Roman, Imperial, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. An excellent leaded bronze figure of the Greco-Roman god Priapus - god of fertility and protector of vegetation, livestock, and male genitals - cast using the lost wax (cire perdue) method. Standing nude save a pair of sandals and a modius (a symbol of fecundity) atop his head, the humorous deity displays a bearded visage with almond-shaped eyes, a prominent broad nose, and pursed lips. His tubular arms and large, permanently erect phallus extend forth from his slender body, holding a tray of offerings at his waist. Size: 1.2" W x 2.8" H (3 cm x 7.1 cm); 3.3" H (8.4 cm) on included custom stand.
Serving as the inspiration for the modern-day garden gnome, statues of Priapus in a pointed hat were commonly placed in the gardens of ancient Greece and Rome, where he served as a guardian of the home and a threat to potential thieves. Furthermore, due to high acclaim throughout the Roman Empire, he inspired "Priapeia" - a collection of 80 (some editions featuring 95) anonymous, obscene Latin poems pertaining to Priapus, thought to date to the 1st century CE or the early 2nd century CE. Priapus' permanent erection gave rise to the medical term priapism.
Provenance: ex-Estate of Eldert Bontekoe, Pegasi Numismatics, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA, acquired before 2000
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Minor pitting to some surfaces, with light softening to finer details on tray and face, otherwise intact and very good. Wonderful patina throughout.