Every so often on this blog we will have a tribute to a god that is not known very well. This one is dedicated to Priapus (also spelled Priapos):
If somebody asked him, "Who's your daddy?" He might would have a hard time answering. Many myths have different fathers for him. The candidates are Zeus, Hermes, Adonis, and Dionysus, with Dionysus being the most popular. Most of the stories have Aphrodite as the mother.
Whoever the father, Hera doesn't like Aphrodite being pregnant. If Zeus is the father, that's understandable. If it is one of the others, Hera is upset because either Aphrodite's promiscuity is detestable, or because this takes place after the famous beauty contest between the Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite (the one that started the Trojan war). Whatever the reason, Hera touches Aphrodite's belly before she gives birth and when she does, the baby is ugly and ill tempered. As a result, Aphrodite kicks him off Mt. Olympus.
A shepard finds this creature and at first is repulsed but then begins to see that the area around him is growing wildly. Flowers are blooming, grass is greener, trees are bearing fruit, and male and female animals are enjoying each others company in an intimate way. The shepard recognizes that this must be a fertility god and gives him the credit he is due. His cult of worship spreads.
People begin to put little statues of him in garden pots and place them in their garden (or bedroom *wink wink nod nod*) to make their flowers grow better or to have children. Now before you go and make one fore your garden, there is a reason that I have not put his picture up here. Here is what he is generally described as:
* He has a dwarfish body
* He has a huge head
* He has big hands and feet
* He has a particular piece of male anatomy that is so large that it curves backwards over his shoulder.
The only other myth about him other than his birth that I found was when he tried to rape Hestia. A donkey brayed loudly and alerted her he was coming so that she could get a way. Priapus beat up the donkey to get his aggression out.
I found on one web site that in some places as Christianity began to take over, many people were willing to give up all the gods but Priapus. They still made loaves of bread in the shape of, well, you know in a tribute to him. According to my source, the church O.K.ed it as long as the loaves were marked with three crosses and this may have been the start of hot cross buns.