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543 years ago 1478
543 years ago 1478

What happens in this picture ?!

What on earth is going on here? In the middle, we see Attis, who has just castrated himself. He's bleeding like a stuck pig and holding his balls in his left hand.

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What happens in this picture ?!

What on earth is going on here? In the middle, we see Attis, who has just castrated himself. He's bleeding like a stuck pig and holding his balls in his left hand.

bollocks

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Lying in the bed behind him is his mother, who also happens to be his lover. The goddess Minerva is lying next to her. According to the myth, Attis had an affair. His lover/mother was so incensed that she drove him mad – so mad that he cut off his own balls. He died from his injuries, but came back to life in the spring. It makes Game of Thrones seem pretty tame!

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This picture appears in The City of God, written by the church father Augustine. In this book, he wrote about the difference between life on Earth and life in Heaven – the earthly city and the city of God. He criticised ancient Roman beliefs and promoted Christianity. Why did the Mediaeval maker choose this gruesome scene from the story to illustrate the book? Remember that even the ancient Romans wouldn't allow this scene to be acted on stage. In the Middle Ages, they chose the most horrific scene because secretly, it was the one that they all wanted to see. Just like Game of Thrones really. This picture comes a version of the book that dates from around 1478.