You apparently have to read between the lines just a little bit, but apparently there’s an ancient poem about ladies shopping for shoes that’s actually about shopping for dildos:
The most memorable account of an ancient shopping expedition is found in some comic verses by the third-century BC poet Herodas, who lived in Alexandria, by far the smartest city in the Western world at the time. In his poem a woman called Metro and a couple of her friends visit a shoe shop owned by one Kerdon (‘Mr Profiteer’). As soon as they arrive, slaves bring a bench for the ladies to sit on, while Kerdon tries to interest them in his wares with a pushy sales pitch that mixes extravagant claims for the styles, workmanship and glorious colours of the shoes, with what sounds like a well practised hard-luck story lamenting his life of unremitting toil and all the mouths he has to feed. Eventually every variety of shoe in the shop is brought out – Sikyonians, slippers, boots, Argive sandals, scarlets, flats – before the ladies start haggling about prices and thinking about the footwear they are going to need for an upcoming festival.
It does not take a reader long to spot that the same female character, Metro, features in the poem that comes immediately before the one about the shopping trip in Herodas’ collection; in it she admires a friend’s scarlet dildo and is told that it was made and sold by a man called Kerdon. Most critics have assumed, given the matching names, that the story of the shoe shop should be read as a sequel to the banter about dildoes, and all kinds of sexual double entendre have been unearthed in the encounter with the shopkeeper to suggest that these ladies were interested in something rather more risqué than shoes (Sikyonians, for example, were a sort of Greek footwear, but also a famous variety of cucumber and so a comic term for a phallus, and the ‘scarlets’ are a suspicious match for the scarlet dildo).
The poems themselves may be found in English translation here. I like this snippet from the first one:
It was Kerdo who made it. He works at his house and sells secretly — Every door is afraid of the tax-collectors! — But the things he makes, all of them, are worthy of Athena; you would believe you saw her hand, instead of Kerdo’s. He came here with two, Metro! When I saw them, my eyes nearly burst out with desire. The men certainly have no rams like those! — we are alone — that is sure! And this is not all: their smoothness — a dream; and the stitches — of down, not of thread! Hunt as you might, you could not find another cobbler so kindly disposed toward women.
Similar Sex Blogging: