A DISCOURSE ON THE WORSHIP OF PRIAPUS: AND ITS CONNECTION WITH THE MYSTIC THEOLOGY OF THE ANCIENTS
This mode of representing the allegorical personages of religion with many heads and limbs to express their various attributes, and extensive operation, is now universal in the East,  and seems anciently not to have been unknown to the Greeks, at least if we may judge by the epithets used by Pindar and other early poets.  The union of two symbolical heads is common among the specimens of their art now extant, as may be seen upon the medals of Syracuse, Marseilles, and many other cities. Upon a gem of this sort in the collection of Mr. Townley, the same ideas which are expressed on the Indian pagoda by the distinct figures Brahma and Gonnis, are expressed by the united heads of Ammon and Minerva. Ammon, as before observed, was the Pan of the Greeks, and Minerva is here evidently the same as the Gonnis, being represented after the Indian manner, with the elephant's skin on her head, instead of a helmet.  Both these heads appear separate upon different medals of the Ptolemies,  under one of whom this gem was probably engraved, Alexandria having been for a long time the great centre of religions, as well as of trade and science.
Next to the figure of Brahma on the pagoda is the cow of plenty, or the female emblem of the generative or nutritive power of the earth; and at the other corner, next to the Gonnis, is the figure of a woman, with a head of the same conic or pyramidal form, and upon the front of it a flame of fire, from which hangs a crescent.  This seems to be the female personification of the divine attributes represented by the Gonnis or Pollear; for the Hindoos, like the Greeks, worship the deity under both sexes, though they do not attempt to unite both in one figure. I am the father and the mother of the world, says the incarnate god in the Bagvat Geeta.  Amongst cattle, adds he in a subsequent part, I am the cow Kamadhook. I am the prolific Kandarp, the god of love.  These two sentences, by being placed together, seem to imply some relation between this god of love and the cow Kamadhook; and, were we to read the words without punctuation, as they are in all ancient orthography, we should think the author placed the god of love amongst the cattle; which he would naturally do, if it were the custom of his religion to represent him by an animal symbol. Among the Egyptians, as before observed, the cow was the symbol of Venus, the goddess of love, and passive generative power of nature. On the capitals of one of the temples of Philæ we still find the heads of this goddess represented of a mixed form; the horns and ears of the cow being joined to the beautiful features of a woman in the prime of life;  such as the Greeks attributed to that Venus, whom they worshipped as the mother of the prolific god of love, Cupid, who was the personification of animal desire or concupiscence, as the Orphic love, the father of gods and men, was of universal attraction. The Greeks, who represented the mother under the form of a beautiful woman, naturally represented the son under the form of a beautiful boy; but a people who represented the mother under the form of a cow, would as naturally represent the son under the form of a calf. This seems to be the case with the Hindoos, as well as with the Egyptians; wherefore Kandarp may be very properly placed among the cattle.
PLATE 14: PORTABLE TEMPLE DEDICATED TO PRIAPUS OR THE LINGAM
By following this analogy, we may come to the true meaning of a much-celebrated object of devotion, recorded by another ancient writer, of a more venerable character. When the Israelites grew clamorous on account of the absence of Moses, and called upon Aaron to make them a god to go before them, he set up a golden calf; to which the people sacrificed and feasted, and then rose up (as the translator says) to play; but in the original the term is more specific, and means, in its plain direct sense, that particular sort of play which requires the concurrence of both sexes,  and which was therefore a very proper conclusion of a sacrifice to Cupid, though highly displeasing to the god who had brought them out of Egypt. The Egyptian mythologists, who appeared to have invented this secondary deity of love, were probably the inventors likewise of a secondary Priapus, who was the personification of that particular generative faculty, which springs from animal desire, as the primary Priapus was of the great generative principle of the universe. Hence, in the allegories of the poets, this deity is said to be a son of Bacchus and Venus; that is, the result of the active and passive generative powers of nature. The story of his being the son of a Grecian conqueror, and born at Lampsacus, seems to be a corruption of this allegory.
