Priapus

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In Greek mythology, Priapos (Ancient Greek: Πρίαπος), Latinized as Priapus, was a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock, fruit plants, gardens and male genitalia. Priapus was best noted for his large, permanent erection, which gave rise to the medical term priapism.

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Relationship with other deities

Priapus was described as the son of Aphrodite by Dionysus, perhaps as father or son of Hermes,[1] son of Zeus or Pan, depending on the source.[2] According to legend, Hera cursed him with impotence, ugliness and foul-mindedness while he was still in Aphrodite's womb, in revenge for the hero Paris having the temerity to judge Aphrodite more beautiful than Hera.[3] The other gods refused to allow him to live on Mount Olympus and threw him down to Earth, leaving him on a hillside. He was eventually found by shepherds and was brought up by them.

Priapus joined Pan and the satyrs as a spirit of fertility and growth, though he was perennially frustrated by his impotence. In a ribald anecdote told by Ovid,[4] he attempted to rape the nymph Lotis but was thwarted by an ass, whose braying caused him to lose his erection at the critical moment and woke Lotis. He pursued the nymph until the gods took pity on her and turned her into a lotus plant. The episode gave him a lasting hatred of asses and a willingness to see them destroyed in his honour.[5]The emblem of his lustful nature was his permanent erection and his giant penis.[6]

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