The Phallic 'Savior of the World' Revisited
In preparation for Frank Zindler's book rebutting Bart Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist?
, I have acquired and read the important study I referenced in my rebuttal of "Errorman's" absurd contentions regarding the phallic cock "Savior of the World" artifact
Lorrayne Y. Baird's "Priapus Gallinaceus: The Role of the Cock in Fertility and Eroticism in Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages," Studies in Iconography
, vols. 7-8, University of Kentucky, 1981-82, pp. 81-111.
This article by Dr. Lorrayne Baird, a professor at Youngstown State University, contains some very important information, so I am happy that I was pressed to read it in its entirety, as previously I had only referenced it via Google Books. This study alone yields valuable data for mythicist studies in general, as I'm sure does Baird's paper entitled, "Christus Gallinaceus," which analyzes the Christian uses of the cock as symbolizing Jesus
. (Baird-Lange, Lorrayne Y. "Christus Gallinaceus: A Chaucerian Enigma; or the Cock as Symbol of Christ in the Middle Ages." Studies in Iconography
9 (1983): 19-30.)
Since Baird does not take the mythicist position in her studies, she may not have noticed some germane connections in that regard, such as that the gospel character of "Peter," who finds no clear place in history but has the earmarks of a mythical figure, may himself be a remake in significant part of the very ancient and highly popular ithyphallic
god best known by the epithet "Priapus." ("Ithyphallic" means "erect penis.")
In any event, Baird's study shows that we are analyzing a solar and fertility symbol which, in its myriad forms, was quite popular around the Mediterranean and elsewhere, such as in India with the worship of the Shiva lingam. Because of its obvious solar connotations, this particular genre also serves to illustrate the astrotheology symbolism of Paganism and Christianity. So, thanks to Ehrman we now have even more juicy stuff for the mythicist thesis.
The following are relevant excerpts from Baird's paper "Priapus Gallinaceus," interspersed throughout with my commentary.
Several centuries before Christ, the barnyard cock, known as the Persian bird because of its origin, was adopted as a domestic animal by the inhabitants of lands around the Mediterranean. A favorite among these ancient peoples, the cock exhibited qualities which caused him to be readily associated with divine affairs, and the register of gods with which he is associated is truly impressive. His crowing at dawn caused him to become connected with gods of creation, light, dawn and the sun - and by extension with commerce, diligence, work and eloquence. Thus, he was sacred to Zeus; to Jupiter; to Ormuzd, Zoroastrian creator and light god; to Helios-Phoebus-Apollo the Graeco-Roman sun god; to Hermes-Mercury, god of commerce; to Athena Ergane, patroness of workers; to Velchanos, the Cretan Vulcan; to Heracles-Hercules, god of loquacity and eloquence. The belligerence of the cock recommended him to war gods and tutelary deities, and thus he is also associated with Mars, the Roman god of war; with the Akkadian Mars-Nergal; and with Athena, tutelary deity of Athens. In love, as in war, he was champion. His avidity for coition caused him to be associated with Eros and Amor; with Attis the Phrygian god of fertility (also known, in contradiction, as a eunuch god); with the Greek Hermes-Serapis; with the Egyptian Typhon-Set. It is usual to equate these fertility deities with Priapus, the chief ithyphallic Graeco-Roman god of fertility, with whom the cock is also associated as an important part of the cult and the iconography. Though usually identified with male fertility or phallic deities, the cock was sometimes associated with their female counterparts, being sacred, for example, to Cybele, the Great Mother of the Gods honored in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome....
...In the Christian era, connections with ancients gods now devalued or scorned cause some ambivalence in acceptance of the cock as a symbol, but when seen as a general principle, the uncomplicated fertility values of the cock were easily taken into the Christian scheme [per Genesis 1:22]... Indeed, the fecundity of the cock continued to be applauded throughout the Christian centuries, as is shown also in a certain coq gaulois - a bronze sculptured cock with a tail shaped like a reaping hook, or perhaps a plow - a figure used in eighteenth century and thereafter in France as a national symbol representing fertility...[pp. 81-82]
Here we learn that the cock as fertility symbol could also be Christian. Baird next recounts a list of related ancient artifacts, such as Greek vases with images of figures with erect phalluses, associated with Dionysus, for example, and others, some of which date to the fifth century BCE. She also notes that the cock is a "watchman," based on his sunrise role, such as for Venus and Mars in the myth of Alectryon.The Cock and Homosexuality
On p. 83, Baird continues:
In ancient Greece and surrounding areas, the most common erotic association of the cock, however, seems to have been homosexual affairs. Concerning Bythinia in Asia Minor, a country notorious in ancient times for sodomy and other sex practices...
