Sunday, 29 January 2017

Priapus, The Last Greek God Standing

Throughout history man has believed in something whether it was the Greeks with Zeus, the Romans with Jupiter or the Norse with Odin while today God and the baby Jesus seem to be the dominant mythology so there have been a lot of Gods and such deities lifted up to the heights and worshipped only to be dumped when a newer one came along.
In my mind Zeus and Hera are sat in Olympia impotent like a couple of old coffee mugs stacked at the back of the cupboard and obscured by the newer mugs so they are still there, just out of sight and unused in the vain hope that someone may yet pick them up again, brush them down and make use of them again which brings me neatly to Garden Gnomes. 
When i lived in Suburbia, every garden in our street had at least one Garden Gnome plonked outside the front garden amongst the Rhododendron's and Hydrangea and catching imaginary sealife with fishing rods or holding a garden implement and i always assumed they were derived from some sort of leprechaun but just found out they are not and they are homage to someone very different.
Priapus was a son of Aphrodite and a very minor Greek deity responsible for gardens and his thing (all Greek Gods have a thing) was that Zeus's Wife, Hera, in a fit of pique over losing a contest to his mother over an apple, cursed him with a massive penis which he used once to beat a donkey to death with.
As with all religions, when the Romans came to conjuring up their own religion they stole the Greek one and adopted Priapus as their own and kept him in charge of gardens and as so, Romans had small statues built of him with his huge penis and placed them in their gardens as tribute.
Roll forward a few centuries and while European knowledge of each other grew and expanded, the religions changed and absorbed bits and pieces from other religions to make up new ones, the small statue of Priapus with the whacking great wang remained protecting and looking after even more gardens.
Over time, the God's penis shrank and withdrew into a pair of trousers as his appearance underwent a change to protect sensitive European eyes from the scary looking Greek/Roman God to cute Gnome although his hat, called the Phrygian cap, remained the same.
What this all means is that out of all the Gods and deities who have been around since man conjured up the idea of a creator, Priapus is the one who has been around the longest and the one who we still pay homage to, even if we didn't know it.  
Somewhere on Mount Olympia, there is a deity looking at the long ago forgotten Hera and thanking her that her curse on him meant that over two millennium later, he is still having statues erected in his honour while she is stacked away at the back of the cupboard unused and unloved, she inadvertently made him the last deity from the Greek God era still standing.

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