Monumental Etruscan terracotta phallus

Etruria, classical period, 5th-4th century B.C.
H. 18 cm (7 3⁄32 in) W. 24 cm (9 29⁄64 in)

Roger Peyrefitte collection (1907-2000), Paris
With S. N., Switzerland, acquired from the above
Private collection, Switzerland, from the above in 1976

Ars Amatoria. The art of love in antiquity, 2019, 9-10 no. 02

Naturalistically moulded to represent male genitalia, the phallus with well-defined foreskin, is pierced at the tip and is partially hollow on the reverse. 

The phallus probably originated from Etruria. This type of object can usually be identified as a votive offering, typical of this area; the votives would have been presented in a temple in the hope of healing for that part of the body. However, the size of this piece prohibits the identification as a votive; it is more likely to have been a protective, prophylactic emblem, almost even a lucky talisman. The fascinus, or divine phallus, symbolized masculine power. People living in ancient Rome saw the imagery as a sign of good fortune and protection. The dating cannot be more precise than around the 5th-4th century B.C.

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