Tintinnabulum in the Form of an Ithyphallic Gladiator

1st Century BC


The tintinnabulum, equipped with four little bells linked to four small chains, depicts a gladiator. He holds a dagger in one hand and a manica or arm-guard in the other. Portrayed with his arms raised and advancing, the gladiator fights against his own phallus which becomes a wild beast with a wide-open mouth, about to pounce on him. The ithyphallic tintinnabula had a heavily apotropaic value, stemming from the combination of the phallic symbol, bestower of good fortune and prosperity, with sound, which had always been used to ward off evil. They were sometimes used during sumptuous banquets to announce a new course; more frequently they were hung in private houses and especially in public buildings so that they chimed when visitors passed and warded off the evil eye.

Source: Naples National Archaeological Museum

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“Tintinnabulum” - Adiemus

I’ve owned this album, “Songs of Sanctuary”, for a while now, but for some reason, lately I can’t stop listening to it.  It’s just really getting in all the cluttered, dark, gross places in my head and sweeping it out.  Rearranging everything as I start to come out of the low period of the last few years.

Feast your eyes on Darwin’s barnacles!

This depiction of acorn barnacles (Megabalanus tintinnabulum) by George Brettingham Sowerby, comes from Charles Darwin’s massive four volume work A monograph on the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species, published just five years before his revolutionary book, On the Origin of Species (1859).

See this 45 other exquisite reproductions from 33 rare and beautifully illustrated scientific works in the exhibition, Opulent Oceans: Extraordinary Scientific Illustrations from the Museum’s Library, now open!