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Fascinus was one of the earliest divinities to be worshiped by the Latin peoples, particularly in early Romemarker.

The divinity, who was represented by a phallus, was believed to protect women in childbirth and ward off the evil eye.

Before a military triumphal procession, a Vestal Virgin carefully hid a Fascinus on the underside of the triumphing general's chariot. This was believed to prevent mishaps that could ruin the triumph's effect.

Etymology

Some confusion is had that the word fascinate arises from the Latin word for an erect penis. This is not true, but the confusion arises from the close etymological history of the words. The word "fascinus" means witchcraft or spells, and it evolved from fascinare (which means to bewitch or enchant, as early Roman children wore phallic shaped necklaces to ward off demons). The past particle of fascinare is fascinatus, which is now known as fascinate.

References

  1. Pliny. Historia Naturalis xxviii. 4, 7
  2. Take Our Word For It Issue 14



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