When I see the name "Bythinia" or "Bithynia," I am immediately reminded of the passage in Pliny the Younger proffered by Christian apologists and others as "proof" of the supposed existence of "Jesus Christ." To wit, in one of his letters to Trajan (Epistulae
X. 96), Pliny, who was governor of Bithynia from 111 to 113 AD/CE, purportedly writes about "Christiani" and "Christo," while in epistle 97 he supposedly includes the form "Christianum." These "Christians" are reputed to sing hymns to "Christ as to God," according to letter 96. For a discussion of whether these terms could actually be "Chrestiani" and "Chrestos," see John Barham's "Pliny correspondence with Trajan: Christians or Chrestians?"
I will be expounding upon this "Chrestiani" subject as well, as part of my "Chrestos" series
. This debate becomes even more relevant when one discovers from the Church father Hippolytus that the ithyphallic god or "Priapus" was also called Bonus
in Latin, which is Agathos
in Greek, like chrestos
meaning "good." Is it not possible that this seat of phallic worshippers, Bithynia, was also a main site of Priapus followers
, and it is these
to whom Pliny refers?
In any event, Baird also includes a discussion of artifacts reflecting both the homosexual connotations and the fighting aspect of the cock, relating that the "cockfight as spiritual agon
[trial or "agony"] likewise found favor in the Christian Middle Ages." She further says that the "cockfight also decorates early Christian marriage sarcophagi..." (83) Homosexual rape is symbolized by the cock on ancient Greek vases as well. Baird further remarks: "Though relatively meagre as compared to the wealth of material in art, evidence from classical writings also supports the erotic and homosexual symbolism of the cock." (84)Phalli
Baird next discusses other artifacts such as "phalli" or phallic pillars (also called "herms" when serving as boundary markers) and phallic amulets, such as a giant stone phallic pillar at Delos from the fourth century BCE that appears in association with Dionysus. Directly under this giant phallus, says Baird, "is carved a cock with head and neck in the form of a phallus." So, here we have a sculpture from the fourth century BCE that approximates the later statuary with Soter Cosmou
or "Savior of the World" inscribed on it. Baird (85) also explains that, although fertility worship was prevalent in many cultures for thousands of years, it was during this era (4th cent. BCE) when "Priapic anthropomorphism" began to thrive in Greece and elsewhere. Solar Connection
Baird next remarks (85):
How the cock, the solar bird, came to be associated with fertility deities in the first place, and with Priapus in particular, is not precisely known, but in view of the importance given by the ancients to the sun in the process of generation, it seems reasonable to start with the solarian connections of the gods. In his Physics 2.2 Aristotle says that "in Nature man generates man; but the process presupposes and takes place in natural material already organized by solar heat." Also Macrobius, calling on old authorities, reminds us of the origin of all gods from the sun. Because of his crowing at dawn, the cock as universal solar symbol, was appropriate to the gods through this connection long before he became associated with the grotesqueries of phallic anthropomorphism in the Mediterranean area.
Here we see the emphasis again on the sun, with the generalization that, per Macrobius, all gods derive from the sun. Those who are erudite on the subject of ancient mythology, per authorities such as Macrobius and his sources, know well about the solar or "solarian" connections emphasized here, and we are therefore being scientific and scholarly when keeping that view in mind while analyzing religious texts from antiquity such as the New Testament. Mythicism is a pretty empty exercise when such ancient data are ignored, thus making people ignorant. The Phallus as Symbol of the Bull
In this same regard of dispelling ignorance, Baird includes - in her peer-reviewed paper for a scholarly journal - the following:
The earliest phallic cults did not, however, involve the cock, since he was not known until a few centuries before Christ. According to Dulaure, the cult of the phallus originated two to three thousand years before the Christian era in connection with the zodiacal sign of Taurus, symbol of the returning spring sun and regeneration. In this cult thus deriving from an astrological origin, he believes, first the zodiacal bull was worshipped and later the animal itself. The sacred goat, which has similar astrological origins, was also incorporated into the cult and both animals were called Apis.
