These 10 Truly Bizarre Beliefs From History Will Keep You Laughing All Night

Fascinus. Saladin Ahmed, on Twitter

Winged Penises Flew Around to Bless the Pious and Impregnate the Unwary

The Ancient Romans had a rich religious pantheon, that included over 200 gods. One of the lesser known ones today – although he was quite popular with contemporary Ancient Romans – was Fascinus, the winged penis god. Fascinus was literally all penis, taken to the nth degree of penis-hood: his body was an erect penis and testicles, sporting an erect penis, with a penis for a tail, and penises for legs. And he had wings, so he could fly around and spurt his blessings upon lucky mortals.

Fascinus was the god of masculine regenerative power, whose symbol was a phallus. He was believed to be lucky, so worshippers carried him around in the form of amulets or pendants hanging from their necks, just like pious Christians wear crosses around their necks today. Except that instead of a cross, Ancient Romans wore an erect penis dangling from their necks – it was a different culture, with different mores.

Fascinus, being a hard penis sporting multiple hard penises, was naturally constantly on the prowl, with a particular preference for sleeping women. Many Roman art motifs and tales revolve around sleeping maidens, usually getting some shuteye in bucolic settings, waking up to discover that Fascinus had flown between their legs to bless them.

The most famous Roman maiden supposedly impregnated by Fascinus was Ocrisia, the mother of Rome’s sixth king, Servius Tullius. Ocrisia was a foreign noblewoman captured in war, and made a slave in the household of Rome’s king Tarquinius. As the legend went, Ocrisia was a virgin, and one day, while performing the sacred rites of the Vestal Virgins, a disembodied winged penis flew in, and impregnated her. The result was Servius Tullius, who was raised in the royal household. Although a slave, he so impressed king Tarquinius that he eventually freed him and gave him his daughter’s hand in marriage. After the king’s death, he was succeeded on the throne by Servius, his son in law and son of the divine flying penis.

Fascinus’ name gave rise to the Latin verb “fascinare“, which means the power to use the Fascinus, entrance, or cast a spell, since the flying penis god was supposed to have such powers. Fascinus’ worship went into decline with the rise of Christianity, and eventually vanished, along with the rest of antiquity’s pagan pantheon. Nonetheless, a trace of Fascinus is still with us today: the etymology of the modern English word “fascinate” traces back to the Latin word “fascinare“, and the Ancient Roman flying penis god.