Friday, May 22, 2020


Personal Protective Equipment

Wilhelmina F. Jashemski, "The Excavation of a Shop-House Garden at Pompeii (I.xx.5)," American Journal of Archaeology 81.2 (Spring, 1977) 217-227 (at 220-221):
Amulets in the shape of parts of the body (hand, phallus, vulva) were believed to have apotropaic efficacy.10 The use of the phallus as an amulet to protect against witchcraft was so common that the name fascinum, which means "a bewitching, or witchcraft" came to be applied to the membrum virile.11 The phallus even became deified as the god Fascinus. Babies were put under the protection of Fascinus12 (i.e., they wore an amulet in the shape of a phallus or fascinum); generals also were protected by this deity, for the image of a phallus was hung under the chariot of a general at his triumph to protect him from jealousy.13 The walls of towns, all kinds of public and private property, open and public squares, and tombs were protected in this way.14 A large number of amulets have been found at Pompeii "generally accompanied by phallic tokens of bronze, glass, lapis lazuli, and amber."15 The phallic symbol above the ovens in Pompeian bakeries perhaps had the same function. Best known is the one found in the bakery located at the corner of the House of Pansa at The rectangular niche in the curve above the oven once held a phallus of red travertine that had been painted red,16 accompanied by the legend hic habitat felicitas.17 The baker Sextus Patulcus Felix at Herculaneum took greater precautions. Over his oven door there were two phalli to protect his baking; two more were found in the dough-room.18 The front of the dye-furnace at the entrance of IX.vii.2 on the Via dell'Abbondanza is decorated with a winged phallus. There is a much larger phallus (48 cm. long) on the west side of the furnace. Various phalli are found on exterior walls at Pompeii,19 but the one at the street corner on the shop-house garden wall is unlike any found thus far.

10 OCD s.v. "Amulets"; Daremberg-Saglio, s.v. "Fascinum"; and RE, s.v. "Fascinum."

11 See Porphyrion on Hor. Epod. 8.18: aeque [fascinum] pro virili parte posuit, quoniam praefascinandis rebus haec membri deformitas adponi solet.

12 Plin. HN 28.39.

13 Supra n. 12.

14 Otto Jahn, "Über den Aberglauben des bösen Blicks bei den Alten," Berichte über die Verhandlungen der Königlich-Sächsischen Gesellschaft der Philologisch-historischen Classe 7 (1885) 69-79. For apotropaic phalli on the city wall beside the gates at Alba Fucens see NSc 1950, 278, 284; G. Picard, The Ancient Civilization of Rome (Geneva 1969) 223 comments on the number of phalli to be seen on street corners "which were considered as particularly dangerous spots."

15 Pierre Gusman, Pompei: The City, Its Life and Art (London 1900) 127.

16 Giuseppe Fiorelli, Pompei (Naples 1875) 105.

17 CIL 4.1454.

18 A. Maiuri, Ercolano: I nuovi scavi 1927-1958 (Rome 1958) 458.

19 A phallus above the entrance door served to identify a cella meretricia.

20 There is a small walking phallus at the street corner at III. iv. 3; a larger phallus marks the street corner at IX.v.1.
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum IV.1454:

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?