Images of cats from the British Museum collection, £9.99
Bronze statuette with two phalluses
Roman, about 1st century AD
This figure poses provocatively and sticks out his tongue. He was originally the main part of a tintinabulum or wind-chime and would have been hung from the loop on his back. There were probably further chains with more phallic ornaments and bells hanging from the rings in his two members. The feet are also pierced for attachments. The eyes may have been inlaid with semi-precious stones, and the hair and beard are indicated by short incisions as being close-cropped.
Amulets of a sexual nature were frequently found in Roman households. They seem to have been regarded as good luck charms, owing to their association with reproductive ability, rather than as erotica. They probably had a much greater significance than our four-leaf clover or black cat and the sound of the bells was believed to ward off evil spirits.