She goes on to explain that this scholar Dulaure breaks "Priapus" down into "pri," meaning "principle, production or first source," and Apis
. While this etymology may not be sound, we are very interested in the fact that this professional scholar from Youngstown State University in a paper published by a modern, peer-reviewed journal from an American university, refers to the age of Taurus. Her source is Jacques-Antoine Dulaure's Des Divinites generatices ou du culte du Phallus chez les anciens et les modernes, des cultes du dieu de Lampasque, de Pan, de Venus, etc.
, Paris, 1805. The English translation of this work is "A.F.N.'s" The Gods of Generation
, New York, 1933. So, not only does this credentialed scholar raise the precessional ages in her paper but she also refers to a book - gasp! - from the 19th century.
In referring to the Taurean analysis by Dulaure, Baird concludes:
This emphasis explains the existence of phalli, which survive in great numbers from ancient times. Among Greeks, Phoenicians and Egyptians, this sacred symbol of the fecundating powers of the sun was called Phallus or Priapus; among the Romans, Tutinus, Mutinus or Fascinum; among the Indians, Lingam. Anthropomorphism of the phallus began among the Greeks, especially in Lampsacus, home of Priapus, ithyphallic deity in human or partly human form, who appears in some instances with a crown like the Sun, in others with the head of a cock. Herodotus confirms the Greek origin, informing us that though the Greeks adopted most of their gods from the Egyptians, the ithyphallic images of Hermes (in this form equated with Priapus) came from the Pelasgians, whose sacred tale concerning this god was found, he [Herodotus] says, among the Samothracian mysteries.
So, here we have quite a few mythicist motifs in a short paragraph. The sacred fecundating power of the sun is from sun worship, obviously, while, as we know, nearly 2,5000 years ago Herodotus had already said the Greek gods were essentially based on the Egyptian gods, so one must wonder why the irrational, unscientific and unscholarly resistance to tracing the mythical elements of the gospel story to their pre-Greek Egyptian origins?
In any event, we also discover that the Greek phallic worship came from the pre-Greek inhabitants of Greece and Macedonia, the Pelasgians, contributors to the famous Samothracian mysteries. Hence, the anthropomorphized ithyphallic god symbolized by the cock is evidently part of the mysteries, which explains why the cult's various characteristics are not widely explicated upon in literature, although abundantly represented in imagery. As we know, much ancient knowledge was transmitted via the mysteries, including the Greek traditions whence much of Christianity can be traced and which did not originate many if not most of these concepts. Stopping at Greece while looking for the origins of Christianity is a shallow endeavor that ignores a massive body of data.Secret Museum Collections
Next from Baird comes a discussion of the herm, previously mentioned, a phallic statue named after the god Hermes (Mercury) and used as boundary markers throughout Greece. In my travels in that land, I saw many of these artifacts both in situ and in museums. They are essentially rectangular posts with large erect phalluses sticking out of them. Baird (93) discusses a famous herm "now contained in the secret collection of the National Museum of Naples" that is part of a stucco mural, in which the "ithyphallic herm is equipped with the crested head, body and wings of a cock." Baird opines that, since the cock is a "solar bird," this artifact could be a "serious monument of the type explained by Macrobius..." In this artifact from the first century BCE, we may well be looking at a prototype for our Soter Cosmou
Note that Baird is not hesitant in stating outright that the University of Naples museum has a SECRET COLLECTION, asserted so matter-of-factly that one understands many
museums possess such secret collections, including the Vatican. Indeed, it is in this writer's work that the secret Vatican
collection is likewise mentioned, which is why this article was originally of interest. As we can see, it is also a goldmine for other reasons as well.
The reality is that secret and hidden collections in museums are quite common, as such institutions do not and cannot display everything they possess, obviously. In my travels to some 200 archaeological sites in Greece, I encountered many of these back rooms in museums, since I was traveling with groups of students and scholars who were given access to them. I even worked in one of these storerooms while an archaeology student at Corinth, Greece. Anyone who does not know about these rooms in museums not available to the public apparently has not been to museums in the capacity of a scholar.
