In Ancient Rome, the fascinus was the embodiment of the divine phallus. A Roman effigy or amulet in the shape of a penis is known as a fascinum. The English word “fascinate” derives from the Latin fascinum and the related verb fascinare, that is: “to enchant or bewitch using the power of the fascinus." In Ancient Rome it was believed that if a person cast a hostile look towards somebody else, the victim of this evil eye would be cursed - envy was thought to bring bad luck to the person envied. The humorous fascinus was believed to work as a medicus invidiae or a "doctor for envy” by making people laugh and thus preventing any jealous or malicious glances towards the person who wore or held it. The phallus is often winged or comically enlarged because the Ancient Romans considered exaggerated or strange images to be the most amusing - besides the fascinus, effigies of hunchbacked men or deformed women were also used to deflect the evil eye.
Graphic representations of the effect the fascinus had on the evil eye can be seen in many Ancient Roman artworks - one mosaic depicts a phallus ejaculating into a disembodied eye, and a 1st-century terracotta sculpture shows two phalluses with arms and legs working together to saw an eyeball in half.