Of all the nations of antiquity the Persians were the most simple and direct in the worship of the creator. They were the puritans of the heathen world, and not only rejected all images of god or his agents, but also temples and altars, according to Herodotus,  whose authority I prefer to any other, because he had an opportunity of conversing with them before they had adopted any foreign superstitions.  As they worshipped the ætherial fire without any medium of personification or allegory, they thought it unworthy of the dignity of the god to be represented by any definite form, or circumscribed to any particular place. The universe was his temple, and the all-pervading element of fire his only symbol. The Greeks appear originally to have held similar opinions; for they were long without statues;  and Pausanias speaks of a temple at Sicyon, built by Adrastus,  who lived an age before the Trojan war; which consisted of columns only, without wall or roof, like the Celtic temples of our Northern ancestors, or the Pyrætheia  of the Persians, which were circles of stones, in the centre of which was kindled the sacren fire,  the symbol of the god. Homer frequently speaks of places of worship consisting of an area and altar only (τεμενοε Βωμος τε), which were probably inclosures like these of the Persians, with an altar in the centre. The temples dedicated to the creator Bacchus, which the Greek architects called hypaethral, seem to have been anciently of the same kind; whence probably came the title περικιονιον (surrounded with columns) attributed to that god in the Orphic litanies.  The remains of one of these are still extant at Puzzuoli near Naples, which the inhabitants call the Temple of Serapis: but the ornaments of grapes, vases, &c. found among the ruins, prove it to have been of Bacchus. Serapis was indeed the same deity worshipped under another form, being equally a personification of the sun.  The architecture is of the Roman times; but the ground plan is probably that of a very ancient one, which this was made to replace; for it exactly resembles that of a Celtic temple in Zeeland, published in Stukeley's itinerary.  The ranges of square buildings which inclose it are not properly parts of the temple, but apartments of the priests, places for victims and sacred utensils, and chapels dedicated to subordinate deities introduced by a more complicated and corrupt worship, and probably unknown to the founders of the original edifice.  The portico, which runs parallel with these buildings  inclosed the temenos, or area of sacred ground, which in the pyræthia of the Persians was circular, but is here quadrangular, as in the Celtic temple in Zeeland, and the Indian pagoda before described. In the centre was the holy of holies, the seat of the god, consisting of a circle of columns raised upon a basement, without roof or walls, in the middle of which was probably the sacred fire, or some other symbol of the deity.  The square area in which it stood, was sunk below the natural level of the ground,  and, like that of the little Indian pagoda, appears to have been occasionally floated with water, the drains and conduits being still to be seen,  as also several fragments of sculpture representing waves, serpents, and various aquatic animals, which once adorned the basement.  The Bacchus περικιονιος here worshipped, was, as we learn from the Orphic hymn above cited, the sun in his character of extinguisher of the fires which once pervaded the earth. This he was supposed to have done by exhaling the waters of the ocean, and scattering them over the land, which was thus supposed to have acquired its proper temperature and fertility. For this reason the sacred fire, the essential image of the god, was surrounded by the element which was principally employed in giving effect to the beneficial exertions of his great attribute.
PLATE 15: TEMPLE DEDICATED TO BACCHUS AT PUZZUOLI
These Orphic temples were, without doubt, emblems of that fundamental principle of the mystic faith of the ancients, the solar system; fire, the essence of the deity, occupying the place of the sun, and the columns surrounding it as the subordinate parts of the universe. Remains of the worship of fire continued among the Greeks even to the last, as appears from the sacred fires kept in the interior apartment, or holy of holies, of almost all their temples, and places of worship: and, though the Ammonian Platonics, the last professors of the ancient religion, endeavoured to conceive something beyond the reach of sense and perception, as the essence of their supreme god; yet, when they wanted to illustrate and explain the modes of action of this metaphysical abstraction, who was more subtle than intelligence itself, they do it by images and comparisons of light and fire. 
1. See Kæmpfer, Chappe D'Auteroche, Sonnerat, &c.
2. Such as ἕκατογκεφαλος, εκατοντακανος, εκατογχειρος, &c.
3. See Plate 13. Fig. 7.
4. See Plate 21. Fig. 6 and 6.
5. see Plate 12.
6. Page 80.
7. Page 86.
8. See Plate 18. Fig. 3.
9. Exod. xxxii.
10. Lib. i.
11. Hyde, Anquetil, and other modern writers, have given us the operose superstitions of the present Parsees for the simple theism of the ancient Persians.
12. Pauson, lib. vii. and ix.
13. Lib. ii.
14. Strab. lib. XV.
15. Hymn. 46.
16. Diodor. Sic. lib. i. Macrob. Sat. lib. i. c. 20.
17. See Plate 15, Fig. 1 and 2, and Plate 13. Fig. 4.
18. Plate 15. Fig. 2, a--a.
19. Plate 15. Fig. 2, b--b.
20. See Plate 15. Fig. 1, a, and Fig. 2, c.
21. See Plate 15. Fig. 1, b--b.
22. See Plate 15. Fig. 1 c--c.
23. See Plate 16. Fig. 1.
24. See Proclus. in Theol. Platon. lib. i. c. 19.