In any event, Baird next moves into a discussion of the phallic god's epithet "Priapus," by which he eventually became known, to the exclusion of most other names. On p. 87, she gives a lengthy comparative-religion analysis:
The ithyphallic god of fertility in human form was worshipped, often in connection with the sun, among many early peoples besides the Greeks: in Asian Minor he appears as the Phoenician Adonis; among the Hebrews, as Baal-Peor and Mepheletzeth; among the Hindus, as Vishnu; among the Babylonians, as Eabani of the Gilgamesh Epic. The Gnostic Sermones ad Mortuos also identify Abraxas with Pan and Priapus... In Egypt more than one god was represented as ithyphallic. Ptah, creator god worshipped at Memphis, was shown as a swaddled mummy with a huge protruding phallus, symbolizing the union of life and death. Often compared to Bacchus or Dionysus, the Egyptian sun-god Osiris (originally a falcon deity worshipped as early as 2,400 B.C.) in later times is sometimes seen as an ithyphallic trinity. In his characteristic posture, holding the erect phallus in his hand, he is believed to be swearing by his divine power. The son or brother of Osiris, Horus, the Egyptian sun god of spring, was similarly represented as holding the phallus in the left hand, the sceptre in the right. The Theban form of this deity shows him producing men and animals in the ejaculation from his phallus, an iconographic motif later adopted by the Gnostics in some representations of their sun god, IAO (ΙΑΩ) or Jai. An allegory pertaining to Siva, sun god of India, expresses the same idea of the phallic creator: seeing that his phallus was so large as to reach his forehead (as is typical of Priapus under whatever name) the god dismembered himself and divided the phallus into twelve parts, from which originated all the tribes of man....
Here we have another mouthful that requires lengthy exegesis. Always noteworthy is the discussion of the SUN, once more underscoring the inadequacy of scholarship that does not factor the solar connection into the analysis of religious origins in general and Christian origins in specific. We also see an unbridled display of comparative religion/mythology that is actually logical and needs no special methodology. Moreover, we note that Osiris and Horus are declared to be sun gods, and we also learn that the Gnostic SUN god IAO - equated by Diodorus and others with the Jewish god YHWH - was depicted in a phallic manner, as were gods of the Old Testament worshipped by the Hebrews, such as Baal-Peor
) and Mepheletzeth.
Moreover, in the story of the Indian god Siva/Shiva - here likewise recognized as a sun god
, as I demonstrated in Suns of God
- is with special emphasis on his phallus, we find the myth of Osiris as well, and these two gods have been associated with each other since antiquity, with the stories of Osiris traveling around India. Although Osiris's parts are 14, representing the fortnight of the moon's waning, here we find one possible origin of the 12 biblical tribes as well. There is much evidence that the original "Abrahamic" Hebrews were in fact a priestly caste from India who moved into the Levant and merged their gods with the Canaanite pantheon. (See my book Did Moses Exist?
for more on that subject.)Priapus and Christianity
As we can see, there is so much material in this Baird article that this post is becoming very lengthy. In her analysis, she includes the influence on Christianity, of course, remarking of the Priapus/phallic cults:
As a matter of fact, these cults came into Europe near the time of Christ, entering northern Europe through the Phoenicians, and Gaul through the Romans after the wars of Caesar, thence to spread all over Western Europe...
Here follows an interesting discussion of the phallic cult in Europe, where we can still find vestiges of it to this day, in maypoles and so on.
Indeed, we learn that, in the Middle Ages, Priapus became a Christian saint, under a number of monikers
- once again making us wonder about whether or not "St. Peter" is likewise a rehash of Priapus in significant part:
St. Foutin in the north of France in Languedoc and in the province of Lyons, St. Gilles in Brittany, St. Rene in Anjou, St. Regnaud in Burgundy, St. Guignole near Brest, St. Guerlichon in Bourges, St. Cosmo and St. Damiano in Isernia in Italy. Thus, the cult of Priapus was widespread throughout Europe... (Baird, 89)
Naturally, a study of these "saints" would undoubtedly prove fruitful and fascinating.
Just before the common era, Diodorus discussed the popularity of Priapus:
According to Diodorus Siculus (1.88; 4.6) and other writers, Priapus was considered the highest god, whom all other gods served: he was the Creator of the World, God of the Universe, Almighty Pan. He was identified with the Cosmos, with Helios and with Phanes-Protogonos or Eros Protogonos of Hesiod and the Orphic hymns.
