The word phallus can refer to an erect penis, or to an object shaped like a penis.

In physical anatomy


It also refers to the male sexual organ of certain birds, which differs anatomically from a true (i.e. mammalian) penis; see Bird anatomy.

In art

Ancient and modern sculptures of phalloi have been found in many parts of the world, notably among the vestiges of ancient Greece and Rome. See also the Most Phallic Building contest for modern examples of phallic designs. In many ancient culture, phallic structures symbolized wellness and good health.

The Hohle phallus, a 28,000-year-old siltstone phallus discovered in the Hohle Fels cave and first assembled in 2005, is among the oldest phallic representations known. [cite news|first=Jonathan|last=Amos
title=Ancient phallus unearthed in cave|publisher=BBC News|date=2005-07-25
] .

Ancient Egypt

The Ancient Egyptians related the cult of phallus with Osiris. When Osiris' body was cut in 13 pieces, Seth scattered them all over Egypt and his wife Isis retrieved all of them except one, his penis, which was swallowed by a fish (see the Legend of Osiris and Isis).

The phallus was a symbol of fertility, and the god Min was often depicted "ithyphallic" (with an erect penis).

Ancient Greece

In traditional Greek mythology, Hermes, god of boundaries and exchange (popularly the "messenger" god) was considered to be a phallic deity by association with representations of him on herms (pillars) featuring a phallus. There is no scholarly consensus on this depiction and it would be speculation to consider Hermes a type of fertility god.

Pan, son of Hermes, was often depicted as having an exaggerated erect phallus.

Priapus was a Greek god of fertility whose symbol was an exaggerated phallus. The son of Aphrodite and either Dionysus or Adonis, according to different forms of the original myth, he was the protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens, and male genitalia. His name is the origin of the medical term priapism.

Ancient Japan

The Mara Kannon shrine (麻羅観音 or まらかんのん)in Nagato city, Yamaguchi prefecture, is one of many fertility shrines in Japan that still exist today. Also present in festivals such as the Danjiri Matsuri (だんじり祭)in Kishiwada city, Osaka prefecture, and the Kanamara Matsuri, in Kawasaki city, though historically phallus adoration was more widespread.

Ancient Rome

Ancient Romans wore phallic jewelry as talismans against the evil eye.

Ancient Scandinavia

The Norse god Freyr was a phallic deity, representing male fertility and love.

The short story "Völsa þáttr" describes a family of Norwegians worshipping a preserved horse penis.


"Kuker" is a divinity personifying fecundity, sometimes in Bulgaria and Serbia it is a plural divinity. In Bulgaria, a ritual spectacle of spring (a sort of carnival performed by Kukeri) takes place after a scenario of folk theatre, in which Kuker's role is interpreted by a man attired in a sheep- or goat-pelt, wearing a horned mask and girded with a large wooden phallus. During the ritual, various physiological acts are interpreted, including the sexual act, as a symbol of the god's sacred marriage, while the symbolical wife, appearing pregnant, mimes the pains of giving birth. This ritual inaugurates the labours of the fields (ploughing, sowing) and is carried out with the participation of numerous allegorical personages, among which is the Emperor and his entourage.Kernbach, Victor (1989). "Dicţionar de Mitologie Generală". Bucureşti: Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică. ISBN 973-29-0030-X. ]


In Tantric Shaivism a symbolic marker, the lingam is used for worship of the Hindu God Shiva. In related art the linga or lingam is the depiction of Shiva for example: [ mukhalinga] ) or cosmic pillar.This pillar is the worship focus of the Hindu temple, and is often situated within a yoni, indicating a balance between male and female creative energies. Fertility is not the limit of reference derived from these sculptures, more generally they may refer to abstract principles of creation. Tantrism should not be generalized to all forms of Hindu worship.
Christopher Isherwood addresses the misinterpretation of the "linga" as a sex symbol as follows [cite book | last = Isherwood | first = Christopher | authorlink = Christopher Isherwood | title = Ramakrishna and his disciples | Chapter = Early days at Dakshineswar | pages = p.48 ] —

North & South America

Figures of Kokopelli and Itzamna (as the Mayan tonsured maize god) in Pre-Columbian America often include phallic content.

In psychoanalysis

The symbolic version of the phallus, a phallic symbol is meant to represent male generative powers. According to Sigmund Freud's theory of psychoanalysis, while males possess a penis, no one can possess the symbolic phallus. Jacques Lacan's "Ecrits: A Selection" includes an essay titled "The Significance of the Phallus" which articulates the difference between "being" and "having" the phallus. Men are positioned as men insofar as they are seen to have the phallus. Women, not having the phallus, are seen to "be" the phallus. The symbolic phallus is the concept of being the ultimate man, and having this is compared to having the divine gift of God. Clarifyme|date=June 2008

In "Gender Trouble", Judith Butler explores Freud's and Lacan's discussions of the symbolic phallus by pointing out the connection between the phallus and the penis. She writes, "The law requires conformity to its own notion of 'nature'. It gains its legitimacy through the binary and asymmetrical naturalization of bodies in which the phallus, though clearly not identical to the penis, deploys the penis as its naturalized instrument and sign" (135). In "Bodies that Matter", she further explores the possibilities for the phallus in her discussion of "The Lesbian Phallus". If, as she notes, Freud enumerates a set of analogies and substitutions that rhetorically affirm the fundamental transferability of the phallus from the penis elsewhere, then any number of other things might come to stand in for the phallus (62). Clarifyme|date=June 2008

In fiction

Phallic symbolism can be perceived in a wide range of fiction and other popular culture works (in particular when analyzed in the context of psychoanalysis, although frequently that view is unconfirmed or unsanctioned by the creators).




