He’s the son of beautiful APHRODITE, but there’s some confusion over his father’s identity. ZEUS, APOLLO or DIONYSUS are the most likely candidates. But we incline towards ZEUS because his wife HERA (a jealous rival in the beauty stakes) put a curse on the unborn baby which resulted in him being delivered plug-ugly and impotent.
He was so utterly revolting that the Gods kicked him out and PRIAPUS fell to Earth. The unhappy child was fostered by NYMPHS and shepherds, which brought him during his formative years into contact with the piping hot band of PAN and the Satyrs, a group well-known for their wild animalistic behavior and outrageous sexual exhibitionism.
He was always well-attended by NYMPHS and their nymphomania. But sadly, however much PRIAPUS lusted, he could not come up with the goods.
Until one day something amazing happened and his male appendage grew to enormous size. Could there have been a God named Viagra lurking behind the scenes? Unfortunately his erection was permanent, and so huge that he couldn’t move. He was rooted to the spot.
Pan carried him off and stood him at the entrance of the woods as a sort of minder. Whenever unwanted visitors wandered by, Priapus would lift his tunic, brandish his weapon, and scare them away.
Following this, statues of PRIAPUS became very popular for guarding gates, estates, crossroads and doorways. He was employed as a sort of sleeping policeman, or traffic hump. Before passing his figure, it was deemed wise for passers-by to ‘stroke the dong’ for luck. (This kind of career opportunity is sadly lacking in modern times.)
Somewhere along the line some wag (or graffiti artist) added a winged helmet and sandals to some of these statues, thereby causing identity confusion with HERMES. Basic phallic statues began to appear and these were known as Herms. (Eventually, the Romans promoted Hermes to MERCURY, so it must have done his reputation some good!)
Meanwhile, PRIAPUS rose fairly high in the public’s estimation, and was later given responsibility for harvests and fruitfulness. But the disturbing fact remains, he never had any progeny. As he was also known as ‘Priapus The Pruner’, is it possible he had the snip?