Here we discover the root of the "Savior of the World" epithet, as well as the usurpation of the virgin mother goddess
by the parthenogenetically reproducing male creator. The epithet "protogonos" means "first born," so even that is not original to Christianity, as we know.
Next Baird gives a list of natural elements and objects with which Priapus is associated, such as figs, grapes, almonds and pomegranates, each of which possesses fertility and sexual connotations. We also learn about the association with animals, such as the bull, previously noted, and the goat, ass and cock: "In association with fertility symbols and attributes of Priapus, the cock is found in innumerable instances." (Baird, 90)Cock and Priapus as Protectors
We read further on p. 91 of Baird that the cock is the protector:
Mohammed reputedly kept a white cock as a pet to protect him from "machinations of witchcraft, of genii and devils and of the evil eye."
Priapus as protector was revered by fishermen, among others:
Priapus, the phallus incarnate, who was himself sometimes figured forth as a cock, was famed as a protector: he watched over sailors, fishermen, travelers, shepherds and beekeepers; he was also guardian of streams and fountains, gardens, vineyards and graves. Graves, in particular, have been a rich source for phallic finds in areas as widely separated as Norway, Italy and Sumatra.... In early Christians graves as I have shown elsewhere, the cock replaced the phallus, serving as a similar protective function, as well as symbolizing Christ and the Resurrection.
The fact that this god was especial to fishermen makes one wonder once again about the fisherman "St. Peter," essentially the leader of the disciples, the bulk of whom were claimed to be "fishermen." It appears that Peter is a combination of Priapus and Mithra, among others, these two also sharing a prevalence in the cult of the afterlife, e.g., depicted on funerary and grave relics. In Egypt, the winged goddess served this purpose of grave protection as well, a cruciform image spread on the corners of coffins.Cock-Human Hybrid and IAO-YHWH
Discussing the combined cock-human form, Baird (92) remarks:
Grotesque figures combining the cock form with the full human male form are found very early; the earliest of these which has come to my attention appears in a scene from Greek drama on an Attic vase by the fifth century B.C.
Speaking of a "love charm" of a "cock-headed demon, crudely drawn, equipped with multiple phalli" who is accosting a "miserable-looking little creature," the object of the love charm, Baird comments that "it is thought to be a representation of Typhon-Set." She also notes that a Gnostic gem "shows the same gesture: the god, Iao, cock-headed and serpent-footed, seizes an abject kneeling figure in the same manner." Again, it should be noted that Iao was equated with YHWH in antiquity
.The Priapus gallinaceus
Next we move into the subject at hand: The genre called Priapus gallinaceus
, about which Baird (93) states that the "best example of this type [is] a figure from the cabinet of Cardinal Chigi in Rome..." She also tells the story of Laurentius Beger (17th cent.), contemporary of De la Chausse, who informs us of the following:
...in his own day, the cardinals of the Roman Church, to prevent further desecrations or thefts from objects of this kind, as well as to preserve their dignity, wisely had them shut up from public view in a newly constructed Cimeliarchio, or room for keeping the valuables of the Church.
So, here we have another discussion of the secreting of these phallic objects in a safe and hidden place by Church authorities. Not much different than what I originally stated of the phallic bronze hidden in the Vatican. The Phallic Savior Hidden in the Vatican
Finally, we arrive at what we have come for: The Albani phallic bronze
. On p. 94 is where we find the text in Baird relevant to our discussion here:
The most remarkable of all the examples of the Priapus gallinaceus grotesque, however, is an antique Roman bronze of the Albani collection. The bronze is a bust with the neck, shoulders and breast of a human male figure, upon which is grafted the crested head of a cock with an erect phallus replacing nose and chin. At the base of the bust appears the inscription ΣΩΤΗΡ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ [Soter Kosmou] ("Savior of the World"). This object was published under papal and royal authority, exhibited for a time in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and is now said to be held inaccessible in the secret collections of the Vatican. During the life of this bronze, officials disagreed upon the probity of the exhibit. One offended cardinal requested that the object be removed from public view; whereupon, Pope Benedict XIV is reported to have answered "that he had no authority over such a personage, being himself but his vicar."
