be, checked by the primitive form
of marriage. At this juncture nothing was more welcome than circumcision
itself: the youth could actually be gagged: when circumcised he had
a visible stamp from society for the concession of marriage and his
maturity.(1) Uncircumcised he was still a child, unclean, neuter. Among
many peoples the candidate for circumcision or novice appears decked
out in feminine ornamentation (Nandi, Bryk, I pp. 118-119); among the
Sluka (Rascher) he is treated like a bride; when called, he answers
with the women's cry, never the men's (Bryk, 1, p. 99). He is an intermediate
1) The introduction of the custom of circumcision presupposes
a time in which peoples still went about in a condition of nakedness.
(Westermarck, p. 234; Reinhardt.)
But circumcision also has its severe disadvantages. It is painful and
more often than not was terminated by unintended, marked disfiguration;
indeed, even by death. Jewish prescriptions contain indications of these
facts. According to these, circumcision may not be performed with a
reed because (as a result of experience) "a portion of the penis could
be cut off". Even more remarkable is the provision cited by Preuss (p.
285) referring apparently to the circumcision of hemaphiliacs: "If two
children (according to R. Jehuda) or three (according to R. Simeon Ben
Gamliel) of the same mother have died as a result of circumcision, the
operation is to be omitted in the case of the third (or fourth). The
same is to be observed if a child of each of three sisters has died".
I think the death of one child would have been sufficient to put this
provision into effect.
It is no wonder that the marriageable youth, considering the fear circumcision
must have exercised, resisted the establishment of the new custom. It
can be determined almost exactly, even among the Jews, how long it took
for the custom of circumcision to become firmly established. The young
people generally offered opposition to it and had to be coerced by means
of whippings, threats of death and torture.