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"Like pornográphos, then, ‘anaischuntográphos and rhyparográphos refer to a class of artists and not to a class of art (pornography, anaischuntography, rhyparography). All three words occur only once—even if rhyparographos only turns up in a Latin writer’s coinage—so that their general lack of wider attestation or context seems more readily to have paved the way for the fabrication by later European commentators of genres from producers.

While all three words share this past, anaischuntography—alas—has failed to catch on and has enjoyed none of the wide usage that pornography and rhyparography went on to. By the turn of the twentieth century, for instance, ‘rhyparography’ had an already well-established sense of moral judgment coupled with contempt (Whitney & Smith, 1903, p. 5161)"[1]

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

"A HISTORY OF “PORNOGRAPHY” (the word)"[2] is an essay on the word pornography by PanopticonsRus, first published on 29 June, 2015.

This extensively researched article confirms that the word πορνογράφον (“pornographers”) is a hapax legomenon in Ancient Greek:

"Conventionally, the word πορνογράφον (“pornographers”) dates to circa the late-second century of the common era in book 13 of Athenæus’ festive Deipnosophistae, a text brimming with descriptions of Mediterranean life dedicated very often to food (Perseus Digital Library, 2014 [1854]), which in book 13 means also women for sale. The word appears nowhere else if we would trust one of the most, if not the most, extensive online collection of classical texts available, the Perseus Digital Library (2014 [1854]), which itself has the authority of a “truth of the period” in Leps’ (1992) sense; Herz (2005) and McClure (2003) also confirm the origin of the word in nowhere but Athenæus."


  • Herz, M. (2005). PornoGRAPHIE: Eine Geschichte. Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, München.[3]
    • "Die ubiquitär aufgestellte Behauptung, dass das Wort „Pornographie“ aus dem Altgriechischen käme, ist schlichtweg falsch, wovon man sich durch einen einzigen Blick ins Wörterbuch überzeugen kann."
  • McClure, L. (2003). Courtesans at Table: Gender and Greek Literary Culture in Athenaeus. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • Leps, M.-C. (1992). Apprehending the criminal: The production of deviance in nineteenth-century discourse: Duke University Press.

See also

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