From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
The ex-voto anatomici are a series of terracotta sculptures (ex-votos of private parts: penises, a breast and, on the right, a womb) in a showcase in the Gabinetto Segreto (secret chamber) at the Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Naples. Found in a samnite sanctuary in the old town of Cales (Calvi Risorta).
They have item numbers 27768-27791, 21628-21665, the 27-series used to be in the Gabinetto Segreto.
At first glance these objects might be mistaken as coming from hypersexual people. But as Catherine Johns explains, these ex-votos are used to bring good luck. And the best of luck of course is fertility:
- "everyday sexual imagery ... are not primarily about sex, but about good luck. We know that a charm in the form of a shamrock does not allude to botany, nor does a horseshoe shaped one symbolize equestrian pursuits. The principle is the same, and the shocked and embarrassed response of Victorian scholars to Roman phallic objects missed the point." --Catherine Johns in Sex: An Intimate Companion