It’s the most wonderful time of the year Richard Armitage…


No, no, no…not THAT  “wonderful time.”  It’s the wonderful time of the year when my Topics in Ancient History class gives their presentations on Pompeii and Herculaneum.  As always, the first topics snatched up were those relating to sexuality, brothels and prostitution.  I am currently on a countdown to when the famous Priapus fresco from Pompeii will make an appearance.   For those who have not met him, Priapus was a Roman deity associated with the harvest and fertility whose most marked attribute was his ithyphallic appearance.   The anticipation of running into Priapus and the subsequent student reaction to him is killing me! (my classroom pleasures on this level are few and far between…don’t judge me 😉  )

What makes it even better this term is that thanks to my RL Facebook feed, I can see that Priapus fresco and raise with this little gem…

Priapus de Rivery

Priapus de Rivery – Musee de Picardie, Amiens

This bronze piece, dating to first half of the first century CE,  was found in Rivery France in 1771, and is said to be the earliest known piece of Gallo-Roman art in the Musee de Picardie collection.  Pretty big statistics for such a little guy.  I’ve blown him up here to show his details.  (although I can’t find his actual dimensions, looking at images of him in situ in the museum case, I’d say he’s about 8-10″ (20-25cm) in height.)   Here Priapus is depicted wrapped up in a cucullus…a cloak with a hood of a variety that is apparently typical of Gaul (modern France).  I love the beautiful bits of patina on the piece and especially the detailed treatment of his feet and footwear.  (I have a thing for tiny bronze toes).  But speaking of his details, one seems to be noticeably absent doesn’t it?   A certain ithyphallic element seems to be missing.  Or is it…

priapus 2

Au contraire!  This Priapus doesn’t have a phallus…he IS a phallus.  Always models of efficiency, this Roman sculptor made a kind of two-in-one piece!  I know that I should look at this with the appropriate level of scholarly seriousness, but honestly…this amazing running phallus immediately calls to mind a fine summer tradition in Wisconsin –

The Klement's Sausage Races at Milwaukee's Miller Park

The Klement’s Sausage Races at Milwaukee’s Miller Park

*wiping tears of hilarity*  Ahem, yes.  Sorry.  Scholarly seeking of Richard Armitage in the Classical Tradition…right.   Thanks to today’s image from Pilgrimage, I have fresh material to work with…

priapus compare

The intense gaze, the Gallic garments, the “pointy” imagery of the heads…the mind does wander as to what’s under that hauberk.

All in a day’s work people, all in a day’s work   🙂