Classical Antiquities :
Roman Art : Stone colossal phallus
Stone colossal phallus - PH.0145
Location: Great Britain
| Photo Gallery
Representations of the phallus abound in both
the art and the literature of the Roman world.
On frescoes, in both private homes and public
buildings, on amulets, statues, etchings,
tripods, drinking cups and vases, exaggerated
phallic images, these purportedly apotropaic
symbols protect the inhabitant, the passerby,
the wearer, the user from the outside evil.
The contemporary Latin literature, Roman
satire and elegy in particular (Catullus, Martial,
Juvenal, Horace, Tibullus), and the Priapea, a
collection of poems about the phallic god
Priapus, offer descriptions of the phallus and
Many scholars have examined Roman phallic
imagery in terms of eroticism, pornography
and sexual orientation, considering the
apotropaic uses of the phallus as a secondary
component of a broader study of Roman
sexuality. But artistic examples of a phallus
endowed with magical, protective properties
must be looked at separately from other uses
of phallic representation in pornographic and
erotic studies of sexuality.
In ancient Roman religion and magic, the
fascinus or fascinum was the embodiment of
the divine phallus. The word can refer to the
deity himself (Fascinus), to phallus effigies and
amulets, and to the spells used to invoke the
deity's divine protection.
Pliny calls it "medicus invidiae", a remedy for
envy or the evil eye.
The English word "fascinate" ultimately
derives from Latin fascinum and the related
verb fascinare, "to use the power of the
fascinus," that is, "to practice magic" and
hence "to enchant, bewitch."