Priapus in Rough Cilicia?

Günder VARİNLİOĞLU  Ender VARİNOĞLU   906–916 | Download


Abstract: The phallic imagery encountered across Rough Cilicia has traditionally been associated with Hermes, the second most common deity in the region. An inscription on a door post from Güvercinlik, dating from the third or fourth centuries CE, challenges this assumption. The inscription and phallus, which serve the purpose of protecting the crop against the plunderers, recalls a similar epigram inscribed on a statue of Priapus from Acireale in Sicily, dating from the second or third century CE. In the West, Priapus was a common figure in Roman domestic spaces. The Güvercinlik inscription, on the other hand, belongs to a rural landscape with limited agricultural capacity, which nevertheless was aggressively exploited and inhabited from the Late Roman period till the end of antiquity. In light of the Güvercinlik inscription and the widespread occurrence of phallic symbols across this rural territory, we argue that a cult of Priapus may have existed in semi-urbanized rural contexts of Rough Cilicia, affected by Roman traditions.

Keywords: Rough Cilicia; Güvercinlik; Hermes; epigram; phallus; Priapus.



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