Historical Reprints History History of Circumcision

History of Circumcision

History of Circumcision
Catalog # SKU1713
Publisher TGS Publishing
Weight 1.00 lbs
Author Name P. C. Remondino


History of Circumcision

From The Earliest Times
To The Present

Moral and Physical Reasons for its Performance,
with a History Of Eunuchism, Hermaphrodism, Etc.,
And Of The Different Operations Practiced Upon The Prepuce.

P. C. Remondino, M.D.

Whether or not you agree with the Doctor's conclusions about circumcision, this has to be the most exhaustive history reference ever written on this unusual subject.

In ancient Egypt the performance of circumcision was at one time limited to the priesthood, who, in addition to the cleanliness that this operation imparted to that class, added the shaving of the whole body as a means of further purification. The nobility, royalty, and the higher warrior class seem to have adopted circumcision as well, either as a hygienic precaution or as an aristocratic prerogative and insignia.

Among the Greeks we find a like practice, and we are told that in the times of Pythagoras the Greek philosophers were also circumcised, although we find no mention that the operation went beyond the intellectual class. In the United States, France, and in England, there is a class which also observe circumcision as a hygienic precaution, where, from my personal observation, I have found that circumcision is thoroughly practiced in every male member of many of the families of the class,-this being the physician class.

In general conversation with physicians on this subject, it has really been surprising to see the large number who have had themselves circumcised, either through the advice of some college professor while attending lectures or as a result of their own subsequent convictions when engaged in actual practice and daily coming in contact both with the benefits that are to be derived in the way of a better physical, mental, and moral health, as well as with the many dangers and disadvantages that follow the uncircumcised,-the latter being probably the most frequent incentive and determinator,-as in many of these latter examples the operation of circumcision, with its pains, annoyances, and possible and probable dangers, sink into the most trifling insignificance in comparison to some of the results that are daily observed as the tribute that is paid by the unlucky and unhappy wearer of a prepuce for the privilege of possessing such an appendage. There is one thing that must be admitted concerning circumcision: this being that, among medical men or men of ordinary intelligence who have had the operation performed, instead of being dissatisfied, they have extended the advantages they have themselves received, by having those in their charge likewise operated upon. The practice is now much more prevalent than is supposed, as there are many Christian families where males are regularly circumcised soon after birth, who simply do so as a hygienic measure.

For the benefit of these, who may congratulate themselves upon the dangers and annoyances that they and their families have escaped, and for the benefit of those who would run into these dangers but for timely warning, this book has been especially written. To my professional brothers the book will prove a source of instruction and recreation, for, while it contains a lot of pathology regarding the moral and physical reasons why circumcision should be performed, which might be as undigestible as a mess of Boston brown bread and beans on a French stomach, I have endeavored to make that part of the book readable and interesting.

The operative chapter will be particularly useful and interesting to physicians, as I have there given a careful and impartial review of all the operative procedures,-from the most simple to the most elaborate,-besides paying more than particular attention to the subject of after-dressings. The part that relates to the natural history of man will interest all manner of people. I regret that the tabular statistics are not to be had, but in this regard we must use our best judgment from the material we have on hand; at any rate, I have tried to furnish a sufficiency of facts, so that, unless the reader is too overexacting, he will not find much difficulty in arriving at a conclusion on the subject.


If the ceremonials of the Catholic Church or the High Church Episcopalians carry us back into the depths of antiquity, or, as remarked by Frothingham, that the ceremonies of St. Peter, at Rome, carried him back to the mysteries of Eulesis, to the sacrificial rites of ancient Phoenicia, to what misty antiquity does not the contemplation of the rite of circumcision take us? The Alexandrian library, with its vast collection of precious records, could probably have furnished us some information as to its origin and antiquity; but Moslem fanaticism, with its belief in the all-sufficiency and infallibility of the Koran, was the destruction of that wonderful repository. We must now depend wholly on the relation of the Old Testament or on what has since been written by the Greek and Italian historians as to its origin and practices.

The Egyptian monuments and their hyeroglyphics give us no information on the subject further back than the reign of Rameses II; while the oft-quoted Herodotus wrote some fourteen centuries after the Old Testament relation, and Strabo and Diodorus some nineteen centuries after the same chronicler. We have, therefore, in their chronological order, first, the relation of the Bible; then the Egyptian monuments and their revelations; and, thirdly, the information gathered by Pythagoras, Herodotus, and other philosophers and historians. To these three sources we may add the misty mixture of tradition and mythological events, whose beginnings as to period of time are indefinite. These are the sources from which we are to determine the origin and antiquity as well as the character of the rite.

Voltaire found in the subject of circumcision one that he could not satisfactorily make enter into his peculiar system of general philosophy. For some reason, he did not wish that the Israelites should have the credit of its introduction; were he to have admitted that, he would have had to explain away the divine origin of the rite,-something that the Hebrew has tenaciously held for over thirty-seven centuries. Voltaire thought it would simplify the subject by making it originate with the Egyptians, from whom the Hebrews were to borrow it. To do this he adopted the relation of Herodotus on the subject. His treatment of the Jewish race, however, brought out a strong antagonism from those people to his attacks, and in a volume entitled, "Letters of Certain Jews to Monsieur Voltaire,"-being a series of criticisms on his aspersions on the race and on the writings of the Old Testament (written by a number of Portuguese, German, and Polish Jews then residing in Holland[1]),-they proved conclusively that the Phoenicians had borrowed the rite from the Israelites, as they (the Phoenicians) had practiced the rite on the newborn, whereas, had they followed the Egyptian rite, they would have only circumcised the child after its having passed its thirteenth year,-these being the distinctive differences between the Jewish and Egyptian rites.

