I'd like to know of other castration myths besides the one with Gea, Cronos and that poor guy Ouranos.

I didn't find much with a quick Google search, and the only other case that comes to mind is Samson and Delilah, not really the same but...

Are there other tales in any mythology featuring castration or emasculation?

I don't need an exhaustive list, only one or two popular cases, maybe three if those abound.


3 Answers 3


The story of Cybele(Κυβηλη) and Attis(Αττις)

"‘What causes the impulse [of the devotees of Cybele] to self-castrate?’ I was silent. The Pierid Mousa (Muse) began : ‘A woodland Phrygian boy, the gorgeous Attis, conquered the towered goddess with pure love. She wanted to keep him as her shrine's guardian, and said, "Desire to be a boy always." He promised what was asked and declared, "If I lie, let the Venus [Aphrodite] I cheat with be my last." He cheats, and in the Nympha Sagaritis stops being what he was: the goddess' wrath punished him. She slashes the tree and cuts the Naiad down. The Naiad dies: her fate was the tree's. He goes mad, and imagines that the bedroom roof is falling and bolts to Dindymus' heights. He cries, "Away torches!", "Away whips!", and often swears the Palestine goddesses have him. He even hacked his body with a jagged stone, and dragged his long hair in squalid dirt, shouting, "I deserved it; my blood is the penalty. Ah, death to the parts which have ruined me!" "Ah, death to them!" he said, and cropped his groin's weight. Suddenly no signs of manhood remained. His madness became a model: soft-skinned acolytes toss their hair and cut their worthless organs.’" Ovid, Fasti 4. 222 ff (trans.Boyle)

Pausanias also wrote :

"The local [Phrygian] legend about Attis being this. Zeus [i.e. the Phrygian sky-god identified with Zeus], it is said, let fall in his sleep seed upon the ground, which in course of time sent up a Daimon, with two sexual organs, male and female. They call the daimon Agdistis. But the gods, fearing Agdistis, cut off the male organ. There grew up from it an almond-tree with its fruit ripe, and a daughter of the river Saggarios (Sangarius), they say, took the fruit and laid it in her bosom, when it at once disappeared, but she was with child. A boy was born, and exposed, but wastended by a he-goat. As he grew up his beauty was more than human, and Agdistis [Kybele] fell in love with him. When he had grown up, Attis was sent by his relatives to Pessinos [city in Phrygia], that he might wed the king's daughter. The marriage-song was being sung, when Agdistis appeared, and Attis went mad and cut off his genitals, as also did he who was giving him his daughter in marriage. But Agdistis repented of what she had done to Attis, and persuaded Zeus to grant the body of Attis should neither rot at all nor decay. These are the most popular forms of the legend of Attis." Pausanias, Description of Greece 7. 17. 8 (trans. Jones)


I've found this very interesting article in Wikipedia about Kumarbi.

Kumarbi is the chief god of the Hurrians. He is the son of Anu (the sky), and father of the storm-god Teshub. He was identified by the Hurrians with Sumerian Enlil, by the Greeks as Kronos and by the Ugaritians with El.

Now things get interesting in terms of missing body parts:

The Song of Kumarbi or Kingship in Heaven [...] relates that Alalu was overthrown by Anu who was in turn overthrown by Kumarbi. When Anu tried to escape, Kumarbi bit off his genitals and spat out three new gods. In the text Anu tells his son that he is now pregnant with the Teshub, Tigris, and Tašmišu. Upon hearing this Kumarbi spit the semen upon the ground and it became impregnated with two children. Kumarbi is cut open to deliver Tešub. Together, Anu and Teshub depose Kumarbi.

The Wikipedia article finishes with this:

From the first publication of the Kingship in Heaven tablets scholars have pointed out the similarities between the Hurrian creation myth and the story from Greek mythology of Uranus, Cronus, and Zeus.

  • 1
    Mythology sure has a way to make you cringe sometimes.
    – Tom Sol
    Jan 6, 2020 at 8:17
  • 2
    Yes, it's a lovely subject, isn't it? Incest, cannibalism, bestiality, castration... And there are other gems I discovered through this stack exchange. Mythology never gets boring!
    – Rodia
    Jan 6, 2020 at 12:28

Depending on your criteria, you may find the story of Osiris interesting. In Plutarch's (wikilink) version of the story, after Set (Osiris's brother) had cut Osiris into many pieces and scattered them across the world, Osiris's wife, Isis, found all the pieces except his penis, which had been eaten by a fish.

Plutarch also states that Set steals and dismembers the corpse only after Isis has retrieved it. Isis then finds and buries each piece of her husband's body, with the exception of the penis, which she has to reconstruct with magic, because the original was eaten by fish in the river. According to Plutarch, this is the reason the Egyptians had a taboo against eating fish.

So possibly a case of castration by misadventure?

It's possible that Plutarch's interpretation was inspired by another ancient Egyptian tale - The Tale Of Two Brothers (wikilink) from which the following excerpt is most relevant:

The story centers around two brothers: Anpu (Anubis), who is married, and the younger Bata. The brothers work together, farming land and raising cattle. One day, Anpu's wife attempts to seduce Bata. When he strongly rejects her advances, the wife tells her husband that his brother attempted to seduce her and beat her when she refused. In response to this, Anpu attempts to kill Bata, who flees and prays to Re-Harakhti to save him. The god creates a crocodile-infested lake between the two brothers, across which Bata is finally able to appeal to his brother and share his side of the events. To emphasize his sincerity, Bata severs his genitalia and throws them into the water, where a catfish eats them.

As you'll note, in this one the castration is central to the story and clearly intentional.

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