Verulamium representation of the goddess Venus, with cloak knotted about loins and streaming out behind. Apple or pomegranate held in l. hand. Hair gathered into two
bows. Thumb of r. hand restored.

Did you know… some Roman gods and goddesses exhibited gender fluidity.
As well as experiencing the same desires as mortals, gods and goddesses could also exhibit gender fluidity. Macrobius, a prolific Roman writer and commentator, describes a masculine statue of "Venus" in Cyprus. In this version of Venus, she had a beard (and male genitals) and male physicality, but wore women's clothing and presented as female. Venus’ duo-gender was not hidden but celebrated.
Indeed, the deity's worshippers would also wear the clothes of the opposite gender, with men wearing women's clothes, and women men's. The Latin poet Laevius wrote of worshipping this "nurturing Venus" whether female or male.
There are several surviving examples of Venus sculptures where the goddess pulls up her garments to reveal her male genitalia, a gesture that traditionally held apotropaic (a type of magic intended to turn away harm or evil influences, deflecting misfortune or averting the evil eye) or magical power.
(Based on research completed by Stephanie Eastoe, 2017)
Venus figurine
Production Date
0080 AD-0199 AD
Height: 20cm
Accession No

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