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The Interpretation of a Votive Offering[1]

Cur pictum memori sit in tabella
membrum, quaeritis, unde procreamur?
cum penis mihi forte laesus esset
chirurgamque manum miser timerem,
dis me legitimis nimisque magnis,
ut Phoebo puta filioque Phoebi,
curatum dare mentulam verebar.
huic dixi: 'fer opem, Priape, parti,
cuius tu, pater, ipse pars videris,
qua salva sine sectione facta
ponetur tibi picta, quam levaris,
compar consimilisque concolorque'.
promisit fore mentulamque movit
pro nutu deus et rogata fecit.

Why on memorial tablet do they limn
(You ask) the member which begets us all?
Whenas by accident my yard was hurt
And I (unhappy!) feared the surgeon's hand
To such legitimate almighty gods--
Phoebus for instance take or Phoebus' son--
I blushed to offer for a cure my cock
And prayed--'Priapus, an thou heal the part,
O Sire, whose very counterpart thou seem'st
And without hacking make it whole again,
One linmed on tablet shall to thee be given
Like-sized, like-coloured and alike of shape.'
The God to promise deigning wagged his yard,
By way of nod divine, and did my bede.

You ask why the instrument of procreation has been painted on the memorable tablet. When by accident I had bruised my penis, and wretched with suffering, dreaded the hand of the surgeon (moreover I was afraid to give the cure of my mentule to the legitimate and almighty gods, such as Phoebus, for instance, and Phoebus's son),[2] 'Help, O Priapus,' quoth I, 'help thou the part whose very counterpart, O Sire, thou seemest; and if thou shalt restore it safely to health without amputation,[3] I will consecrate to thee, painted on a tablet, a very facsimile of it, alike in size, shape and colour! 'The God promised; for nod bobbed his mentule;[4] and has granted my prayer.

[1. Pacificus Maximus addresses a similar entreaty to Priapus, when suffering from the pox, offering, if cured, to dedicate to the god a waxen column equal in size to that of the sufferer. Cures were sought to such morbi venerii as inflamatio coleomm (swollen testicles), tubercula circa glandem (warts on the glans penis), cancri carbunculi (chancre or shanker) and a few others.

2. Phoebus was the god of the healing art. Aesculapius was his son.

3. Reminding one of Don Juan's healthy horror when they proposed to circumcise him.

4. Parodying the majestic nod of Jupiter when grating a request.]

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