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  • Gregory of Nyssa on Virginity, Gardens, and the Enclosure of the Παράδεισος

The custom of calling an ascetic—particularly a virgin woman—a "garden enclosed" is well attested in early Christian literature. When analyzing the sources that employ the expression, scholars regularly remark on the meaning evoked from Song of Songs, the biblical intertext whence the phrase derives. In this study, I consider other meanings that would have been elicited by the expression, specifically those associated with material garden spaces. Focusing exclusively on Gregory of Nyssa's On Virginity, in which Gregory positions the virgin at the enclosure of the παράδεισος, the garden paradise, I suggest that Gregory capitalized on common views about the supernatural flourishing and everlasting bounty of gardens in order to amplify his notion of virginity, as well as his notion of the Christian garden paradise, as a limit or boundary to corruption and death. I further argue that Gregory stationed the Christian virgin in this location as a replacement of the conventional garden guardian, Priapus. This juxtaposition pit asexuality against hypersexuality and highlighted virginity's role in admitting outsiders into the utopic space over against Priapus's role of restricting access. Finally, I demonstrate how Gregory's allusions to gardens played on readers' existing desires and aversions, adding emotional appeal to his argument.

Early Christian authors made ample use of the "garden enclosed" idiom of Song of Songs 4, wherein the author describes his lover as or in a garden: "A garden enclosed is my sister, my bride; a garden enclosed, a fountain sealed."1 Some early Christians used the expression to imagine the [End Page 99] church as a safe haven cut off from pagans and heretics, and nourished by an abundant supply of sacramental fruit and water.2 Others used the expression to imagine the early Christian ascetic whose enclosed body, soul, and piety served as an unassailable protection for her sanctity.3 When studying the "garden enclosed" idiom in early Christian sources, scholars regularly cite the biblical intertext whence the expression derives, yet we have not paid sufficient attention to how the expression would have elicited meaning associated with garden spaces. We have been too quick to abstract meaning away from the material context in which the expression was employed. As such, I suggest, we do not fully understand layers of meaning that would have been elicited by "garden enclosed" allegories, metaphors, and images.

To demonstrate the fruitfulness of attending to material garden spaces, I analyze one text, Gregory of Nyssa's On Virginity. I investigate how, for this author, the expression of a virgin as or at the enclosure of the garden paradise leveraged features of garden spaces—as well as values, desires, and critiques related thereto—in order to enhance his theological argument and add emotional appeal.4 When we read On Virginity with ancient Mediterranean gardens in mind, we see how Gregory capitalizes on widespread views of gardens as he paints a picture of Christianity's garden paradise as a space characterized by supernatural flourishing and everlasting bounty. These views of cultivated gardens underwrite Gregory's argument that virginity, as well as the Christian eschaton, serves as a limit or boundary to corruption and death. Additionally, we become more attuned to the location in which Gregory positions the virgin: at the enclosure—specifically at the door—of the garden paradise. By situating virginity here Gregory replaces the hypersexual demigod Priapus, who was customarily perched at the gates of Roman gardens, with Christian asexuality. Whereas Priapus's [End Page 100] task was to police and restrict access to the space, Gregory's virginity welcomes those who were ordinarily excluded.5 In the sections that follow, I discuss Gregory's vision of the garden utopia, the significance of the enclosure surrounding the garden and the figure regulating access to the garden, and how these elements tie into the treatise's central arguments.


The thrust of Gregory's argument in chapters 11–14 centers on the nature of virginity and virginity's role in providing access to the eternal garden paradise (παράδεισος).6 Virginity, Gregory argues, solves a problem introduced by the Fall. Whereas humans were created in the image of God, thus in an incorruptible state,7 after the Fall humans "no longer [retained] the image of the incorruptible God [and became] covered through sin with a corruptible and slimy form."8 Thus, Gregory reasons, humans cannot be granted access back into the paradise garden—now imagined in terms of the paradisiacal afterlife—until they have shed the corruptibility that [End Page 101] now sullies them and separates them from the incorruptible God.9 "The only way for the soul to be attached to the incorruptible God," Gregory contends, "is for it to make itself as pure as it can . . . reflecting as the mirror does, when it submits itself to the purity of god, it will be formed according to its participation in and reflection of the prototypal beauty."10

For Gregory, a restoration of one's incorruptibility can be accomplished through a combination of "human effort" and a divine gift of being "created anew."11 In terms of the former, humans must "retrace their steps," renouncing the behaviors they adopted after the Fall and returning to the lifestyle of the garden of Eden.12 In particular, the "point of departure from the life in paradise was the married state," which now must be renounced.13 Yet how does the renunciation of marriage, sexuality, and childbearing restore one's incorruptibility? At this point in the argument, readers would recall the discussion that opened the treatise. There Gregory explains that the nature of virgins is akin to the nature of the divine in terms of this one shared feature.

