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NOOK Book. See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Add to Wishlist. USD Buy Online, Pick up in Store is currently unavailable, but this item may be available for in-store purchase. Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Product Details. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. This is a reproduction of a book published before This book may have occasional The last figure on the same plate is also taken from the collection of M. From the monkish cowl and the cord round the body, we may perhaps take it for a satire upon the friars, some of whom wore no breeches, and they were all charged with being great corruptors of female morals.

In Italy we can trace the continuous use of these phallic amulets down to the present time much more distinctly than in our more Western countries. There they are still in very common use, and we give two examples of bronze amulets of this description, which are commonly sold in Naples at the present day for a carlo, equivalent to fourpence in English money, each. One of them, it will be seen, is encircled by a serpent. So important are these amulets considered for the personal safety of those who possess them, that there is hardly a peasant who is without one, which he usually carries in his waistcoat pocket.

The ancients had two forms of what antiquaries have named the phallic hand, one in which the middle finger was extended at length, and the thumb and other fingers doubled up, while in the other the whole hand was closed, but the thumb was passed between the first and middle fingers. The first of these forms appears to have been the more ancient, and is understood to have been intended to represent, by the extended middle finger, the membrum virile , and by the bent fingers on each side the testicles.

Hence the middle finger of the hand was called by the Romans, digitus impudicus , or infamis.

It was called by the Greeks katap? To show the hand in this form was expressed in Greek by the word pkjmalj'zejn, and was considered as a most contemptuous insult, because it was understood to intimate that the person to whom it was addressed was addicted to unnatural vice. This was the meaning also given to it by the Romans, as we learn from the first lines of an epigram o f Martial: Nevertheless, this gesture of the hand was looked upon at an early period as an amulet against magical influences, and, formed of different materials, it was carried on the person in the same manner as the phallus.

It is not an uncommon object among Roman antiquities, and was adopted by the Gnostics as one of their symbolical images. The second of these forms of the phallic hand, the intention of which is easily seen the thumb forming the phallus , was also well known among the Romans, and is found made of various material, such as bronze, coral, lapis lazuli, and chrystal, of a size which was evidently intended to be suspended to the neck or to some other part of the person.

In the Musee Secret at Naples, there are examples of such amulets, in the shape of two arms joined at the elbow, one terminating in the head of a phallus, the other having a hand arranged in the form just described, which seem to have been intended for pendents to ladies' ears. This gesture of the hand appears to have been called at a later period of Latin, though we have no knowledge of the date at which this use of the word began, ficus, a fig.

Ficus being a word in the feminine gender, appears to have fallen in the popular language into the more common form of feminine nouns, fica, out of which arose the Italian fica now replaced by fico , the Spanish higa , and the French figue. Florio, who gives the word fica , a fig, says that it was also used in the sense of "a woman's quaint," so that it may perhaps be classed with one or two other fruits, such as the pomegranate and the apricot, to which a similar erotic meaning was given.

The form, under this name, was preserved through the middle ages, especially in the South of Europe, where Roman traditions were strongest, both as an amulet and as an insulting gesture. The Italian called this gesture fare la fica , to make or do the fig to any one; the Spaniard, dar una higa , to give a fig; and the Frenchman, like the Italian, faire la figue. We can trace this phrase back to the thirteenth century at least. In the judicial proceedings against the Templars in Paris in , one of the brethren of the Order was asked, jokingly, in his examination, because he was rather loose and flippant in his replies, "if he bad been ordered by the said receptor the officer of the Templars who admitted the new candidate to make with his fingers the fig at the crucifix.

This phrase appears to have been introduced into the English language in the time of Elizabeth and to have been taken from the Spaniards, with whom our relations were then intimate. The phrase has been preserved in all these countries down to modern times and we still say in English, "a fig for anybody," or "for anything," not meaning that we estimate them at no more than the value of a fig, but that we throw at them that contempt which was intimated by showing them the phallic hand, and which the Greeks, as stated above, called s??

The form of showing contempt which was called the fig is still well known among the lower classes of society in England, and it is preserved in most of the countries of Western Europe. In Baretti's Spanish Dictionary, which belongs to the commencement of the present century, we find the word higa interpreted as "A manner of scoffing at people, which consists in showing the thumb between the first and second finger, closing the first, and pointing at the person to whom we want to give this hateful mark of contempt.

So profound is the belief of its efficacy in Italy, that it is commonly believed and reported there that, at the battle of Solferino, the king of Italy held his hand in his pocket with this arrangement of the fingers as a protection against the shots of the enemy.

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The Teutonic race believed in a spiritual being who inhabited the woods, and who was called in old German scrat. His character was more general than that of a mere habitant of the woods, for it answered to the English hobgoblin, or to the Irish cluricaune. The scrat was the spirit of the woods, under which character he was sometimes called a waltscrat , and of the fields, and also of the household, the domestic spirit, the ghost haunting the house.

His image was probably looked upon as an amulet, a protection to the house, as an old German vocabulary of the year , explains schrcetlin , little scrats, by the Latin word penates. The lascivious character of this spirit, if it wanted more direct evidence, is implied by the fact that fcritta , in Anglo-Saxon, and scrat , in old English, meant a hermaphrodite.

