Friday, July 10, 2020


On Guard Duty

E. Courtney, Musa Lapidaria: A Selection of Latin Verse Inscriptions (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1995), pp. 146-147, 355:
Custos sepulcri pene destricto deus
Priapus ego sum. mortis et uitae locus.

I am the god Priapus, guarding the tomb with my penis unsheathed. The place of life and death.

CLE 193 = CIL 6.3708, 5173, 30092 = ILS 3585

From a first-century columbarium; Priapus guards a tomb placed in a garden or vineyard, cf. CIL 5.3634 Dis Manib(us) C H C locus adsignatus monumento in quo est aedicla Priapi and H. Herter, De Priapo (1932), 229 = his summary in the RE article Priapos 1929. Such a setting justifies uitae locus, because it is protected by the generative phallos (RE s.v. 1728; this passage 1732.9) of Priapus. The metre is iambic trimeter. With destricto the phallus is compared to a weapon (often called telum etc.); cf. uses of stringo in OLD s.v. 4.
On the phallus as a weapon see also J.N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (London: Duckworth, 1982), pp. 19-22.

Statue of Priapus, in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts (accession number RES.08.34a):

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