manboobs: dog-men with their heads in their breasts

Who are these men called manboobsHerodotus, a highly learned man writing in Greek about 2450 years ago, described fabulous creatures in Libya:

In that country are the huge snakes and the lions, and the elephants and bears and asps, the horned asses, the dog-headed and the headless men that have their eyes in their chests, as the Libyans say, and the wild men and women, besides many other creatures not fabulous. [1]

Perhaps a few hundred years later, the Greek Alexander Romance described some unusual men across the Red Sea:

We saw dog-headed men, and men without heads who had their eyes and mouths in their chests [2]

Dog-headed men were associated with the savage peoples of Gog and Magog.  Savage people are naturally associated with animals.  But a man with his head in his chest requires a more complicated explanation.  According to Adam of Bremen, a German medieval chronicler writing in the second half of the eleventh century, sons of Amazons had heads in their breasts and acted like dogs:

round about the shore of the Baltic Sea, it is said, live the Amazons in what is now called the land of women. … And when these women come to give birth, if the offspring be of the male sex, they become dog-heads; if of the feminine kind, they become most beautiful women.  Living by themselves, the latter spurn consort with men and, if men do come near, even drive them manfully away.  The dog-heads are men who have their heads on their breasts.  They are often seen in Russia as captives and they voice their words in barks. [3]

Adam of Breman seems to have conflated earlier reports of dog-headed men and headless men with facial features in their chests.  He apparently associated Amazons’ hostility toward men with the generation of deformed, inferior men.

Today, female supremacists claim that men are dogs.  Captive men, barking incessantly from heads in their breasts, are prevalent today throughout the public sphere.  These men are sometimes called “manboobs.”  If the wisdom of history is to be believed, these are men without fathers, the sons of Amazons.

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[1] Herodotus, Histories, 4.191.4. According to Phlegon of Tralles’ book On Marvels:

The doctor Dorotheus says in his Reminiscences that in Egyptian Alexandria a male homosexual gave birth, and that because of the marvel the newborn infant was embalmed and is still preserved.

From Greek trans. Hansen (1998) p. 257. That’s probably not how most manboobs came into being.

[2] Greek Alexander Romance, III.28, trans. Stoneman, Richard (1991) The Greek Alexander romance (London, England: Penguin Books) p. 146.

[3] Adam of Bremen, xix.19, trans.  Tschan, Francis Joseph (1959) History of the archbishops of Hamburg-Bremen. (New York: Columbia University Press) p. 200.  A man with his head in his breast could mean a man with his head drooping so low that it appeared to be in his breast.  That could be a physiologically weak-necked man.  Alternatively, a man regularly beaten and fearful might hang his head low.  Such a head position indicates submissiveness across a variety of animals.


Hansen, William F., ed. 1998. Anthology of ancient Greek popular literature. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

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