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Accordingly, the mediaeval vocabularies explain scrat by Latin equivalents, which all indicate companions or emanations of Priapus, and in fact, Priapus himself. Isidore gives the name of Pilost , or hairy men, and tells us that they were called in Greek, Panitae apparently an error for Ephialtae , and in Latin, Incubi and Inibi, the latter word derived from the verb inire, and applied to them on account of their intercourse with animals. They were in fact the fauns and satyrs of antiquity, haunted like them the wild woods, and were characterized by the same petulance towards the other sex.

Woe to the modesty of maiden or woman who ventured incautiously into their haunts. As Incubi, they visited the house by night, and violated the persons of the females, and some of the most celebrated heroes of early mediaeval romances, such as Merlin, were thus the children of incubi. They were known at an early period in Gaul by the name of Dusii, from which, as the church taught that all these mythic personages were devils, we derive our modern word Deuce , used in such phrases as "the Deuce take you!

Most of these Latin synonyms are given in the Anglo-Saxon vocabulary of Alfric, and are interpreted as meaning "evil men, spirits of the woods, evil beings. The next is a second illustration of the same ballad, in which Robin Goodfellow is represented as Priapus, goat-shaped, with his attributes still more strongly pronounced, and surrounded by a circle of his worshippers dancing about him. He appears here in the character assumed by the demon at the sabbath of the witches, of which we shall have to speak a little further on. The Romish Church created great confusion in all these popular superstitions by considering the mythic persons with whom they were connected as so many devils; and one of these Priapic demons is figured in a cut which seems to have been a favorite one, and is often repeated as an illustration of the broadside ballads of the age of James I.


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It is Priapus reduced to his lowest step of degradation. These festivities were especially celebrated among the rural population, and they were held chiefly during the summer months. The preparatory labours of the agriculturist were over, and people had leisure to welcome with joyfulness the activity of nature's reproductive powers, which was in due time to bring their fruits. Among the most celebrated of these festivals were the Liberalia, which were held on the 17th of March.

A monstrous phallus was carried in procession in a car, and its worshippers indulged loudly and openly in obscene songs, conversation, and attitudes, and when it halted, the most respectable of the matrons ceremoniously crowned the head of the phallus with a garland. The Bacchanalia, representing the Dionysia of the Greeks, were celebrated in the latter part of October, when the harvest was completed, and were attended with much the same ceremonies as the Liberalia.

The phallus was similarly carried in procession, and crowned, and, as in the Liberalia, the festivities being carried on into the night, as the celebrators became heated with wine, they degenerated into the extreme of licentiousness, in which people indulged without a blush in the most infamous vices. The festival of Venus was celebrated towards the beginning of April, and in it the phallus was again carried in its car, and led in procession by the Roman ladies to the temple of Venus outside the Colline gate, and there presented by them to the sexual parts of the goddess.


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This part of the scene is represented in a well-known intaglio, which has been published in several works on antiquities. At the close of the month last mentioned came the Floralia, which, if possible, excelled all the others in licence. Ausonius, in whose time the latter half of the fourth century the Floralia were still in full force, speaks of their lasciviousness- Nee non lascivi Floralia laeta theatri, Quae spectare volunt qui voluisse negant.

The loose women of the town and its neighbourhood, called together by the sounding of horns, mixed with the multitude in perfect nakedness, and excited their passions with obscene motions and language, until the festival ended in a scene of mad revelry, in which all restraint was laid aside.

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Juvenal describes a Roman dame of very depraved manners as- Dignissima prorsus Florali matrona tuba. These scenes of unbounded licence and depravity, deeply rooted in people's minds by long established customs, caused so little public scandal, that it is related of Cato the younger that, when he was present at the celebration of the Floralia, instead of showing any disapproval of them, he retired, that his well-known gravity might be no restraint upon them, because the multitude manifested some hesitation in stripping the women naked in the presence of a man so celebrated for his modesty.

The festivals more specially dedicated to Priapus, the Priapeia, were attended with similar ceremonies and similarly licentious orgies.

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Their forms and characteristics are better known, because they are so frequently represented to us as the subjects of works of Roman art. The Romans had other festivals of similar character, but of less importance, some of which were of a more private character, and some were celebrated in strict privacy. Such were the rites of the Bona Dea, established among the Roman matrons in the time of the republic, the disorders of which are described in such glowing language by the satirist Juvenal, in his enumeration of the vices of the Roman women: O quantus tunc illis mentibus ardor Concubitus!

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Lenonum ancillas posita Saufeia corona Provocat, et tollit pendentis praemia coxae. Ipsa Medullinae fluctum crissantis adorat. Palmam inter dominas virtus natalibus aequat. Nil ibi per ludum simulabitur: Tunc prurigo morae impatiens, tunc femina simplex, Et toto pariter repetitus clamor ab antro: Among the Teutonic, as well as among most other peoples, similar festivals appear to have been celebrated during the summer months; and, as they arose out of the same feelings, they no doubt presented the same general forms. Amazing Spiderman Mug Spiderman mug, perfect for any Marvel fan.

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