Introduction The epic poems of Homer and Vergil provide many detailed descriptions of wounds and death blows, particularly in combat scenes. Various characters are struck by swords, spears, arrows, and even boulders in nearly every imaginable body part, many of them astoundingly specific: belly, liver, back, buttock, chest, nipples, shoulder, neck, jaw, eyes, ears, and so on. Yet despite a high incidence of such varied and gruesomely detailed injuries, wounds specifically to the thigh occur only rarely in epic and are inflicted almost solely upon major characters, including Menelaus, Sarpedon, Mezentius, Turnus, and Aeneas. This is particularly surprising given the vulnerability of the thigh, the only crucial area of the body other than the neck commonly left exposed by ancient armor. Their scarcity notwithstanding, thigh wounds have been noted as “traditional in epic” (Harrison 1997: 162), though this tradition has received little attention in classical scholarship.1 Thigh wounds in classical literature, however, especially in early epic, exemplify how a cultural reality-a significant war injury-can become a literary metaphor for impotence or castration. When employed in this way, such wounds comprise a folkloric motif known as the “mutilated hero.”2