Obscene books are forbidden; the classics, however, are authorized for educational purposes (Nos.
A mock mass was begun, during which the lections were read cum farsia, obscene songs were sung and dances performed, cakes and sausages eaten at the altar, and cards and dice played upon it.
Phallic and other obscene emblems were carried abroad in processions in Attica both by women and men.
A Texet'ij (" initiatory ceremony ") of women by a woman also took place at Eleusis, characterized by obscene jests and the use of phallic emblems. The sacramental meal on this occasion consisted of the produce of land and sea, certain things (pomegranates, honey, eggs) being forbidden for mystical reasons.
But the Zeus whose grave was shown in Crete, or the Zeus who played Demeter an obscene trick by the aid of a ram, or the Zeus who, in the shape of a swan, became the father of Castor and Pollux, or the Zeus who was merely a rough stone, or the Zeus who deceived Hera by means of a feigned marriage with an inanimate object, or the Zeus who was afraid of Attes, is a being whose myth is felt to be unnatural and in great need of explanation.
Even religion is affected by these irrational notions, and the gods of savages and of many civilized peoples are worshipped with cruel, obscene, and irrational rites.
They make counter attacks on polytheism as a folly and on the shamefulness of obscene myths.
There is also in existence a letter of Calvin, dated 1 533, in which he speaks of Pantagruel, but not of Gargantua, as having been condemned as an obscene book.
His legend includes animal metamorphoses of the most obscene character.
The Orphic poems also played an important part in the controversies between Christian and pagan writers in the 3rd and 4th centuries after Christ; pagan writers quoted them to show the real meaning of the multitude of gods, while Christians retorted by reference to the obscene and disgraceful fictions by which the former degraded their gods.
How little effect this had, however, is shown by the fact that in 1265 Odo, archbishop of Sens, could do no more than prohibit the obscene excesses of the feast, without abolishing the feast itself; that in 1444 the university of Paris, at the request of certain bishops, addressed a letter condemning it to all cathedral chapters; and that King Charles VII.
The Commons had ordered to be printed, among other papers, a report of the inspectors of prisons on Newgate, which stated that an obscene book, published by Stockdale, was given to the prisoners to read.
The Christian and Mahommedan historians could learn little of the Manichaean mysteries and "sacraments," and hence the former charged them with obscene rites and abominable usages.
In a street of Benares similar devotions meet the eye, as dainty maidens pour out phials of holy water over erect stones of the same obscene pattern that was common also in Greece and Italy.
The old sacrificial hymns were probably obscene and certainly nonsensical, and the substitution for them of the psalms, and of lections of the prophets and New Testament, was an enormous gain.
The comic poets satirized them, and Plato and Demosthenes inveighed against them; but they continued to spread, with all their fervid enthusiasm, their superstition and their obscene practices, wide among the people, whose religious cravings were not satisfied with the purely external religions of Hellenism.
He was an ardent social reformer; he secured the abolition of corporal punishment in the schools, the suppression of lotteries, of houses of ill-fame and of obscene literature; he instituted reforms in the hospitals, and insisted on the honours of public burial for the poor.
Here he began to write plays and obscene novels.