FASCINUS

An early Latin divinity, and identical with Mutinus or Tutinus. He was worshipped as the protector from sorcery, witchcraft, and evil daemons; and represented in the form of a phallus, the genuine Latin for which is fascinum, this symbol being believed to be most efficient in averting all evil influences. He was especially invoked to protect women in childbed and their offspring (Plin. Hist. Nat. xxviii. 4, 7); and women wrapt up in the toga praetexta used to offer up sacrifices in the chapel of Fascinus. (Paul. Diac. p. 103.) His worship was under the care of the Vestals; and generals, who entered the city in triumph, had the symbol of Fascinus fastened under their chariot, that he might protect them from envy (medicus invidiae), for envy was believed to exercise an injurious influence on those who were envied. (Plin. l. c.) It was a custom with the Romans, when they praised any body, to add the word praefiscine or praefiscini, which seems to have been an invocation of Fascinus, to prevent the praise turning out injurious to the person on whom it was bestowed.