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Plate XXII.


p. 48

A Votive Phallus.

Of the size of the original.


ONE of these symbolical figures to which the ancients ascribed the property of keeping off evil is shown here. They suspended them at the, entrance of shops, under the peristyles of houses, in bedrooms, or in the venereum. Sometimes these bronzes were used as lamps.

A gladiator covered with complete armour, his right hand grasping curved sword, appears to be endeavouring to entrap his enemy in a net which envelops his left hand; this was the manner of fighting with he gladiators called retiarii. His adversary is a furious animal, resembling a dog or a hyena, whose head serves as a crown to the enormous phallus of our gladiator. It is evidently an image of the combat which the strong and wise man wages with his warring senses.

To this figure are suspended five little bells. We have said in out Introduction that these instruments were considered as talismans against evil. But here they can only serve as a symbol of the triumph which the gladiator is about to obtain. We know indeed that the ancients, and especially the Romans, compelled the conquered and the slaves who followed the car of the conqueror to carry little bells, which the Latins called tintinnabula.

Next: Plate XXIII: Phallus-Hermes