*Vigeland Monolith - Oslo, Norway [,%20Oslo.jpg]

*cite book
last = Honour
first = Hugh
title = The Visual Arts: A History
publisher = H.N. Abrams
date= 1999
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-810-93935-5

*cite book
last = Keuls
first = Eva C.
title = The Reign of the Phallus
publisher = Harper & Row
date= 1985
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-520-07929-9

*cite book
last = Kernbach
first = Victor
title = Dicţionar de Mitologie Generală
publisher = Editura Ştiinţifică şi Enciclopedică
date= 1989
location = Bucureşti
id = ISBN 973-29-0030-X

*cite book
last = Leick
first = Gwendolyn
title = Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature
publisher = Routledge
date= 1994
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-415-06534-8

*cite book
last = Lyons
first = Andrew P.
coauthors = Harriet D. Lyons
title = Irregular Connections: A History of Anthropology and Sexuality
publisher = U Nebraska Press
date= 2004
id = ISBN 0-8032-8036-X

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • PHALLUS — Objet d’élaborations multiples, le phallus n’apparaît, dans l’Antiquité, ni comme une évidence anatomique ni comme un donné biologique. Né d’une vision physiologique qui prédisposait l’organe viril à devenir une abstraction métaphysique, le… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • PHALLUS — hesychio τὸ ξύλινον αἰδοῖον ἀνδρικὸν, ligneum virile: in Osiridisac Bacchi sacris sollemni pompâ gestari solitum, ut dictum in voce Phallica: et paulo hic infra. Imo unus ex quatuor Lasciviae Diis, quos, praeter Venerem, recenset Licetus, Priapum …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • Phallus — Sm das (erigierte) männliche Glied erw. fach. (17. Jh.) Entlehnung. Entlehnt aus l. phallus, dieses aus gr. phallós. Adjektiv: phallisch.    Ebenso nndl. fallus, ne. phallus, nfrz. phallus, nschw. fallos, nnorw. fallos. Zur germanischen… …   Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen sprache

  • Phallus — Phal lus, n.; pl. {Phalli}. [L., a phallus (in sense 1), Gr. ?.] 1. The emblem of the generative power in nature, carried in procession in the Bacchic orgies, or worshiped in various ways. [1913 Webster] 2. (Anat.) The penis or clitoris, or the… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • phallus — (n.) 1610s, an image of the penis, from L. phallus, from Gk. phallos penis, also carving or image of an erect penis (symbolizing the generative power in nature) used in the cult of Dionysus, from PIE *bhel no , from root *bhel (2) to blow,… …   Etymology dictionary

  • Phallus — (P. L.), Pflanzengattung aus der Familie Gasteromycetes Angiogastres Phalloidei; Art: P. impudicus (Gichtschwamm), vor der Entwickelung in eine weiße, einem Ei gleichende Haut eingeschlossen; entwickelt, mit kegelförmigem, am Rande freiem, am… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

  • Phallus — L. (Gichtschwamm, Eichelpilz, Eichelschwamm), Pilzgattung aus der Reihe der Basidiomyzeten, der Ordnung der Gastromyzeten und der Familie der Phallazeen, mit einem anfangs eiförmigen Fruchtkörper, dessen äußere Peridie unregelmäßig napfförmig… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Phallus — (grch. Phallos), das männliche Glied, insbes. die Nachbildung desselben als Symbol der Zeugungskraft in der Natur. Der Phallusdienst spielte in den Naturreligionen des Orients eine große Rolle …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Phallus [2] — Phallus, Pilzgattg. der Gasteromyzeten. P. impudīcus L. (Eichelpilz, Gicht –, Stinkmorchel [Tafel: Pilze, 31]), mit zunächst eiförmigem Fruchtkörper, aus dem sich dann ein lockerer, weißer Stiel mit grünlichem, spitzem Hut erhebt, riecht aasartig …   Kleines Konversations-Lexikon

  • Phallus — Phallus, griech., das männl. Glied; in den meisten oriental. Religionen, auch bei Griechen und italien. Völkerschaften religiöses Symbol, Sinnbild der zeugenden Naturkraft; vgl. Lingam …   Herders Conversations-Lexikon

  • Phallus — 1↑ Ball …   Das Herkunftswörterbuch

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