Fascinus is not just what it seems
The term "fascinus" refers to an amulet or talisman in the shape of an upright phallus, which was considered a symbol of fertility and protection against the evil eye in ancient Rome and other ancient cultures. The fascinus was often made of materials such as gold, silver, ivory or bronze, and was worn as a pendant or carried as a personal item. It was commonly used by Roman soldiers, but also by women and children, as protection against evil forces.
The effectiveness of the fascinus largely depended on its public display; the fascinus worn or carried as an amulet or talisman was flaunted so that its protective power was stronger.
Furthermore, the fascinus was often represented in works of art and architectural decorations, as a form of auspicious for fertility and prosperity.
However, the use of the fascinus was also associated with certain magical and ritual practices, which included the invocation of deities and the use of herbs and spells.
The etymology of the term "fascinus" is uncertain and debated by scholars, but there are several theories about it.
One theory suggests that the term "fascinus" comes from the Latin word "fascis", which means bundle or bond. This theory holds that the fascinus was a symbol of bonding or union, representing the connection between the masculine and feminine and between humans and deities.
Another theory suggests that the term "fascinus" comes from the Latin word "fascinare", meaning "to enchant" or "to fascinate". This theory holds that the fascinus was considered a magical amulet that had the power to charm or enchant evil forces and to protect the wearer from the spell of the evil eye.
Yet another theory suggests that the term "fascinus" comes from the Greek word "phallus," meaning phallus. This theory holds that the fascinus was an amulet in the shape of an upright phallus that represented male fertility and was used as protection against evil forces that could damage fertility.
In summary, there is no certain etymology for the term "fascinus", but there are several theories that suggest that the fascinus was a symbol of bonding, a magical amulet or a symbol of male fertility. This demonstrates that the fascinus was an object rich in symbolic and cultural meanings in ancient Rome and other ancient cultures.
What are the origins of Fascinus
The exact origins of the fascinus are uncertain, as the amulet was already in use in ancient Rome when the first writings about it were written. However, there are some theories about the origin and history of the fascinus.
One theory holds that the fascinus may be a Roman version of the phallic amulet used in other ancient cultures, such as the Greek one. In Greece, the phallic amulet was known as a "herma" and was often used to protect property and increase fertility.
Another theory suggests that the fascinus may be a Roman version of an older amulet used by pre-Roman Italic tribes. It is believed that these tribes had a strong tradition of using phallic amulets for protection and fertility, and that this tradition later spread into Roman culture.
It is also possible that the fascinus has more ancient origins, dating back to the ancient Italic deities of male fertility, who were often represented with erect scythes. Over time, these representations may have evolved into a portable phallic amulet used for protection and as a fertility tool.
In any case, the fascinus became a very popular amulet in ancient Rome, used for protection against the evil eye and to increase fertility. Its cultural and religious importance has been attested by its constant presence in Roman art and architecture, as well as by its mention in numerous ancient writings.
The superstition of ancient Rome was a serious matter
In ancient Rome, superstition was a common practice encompassing a wide variety of superstitious beliefs and practices aimed at preventing bad luck, warding off the evil eye, and protecting life and health.
Superstitiousness was so widespread in Rome that even emperors and the most important people in society participated in superstitious practices. For example, Augustus, the first Roman emperor, was known to always carry an amulet of protection against the evil eye.
Superstitious practices in ancient Rome included the use of amulets, talismans, prayers, sacrifices, spells and other rituals. Amulets were objects worn on the body, such as pendants, rings, bracelets, medals, or other items believed to have magical powers to protect the wearer.
Spells and prayers were often used to protect homes, property and people. Sacrifices were offered to the gods to propitiate their benevolence and protection. Numbers were also believed to have magical powers and that it was important to avoid certain days and situations to avoid bad luck.
However, not all superstitious practices were viewed favorably by the Roman authorities. For example, superstitious practices involving the use of animals for divination or other purposes were often prosecuted as illegal. Furthermore, some superstitious practices were considered a threat to social and political stability, such as astrology and dream interpretation.
In summary, superstition in ancient Rome was a widespread practice that encompassed a wide range of superstitious beliefs and practices aimed at preventing bad luck, avoiding the evil eye, and protecting life and health. These practices included the wearing of amulets, charms, prayers, sacrifices and other rituals. While some of these practices were persecuted by the Roman authorities, many of them were common among the populace and even high-ranking people.
Below the image of an original "fascinus" ring found in Herculaneum, my reproduction and the wax made by me that produced my replica