Now we have a much deeper and broader picture of the milieu when Christianity was created: To wit, phallic imagery was quite prevalent and included the priapic "Savior of the World," the cock of which also symbolized both Christ and Peter. In addition, the most famous of these statues has been hidden safely away in the Vatican. As we can see, one "refutes" my contention only through ignorance of all of the above facts, which ignorance exposes the pretense at "expertise."
To reiterate, what I wrote in Christ Conspiracy concerning this phallic artifact
was accurate, per this professional academic's scholarship. In addition to the fact that Dr. Baird's contentions confirm my research is the astonishing implication of Pope Benedict XIV's words here, which seem to be claiming that he is but a mere vicar to this "personage" of Priapus or, at the least, Yahweh/Jesus as the ithyphallic god/Priapus. The pope here is likewise acknowledging that the sexual connotation of God as Creator is a sacred attribute that he has no right to contravene; hence, these artifacts are sequestered apparently with great reverence.
Regarding this contention, Baird also says:
Scholars have likewise disagreed, but the earliest writers accept the object as a genuine artifact from the cult of Priapus.... De la Chausse explains this most ridiculous seeming of all Priapic objects as a serious and dignified monument by reference to Aristotle and the tradition that the cock was sacred to the Sun, itself governor of the power generation. The phallus, he explains, is placed on the head of the cock because man working with the sun accomplishes generation, through this achieving immortality and thus proving himself Savior of the World.
Again, we are faced with a pregnant paragraph that requires exegesis in a number of directions. Basically, the contentions disprove the skepticism about the Priapus gallinaceus
artifacts, by raising known ancient traditions, which would include the moniker soter kosmou
or "savior of the world." As we know, many ancient gods and goddesses were called "savior" in various languages, including the Greek soter
, the same term inscribed on this artifact. There exists no scientific reason to suspect that the artifact is a forgery.
Referring to Richard Payne Knight's A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus
(New York: University Books, 1974), Baird (94) also remarks:
The various elements in this composition, he says, "represented the generative power of the Ερως [Eros], the Osiris, the Mithras, or Bacchus, whose center is the sun, incarnate with man," the cock being the "emblem of the sun."
Substantially in agreement regarding the divine character of the object, Dulaure (p. 106) adds his belief that the Greeks
preserved to the Phallus, and to Priapus himself, its original connections with the sun, and their cult was almost never separated from that of this star, under whatever name it was adored. Determined by these principles, they accorded Priapus the title of Saviour of the World, which was often given to sun-gods, and especially to the different signs which have successively marked the spring equinox, such as Gemini, Taurus, Capricornus [?] and finally Aries.
Subsequently, Baird refers to the Albani priapus as the "Vatican bust," indicating its location, which all scholarly works agree is
the Vatican. She recounts that certain individuals have believed this artifact to be buffoonish, stating, as noted, that the "Vatican Saviour-as-Phallic-cock was a scandalous satire on early Christians." (Baird, 95)
She next raises the issue of this phallic symbol representing homosexual practices, considered scandalous, obviously, and remarks that the "opinion that the Vatican bronze reflects this scandal was first advanced by Mamachi, and later accepted by Renan and LeClerq." As we can see, this bronze was considered scandalous and was hidden from public in the Vatican, as I have summarized.
Moreover - and quite importantly - Baird refers to the opinion that the artifact's inscription ΣΩΤΗΡ ΚΟΣΜΟΥ Soter Kosmou
or "Savior of the World" is a fake. In her counterargument, she takes to task those who are ignorant and probably biased irrationally in their haste to paint this inscription as inauthentic:
Others have doubted the authenticity of the inscription... One must question whether personal taste has not vitiated scholarly objectivity in this case, however, since the same inscription also appears on other phallic objects also dating from Roman times - as, for example, on the elongated phallus which constitutes a feature of a bronze Roman amulet found in Italy, as well as on a lamp...Priapus as Eunuch
Baird follows this rebuttal with a discussion of the use of the word Gallos/Gallus, which can mean both cock and castrato. In this era, Priapus is depicted as castrated, per the followers of Cybele and subscribed to by Christians as well, so as to remove the sexuality from the concept of the Savior of the World. To remove the sexual connotation of an erect phallus appears to represent a scene from the "Theater of the Absurd," but such is often what religious fanaticism produces.
