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Forgotten Deities: Flaccidus, The Roman God of Engineers

Woodcut of rooster


Ancient woodcut of a rooster, the favored form of sacrifice to the Roman god, Flaccidus.

Flaccidus was a god revered during the time of the Roman Republic.

Flaccidus was a kind of angry god, but not in the Mars I’m-going-to-stab-you-with-a-spear way, but in a passive aggressive, I’m-going-to-make-your-spear-limp, kind of way. For example, if you had something that required stiffness, and Flaccidus didn’t look favorably on you, then something you would very much like to stay upright would droop at inopportune times.

Most engineers in the Roman construction industry were active worshipers of Flaccidus, and they would sacrifice to him weekly, because let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than having one of your erections fall flat. Not to mention the dangers of sinking bridges, droopy apartment buildings, and aqueducts that can’t keep it up. Naturally, our English word, flaccid, comes from this Latin root.

Interestingly, worship of Flaccidus waned in the early part of the Roman Empire, when a mystery cult devoted to a blue-faced Eastern god named Via Gara became quite popular.

Favorite form of sacrifice: a male chicken, still in the state of rigor mortis. The Romans thought that would work for some reason.

Original rooster image by Antaean at Flickr. Originally published May, 2011.

cover art of The Fridgularity and Marvellous Hairy, both by Mark A. Rayner

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