The Greeks also made the phallic culture their own and gave the virile procreating organ its autonomy. The phallus is freed from the human body to become the sacred object itself. During the "phallories", it is exhibited in processions.
After Osiris, the phallus is associated to Dionysus, deity of immoderation, excess and virile strength, and later on to Bacchus. The walls of Greek and Roman houses are covered with them to bring protection and fertility upon the homes. From the infinitely grand to the infinitely small, the phallus is erected in monumental Herms or wrapped around children's necks. These ithyphallic (representing an erect penis) lucky charms, serve as prophylactic amulets.
One cannot forget the worship of Priapus where Romans offered their young brides 'virginity to the voracious deity.
Sporadic during the Christian era, phallic representations reappear during the Middle Ages, making a foray into Roman church's modillions and column heads.
During the 7th century in Provence, the phallus of saint Fourtin de Varailles, considered as the relic of the martyred bishop, is piously stroked by the believers to bring fertility and protection.
During the Renaissance, the phallus is freed from is status of divine object and becomes a curiosity – or even the object of all curiosity...
Might it be in alabaster, coral, rock crystal, pietra dura, or semi-precious stones, might it be decorated with gold, enamel, gems, or cameos; the phallus is avidly and passionately collected. It becomes the subject of a new, more confidential devotion, one of connoisseurs of its kunstkammer.
At the turn of the 20th century, with the birth of psychoanalysis, the phallus wins new territory in the field of Human science. From erotic subjects, to Picasso's animal strength and surrealist esoteric fantasies, from Dada delirium to Mapplethorpe's black and white icons, the phallus intrigues, scares and attracts. Beyond the centuries, the subjects, the beliefs, it is an unstoppable source of inspiration.
"Phalanx of angels, in place of the angelus choose phalluses."
(Robert Desnos, Rrose Sélavy, 1922)
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