IN A FIRST, EXPERTS CLAIM TO HAVE FOUND
AN ACTUAL TEMPLE TO PRIAPUS
IN what is being hailed as an unprecedented find, archaeologists in Bulgaria say they have found a temple to the god Priapus.
While ancient texts spoke of the existence of Priapus temples, no temple ruins had ever been found anywhere ... until now.
The head of Bulgaria's National History Museum announced that an ancient temple to Priapus has been found in the Black Sea town of Sozopol.
National History Museum chief Bozhidar Dimitrov, who hails from Sozopol, said that archaeologists had found a clay phallus inscribed "to Priapus" during a dig in the Black Sea town, which in the past 24 months has boasted everything from the finding of the purported hand bones of Christian saint John the Baptist to a temple to NEPTUNE/POSEIDON.
Dimitrov reminded local media of the legend of Priapus and a donkey having disputed who was the better-endowed, with the donkey losing the dispute and its life into the bargain, ending as a sacrifice to the god.
The cult of Priapus, Dimitrov said, was believed to have originated along the coast of Asia Minor. In Hellenistic and Roman times, Priapus became associated with sensual pleasure.
However, he played a more important role in his original homeland of Asia Minor ... also the birth land of Antinous ... where he was seen as a guardian deity.
In Asia Minor was regarded as the patron god of sailors and fishermen and others in need of good luck, and his presence was believed to avert the evil eye.
Thus Priapus was depicted on countless thousands of amulets, talismans and wall murals as in this painting from Pompeii's House of the Vettii (above). Notice that he is wearing a Phrygian cap denoting his origins in Asia Minor.
Votives were made to Priapus, he said, from men who had genital diseases or otherwise had problems with erectile dysfunction or potency.
Priapus and his place in popular legend has been enhanced by mentions in the Satyricon by Petronius, in the works of Ovid, and in Chaucer.
Priapus, interestingly, also had a less obviously sexually prominent place in the figurines used as penile directional pointers in artefacts used in ancient Greece and Rome as navigational aids, befitting his role as patron deity of sailors ... a role later attributed to the Christian saint Nicholas, a legendary folk saint (never canonized by the church) whose cult also started in Asia Minor.