Fascinus was a phallic god who protected from invidia (envy) and the evil eye in the Roman tradition.
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The fascinus or fascinum represented the divine phallus in ancient Roman religion and sorcery. The term can be used to describe phallus amulets, effigies, and rituals that summon his heavenly protection. Invidia is the Latin word for “looking at,” hence Pliny refers to it as a medicus invidiae, a “doctor” or cure for envy or the evil eye. The fascinus populi Romani, a holy representation of the phallus that served as one of the symbols of the state’s security, was the focus of the Vestal Virgins’ religion (sacra Romana). As a result, it was connected to the Palladium. Roman mythology, such as the story of Servius Tullius’ conception, imply that this phallus represented a holy masculine reproductive force housed within the hearth.
Roman culture was rife with phallic charms, which were frequently winged and manifested as jewelry such as pendants and finger rings, relief sculptures, lamps, and wind chimes (tintinnabula). Fascinus was believed to be especially effective in warding off evil from kids, especially boys, and from conquering generals. Although the virile and regenerative abilities of an erect phallus are typically associated with the protective role of the phallus, in most cases the emotion, humiliation, or laughter produced by obscenity is the force that deflects the evil eye.
Featured image: Fascinus from Pompeii showing a phallus
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