Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The image of Priapus : ambiguity and masculinity in Roman visual culture
Author: Dunleavy, Katherine
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 7168
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
From the first century BCE the image of Priapus increased in popularity in Roman visual culture. Although rarely depicted in public art, Priapus' representation was ubiquitous in domestic and personal contexts. However, this imagery has largely been overlooked because of its decorative and highly sexual nature. This study re-evaluates these disregarded images and explores the popularity of images of Priapus, with particular reference to the masculine culture of Roman urban settings. Previous work has tended to catalogue but here Priapus' image is approached thematically in relation to rural fertility cult, apotropaic laughter, domestic luxury and mythical landscapes. Specifically, this study looks at the relationship between images of Priapus and discourses about tradition, indulgence, foreignness and performance. As a man-made deity, Priapus occupies a unique position in the visual language of mythology which allows him to blur the boundaries between the human world and distant, imagined landscapes. He is, therefore, an expression of the Roman tendency towards artificiality in art, architecture and day to day life. This study will show that by contextualising images of Priapus in the dominant culture of the time the images can provide insight into the social tensions and anxieties of the patrons, and viewers, of these artworks. This thesis will demonstrate that representations of Priapus reflect key elements in the construction of Roman male identity, including the balance between Roman tradition and Hellenistic influence, and between aggressive masculinity and sophisticated effeminacy.
Supervisor: Momigliano, Nicoletta ; Hales, Shelley Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available