Tuesday, 29 April 2008

68 Vincent Square

The ramshackle old buildings of the old Rochester Row police station have been replaced by brand-new ramshackle buildings designed by neo-Classicist architect John Simpson, and in front is an intriguing image of the god Priapus by Alexander Stoddart.

It is in the form of a herma, a rectangular block with the head of the god on top. In ancient Greece, hermae usually represented the god Hermes, and had the god's genitals carved on it low down where passers-by could stroke them for luck. Whether the luck was with the passer-by or the god is not recorded.

The Priapus herma, and the associated two large bronze roundels with the heads of Thyrsis and Corydon, illustrate a section of Virgil's Eclogue VII.

Unfortunately, Westminster planning department declined to allow the artist to provide Priapus with his endowments, so he is represented as the god of gardening, complete with garden shears. "Now we have raised thee Priapus of bronze, such as the times admit" reads the inscription.
Stoddart's drawing is from his website. My picture was taken at totally the wrong time of day. Next time I pass in the morning I will try and get a better photo.


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Hazel said...

I was walking through Vincent Square yesterday morning when I noticed this Satyr grinning at me from across the road. Though sadly lacking he still seems far from impotent and a wonderful and unexpected presence in this lovely square.

liz said...

thanks for this post! was walking past Vincent square in the dark and couldn't fathom who would behind holding garden shears and mini cymbals