Luckily, in the small temple of Khons, which formed an annex to the greater temple of Maut, at Karnac, there was found a bas-relief, partly perfect, which goes far toward giving light on the subject of Egyptian circumcision. The upper part of the sculpture was so defaced that the upper portions of four of the five figures were destroyed, but the lower portions were so perfect in every detail as to furnish a full history of the age of the candidates for the rite and the manner of its performance. It is further interesting from the fact that it establishes also the time during which the rite was so performed. M. Chabas and Dr. Ebers argue, from the founder of the temple having been Rameses II, that the sculpture refers to the circumcision of two of his children.

The knife appears to be a stone implement, and the operator kneels in front of the child, who is standing, while a matron supports him in a kneeling posture, and she holds his hands from behind him.[2] In this bas-relief we can see the great difference that existed between the two forms of the operation, that of the Hebrews being performed, as a rule, on the eighth day after birth, while in the bas-relief they are ten or twelve years old.

Although tradition and mythology veil past events in more or less obscurity, they do, in regard to circumcision, furnish considerable explanatory light on matters which would be otherwise hard to reconcile. Circumcision has been performed by the Chippeways, on the Upper Mississippi, and its modifications were performed among the Mexicans, Central Americans, and some South American tribes of Indians, as well as among many of the natives dwelling among the islands of the Pacific Archipelago.

There is a tradition, mentioned by Donnelly in connection with the sunken continent of Atlantis, that Ouranos, one of the Atlantean kings, ordered his whole army to be circumcised that they might escape a fatal scourge then decimating the people to their westward.[3] This tradition tells us that the hygienic benefits of circumcision were recognized antediluvian facts, as it also points out the way by which circumcision traveled westward across to the Western World. As Donnelly has pointed out, many of the Americans possessed not only traditions, habits, and customs that must have come from the Old World, but the similarity of many words and their meaning that exists between some of the American languages and those of the indigenous inhabitants that have still their remains in spots on the southwestern shores of Europe-the ancient Armorica whose colony in Wales still retains its ancient words-leaves no room for doubt that at one time a landed highway existed between the two worlds.

The Mandans, on the Upper Missouri, have many words of undoubted Armorican origin in their vocabulary,[4] just as the Chiapenec, of Central America, contains its principal words denotive of deity, family relations, and many conditions of life that are identically the same as in the Hebrew,[5] the name of father, son, daughter, God, king, and rich being essentially the same in the two languages. It must have been more than a passing coincidence that gives the Mandans some of their most expressive words from the Welsh, or that gave to Central America many cities bearing analogous names with the cities of Armenia.[6] Canadian names of localities, as well as those of the Mississippi Valley, denote the French origin of their pioneers, as well as the names of Upper California denote the nationality and creed of its first settlers. So that there is nothing strange in asserting that American civilization and many of the customs as found in the fifteenth century by the early Spanish discoverers were nothing more than the remains of ancient and modified Phoenician civilization, among which figured circumcision.




CHAPTER I. Antiquity of Circumcision,

CHAPTER II. Theories as to the Origin of Circumcision,

CHAPTER III. Spread of Circumcision,

CHAPTER IV. Circumcision Among Savage Tribes,

CHAPTER V. Infibulation, Muzzling, and Other Curious Practices,

CHAPTER VI. Attempts To Abolish Circumcision,

CHAPTER VII. Miracles and the Holy Prepuce,

CHAPTER VIII. History of Emasculation, Castration, and Eunuchism,

CHAPTER IX. Philosophical Considerations Relating to Eunuchism and Medicine,

CHAPTER X. Hermaphrodism and Hypospadias,

CHAPTER XI. Religio Medici,

CHAPTER XII. Hebraic Circumcision,

CHAPTER XIII. Mezizah, the Fourth or Objectionable Act of Suction,

CHAPTER XIV. What are the Benefits of Circumcision?

CHAPTER XV. Predisposition to and Exemption and Immunity from Disease,

CHAPTER XVI. The Prepuce, Syphilis, and Phthisis,

CHAPTER XVII. Some Reasons for Being Circumcised,

CHAPTER XVIII. The Prepuce as an Outlaw, and its Effects on the Glans,

CHAPTER XIX. Is the Prepuce a Natural Physiological Appendage?

CHAPTER XX. The Prepuce, Phimosis, and Cancer,

CHAPTER XXI. The Prepuce and Gangrene of the Penis,

CHAPTER XXII. The Prepuce, Calculi, and other Annoyances,

CHAPTER XXIII. Reflex Neuroses and the Prepuce,

CHAPTER XXIV. Dysuria, Enuresis, and Retention of Urine,

CHAPTER XXV. General Systemic Diseases Induced by the Prepuce,

CHAPTER XXVI. Surgical Operations Performed on the Prepuce,

Softcover, 6¾" x 8¼", 370+ pages

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