Sacred Texts  Sacred Sexuality  Classics  Index  Previous  Next 


Plate XXI.


p. 45

Three Bronze Figures.

Of the original size.


SEVERAL phalluses are suspended to a necklace round the neck of the first figure--a charming little bust of a woman. We have already said that among the Egyptians, and in Greece and Italy, the gravest matrons did not blush to wear these amulets in public. It was especially for barren women, and for those who generally brought forth children with difficulty and miscarriage, that these charms were reserved; but some only saw in these trinkets a kind of votive offering displaying the image of Priapus as many times as the god had satisfied their desires. "The unwearied Messalina lay with many men in one night. From none did she require any reward that he did not bring of his own free will. When day returned, the conqueress dedicated four-and-twenty wreaths of rose and myrtle to Priapus, Marsyas, and other mirthful deities: each being a thank-offering for a victory." 1

Were it not for the undeniable monuments that antiquity has bequeathed to us, we should be led to believe that civilized nations have at all times had the same ideas as ourselves about decency, so natural does it appear not to

p. 46

separate mystery from the pleasures of the senses--unless we would become like the beasts! It was not so, however; and the countries that gave birth to Socrates, Plato, Lycurgus, Cicero, and Antoninus were sullied by the most dissolute manners and the most disgusting orgies. Some centuries have elapsed since a religion of purity and chastity struck its powerful roots into the soil of old Europe, and yet some traces are still to be found there of the infamous worship of the god Phallus. Even in France, a country which for a long time past has marched in the van of civilization, later centuries have witnessed public processions in which, out of devotion, men who called themselves flagellants appeared entirely naked!

No. 2 represents a satyr, perhaps the god Pan, whose head is surmounted by an enormous pair of horns. A long beard flows over his chest. In one hand he holds an amphora, full, doubtless, of wine:

"For Venus would freeze if unaided by Bacchus and Ceres."

With the other he holds by its wings a bird, which Sylvain Maréchal, and the academicians of Naples before him, have declared to be a cock, but which nowise resembles that animal. Its size would lead us to take it for a pigeon or a turtle, and its shape for a sparrow. All these birds, whose loves are renewed several times in the year, are very lascivious: they were therefore consecrated to Venus.

It is to be presumed that this little figure was one of the household gods of a Roman dwelling: his large horns and immoderate phallus served to keep off sorceries. Let us remark in passing that, whatever may have been said on the subject, the custom of insulting husbands deceived by their wives by imagining them to have horns is merely derived from that very ancient, but yet very false opinion, that of the two men he is the happier whose wife is unfaithful; for the need she experiences, at every moment of the day, to lull to sleep the suspicions of him whom she is outraging, induces her incessantly to feign sweetness, resignation-all the virtues, in short, which she

p. 47

no longer possesses; besides that, her libertinism is sometimes only the result of ambition, and thus procures in the family an case and affluence which, without her, it would never know. Whilst the husband whose wife is virtuous must, they say, pay with usury for the sacrifices his companion imposes on herself through love of honesty. He is indeed to be pitied, whilst the former is as happy as if he wore horns; for horns, like phalluses, have the property of keeping off witchcraft and incantations, and incessantly bringing down joy, riches, and tranquillity. We have said, in the introduction to this work, that the superstition relative to horns still exists in all its vigour in the south of Italy, in Spain, and in the Levant.

It forms no part of our plan to demonstrate how absurd and immoral is the opinion which makes a deceived husband a happy man, and a respected husband an unfortunate being. Greatly to be pitied are those whose own hearts will not suggest to them all that we omit here! Truly those are to be pitied who cannot appreciate all the respect and consolation that there is in the pride of a woman who has nothing to reproach herself with, who can carry her head high everywhere; who, in fine, is not afraid, when necessary, to interpose between a guilty son and an angry husband, because she knows that son is no stranger in the family, and that he has a right to the paternal condescension!

The third figure is that of a bald old man lying on the ground. He is entirely naked, his right hand rests on a large erect phallus, and his left arm is passed under his head. As there existed in Kircher's museum a statue of the Indian Buddha, very nearly similar to this figure, with the Latin inscription, "DIVO MERCURIO" (to the god Mercury), certain Neapolitan antiquaries have believed that this also was the Indian Buddha, the ninth incarnation of Vishnu, the Greek Mercury, the Thoth of the Egyptians, &c., and what gives some weight to this opinion is that this piece comes from Egypt.


45:1 Joannes Meursius.

Next: Plate XXII: A Votive Phallus