Concerning this castration, Baird (96) comments:
This mutilation was not, however, accepted by the Gnostics, whose creed and traditions retained traces of Priapus gallinaceus, seen both in their writings and in the iconography of their IAO-ABRAXAS, a god with Priapic connections. In the second century Sermones ad Mortuous of Basilides for example, Abraxas, worshipped as the author of Life, is equated with the sun, with effective nature, with Pan and with Priapus.
So, again we see this theme of the sun. Bonus autem est Priapus
Furthermore, Baird tells us the following about the Church father Hippolytus (d. c. 236) in his Refutations of Heresies, 5.54
reports that Justinus tried to have Priapus recognized as God the Father, first person of the Trinity, the "Good One." Moreover, Hippolytus (pp. 237-238) says that after he was crucified, Jesus ascended to the Good One and that the Good One
is Priapus, and he it is who antecedently caused the production of everything that exists. On this account he is styled Priapus, because he previously fashioned all things [according to his own design]. For this reason...in every temple is placed his statue, which is revered by every creature: and there are images of him in the highways, carrying over his head ripened fruits, that is, the produce of creation, of which he is the cause, having in the first instance formed [according to His own design] the creation, when as yet it had no existence.
Again, we face a tremendously significant commentary. Here we learn that - logically - the phallic god is held up by a "Justinus" [a third-century priest?] as God the Father, an association entirely applicable that had been going on for many centuries to millennia. For thousands of years, Goddess the Mother was depicted as possessing a womb and represented by yonic symbols. The next noticeable thing is the equation of Priapus with the "Good One," which is Bonus in the Latin and Agathos, Kalos or Chrestos
in the Greek. It should be recalled that ritual language in antiquity - particularly in Greek and Sanskrit - produced great significance for certain terms and phrases, such as Chrestos or Agathos, or, as the case is here, Priapus. IAO-ABRAXAS as Priapus
Next in Baird (96) we read a discussion of the Gnostic god IAO-ABRAXAS as represented by the cock and thus likely related to Priapus:
The inscription ΙΑω [sic], usually accompanying the figure is also that of Jehovah, the Eternal God of the Hebrews, as well as of Bacchus, the Roman fertility god... Under one such figure...is found the inscription ΙΑω ΑΒΡΑϹΑΣ ϹΑΒΑωΘ ΑΔωΝΕΟϹ [IAO ABRAXAS SABAOTH ADONEOS], combining the name of Abraxas with the most sacred names of the God of the Old Testament, Jehovah, Sabaoth and Adonai. In addition to this cock-form, Abraxas is also given other attributes of sun gods and fertility deities. A jasper...for example, shows Abraxas with rays...emanating from the cock's head in the iconographic style of the sun-god of Harpocrates (Horus the Child); while in no. 123, he holds a palm branch in the left hand and in the right a purse..., attribute of Mercury, Hermes and Priapus. Thus, the iconography of Abraxas supports his association with ancient fertility gods, and thereby continues the venerable tradition of the cock-as-god into the early centuries of the Christian era.
Again, we are gobsmacked by fascinating information that puts the many pieces together - and that revolves significantly around the sun, a point that cannot be emphasized enough.
Ending the essay (97) are Baird's comments on how the prudish Christianity increasingly devalued Priapus, to the point where he was "demon of lust," remarking:
On the contrary, other qualities of the cock, more admirable to official ecclesiastical taste - his crowing to announce the sun, his vigilance and wakefulness, his leadership of his flock, etc. - guaranteed him for an important and dignified role in Christian symbolism, where he is famous as a type of eunuchus dei, or figure of spiritual fruitfulness. As praedicator, or preacher, he guards his flock, uncovers for them the grani puri (kernels of truth), awakens them from spiritual sloth and slumber, announces to them the coming of Christ.
Moreover - a fact that is less widely appreciated - the ancient cock-as-god tradition attaches itself also to the figure of Christ Himself. The Christus gallinaceus, beginning seriously in early Christian art and hymnody, as I shall demonstrate...
Here we read about Baird's future article concerning the Christus gallinaceus
or genre of Christ as symbolized by the cock.
It should further be noted that in the citations Baird (103) discusses the Greek god of healing, Asclepius, who likewise can be identified with the healer Priapus, as can be the Old Testament god Yahweh, who is both a phallic deity and the "Good One."