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Roman Bronze Statuette Of The Fertility God Priapus
A small Ancient Roman bronze statuette of the fertility god Priapus.
Priapus promises the fertility of gardens and the safety of seafarers. Roman in origin
Priapos was depicted as a dwarfish man with a huge member, symbolising garden fertility, a peaked Phrygian cap, indicating his origin as a Mysian god, and a basket weighed down with fruit.
His cult was introduced to Greece from Lampsakos (Lampsacus) in Asia Minor and his mythology subsequently reinterpreted. Primitive statues of the god were set-up in vegetable gardens to promote fertility. These also doubled as scarecrows, keeping the birds away.
Priapos was identified with a number of phallic Greek deities including Dionysos, Hermes and the satyrs Orthanes and Tykhon (Tychon).
In a well-known Pompeiian wall fresco (right or above) the god is shown weighing his phallus against the produce of the garden. He is crowned with a peaked Phrygian cap, wears Phrygian boots, and has a Bacchic, cone-tipped thyrsus resting by his side.