[Virginity] alone is honored by the title "the incorruptible" (μόνον τοῦτο τῇ ἐπωνυμίᾳ τοῦ ἀφθάρτου τετίμηται) . . . achieving this revered virginity means becoming blameless and holy, the words used properly and primarily in praise of the incorruptible (ἀφθάρτου) God. What greater praise of virginity is there than its being proved that in some way those who have a share in the pure mysteries of virginity become themselves partakers of the glory of God . . . since they participate in his purity and incorruptibility


In short, virginity is synonymous with incorruptibility15 and human virgins can be identified with the divine because of this shared quality.16 Virginity's [End Page 102] participation in God's incorruptibility enables virgins to "look freely upon the face of God,"17 and virginity serves as "a kind of binding force in humans' affinity to God . . . mediat[ing] things opposed to each other by nature."18

As a counterpoint to the incorruption of virginity, Gregory explains how married people are propagating corruption and death. Although parents mistakenly believe that having children perpetuates life, childbirth rather is the starting point of corruption and death in that mortal bodies provide material for corruption and childbirth ultimately furnishes death with new victims.19 Whereas those engaged in marriage, sexuality, and childbirth are complicit in the persistence of corruption and death in the world, virgins who renounce sexual activity and childbirth diminish the power of corruption and death.20 Giulia Sfameni Gasparro succinctly summarizes Gregory's point: virginity "posed an insuperable limit to death, it broke the generation-corruption cycle which was initiated by sexual activity," illuminating the "vast difference between the fallen human being and the perfect quality contained in the notion of 'image.'"21 Virgins have, in Gregory's words, "drawn in themselves a limit to death, through themselves, preventing it from advancing further, having established themselves as a kind of border between life and death . . . ." Death is "kept shut out" as if by a wall or boundary stone.22 [End Page 103]

Given that the paradise garden is a place that admits only "living beings" who share the qualities of God's nature—"incorruptible, life-giving, and immortal"23—Gregory urges his readers to "separate [them]selves from the life in the flesh which death normally follows upon" and pursue a "manner of life that does not have death as its consequence. This is the life of virginity."24 If all humans would remain celibate, Gregory wishes, death would "come to an end and cease to be."25 But, until this happens, virginity serves as the mediator: "virginity is the sponsor of [the paradisiacal] experience"26 because virginity serves as "a kind of door or entrance into a nobler state."27 In their incorruptibility, virgins are for Gregory both "an image of the blessedness that is to come" in the garden paradise and the means by which all others will be afforded access into the garden paradise.28

Throughout this section, Gregory consistently frames the incorruptible state to which humans aspire in terms of the παράδεισος, a Greek loan word from Persian, meaning "enclosed garden." Furthermore he peppers his argument with horticultural terms and imagery, speaking of the "fruit of virginity"; withholding from death his "harvest"; and how virgins will "reap the choicest goods."29 I propose that Gregory is doing more than merely employing horticultural imagery as rhetorical flourish. The image of the garden is tied to the theological points Gregory is making. In particular, Gregory's argument culls conceptual and affective connections between gardens and utopias—specifically related to the hypernatural bounty cultivated within "enclosed" spaces—and associations with the figure regularly stationed at the entrance of Roman garden enclosures, the hypersexual demigod Priapus. It is to these associations that we will now turn.


In this section, I explore the importance of the garden enclosure in contributing to the conditions of supernatural flourishing within the garden and in conceptually demarcating garden spaces as distinct from ordinary nature. [End Page 104] I then explain how Gregory leverages these associations with gardens. First, a brief sketch of gardens in the ancient Mediterranean is in order.

Gardens in the Ancient Mediterranean

As noted above, the term Gregory employs throughout his treatise to refer to the garden paradise is παράδεισος, a loan word that in Persian referred to expansive gardens and game parks that surrounded a royal palace. Xenophon and Plutarch report that these spaces—located in Persian capital cities and throughout Persian territories in Asia Minor—were used for royal hunts, as well as for cultivating a wide range of species of trees and plants. These were spaces in which to enjoy royal pursuits and to display royal prestige.30

When the term—and the practice of cultivating horticultural spaces—traveled westward in the Hellenistic period, παράδεισος narrowed to designate a garden, orchard, or vineyard large enough to be enclosed, dropping any association with animal parks. Our sources attest a number of grand royal gardens in the Greek East and Latin West, but also smaller-scale gardens located in proximity to a house, tavern, burial complex, school, or sacred site.31 In the countryside, villas were regularly encircled by both horticultural and agricultural spaces.32 Within cities, most domestic gardens—often referred to as "kitchen gardens"—were located in the rear of the house or the courtyard (for plans, see fig. 1).33 These gardens seemed to have been largely instrumental, producing food—"greens" (herbs and vegetables) and fruit—as well as medicine,34 though the sights and smells of flowers and fruit were also regarded as pleasant and restorative to the body and spirit.35 [End Page 105]

Figure 1. Plans designating typical locations of gardens associated with a Roman domus. <br/><br/>Courtesy of Linda Farrar.
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Figure 1.

Plans designating typical locations of gardens associated with a Roman domus.

Courtesy of Linda Farrar.

By the late Republic in Roman lands, prominent aristocrats (e.g., Pompey, Sallust, Lucullus, Maecenus) and emperors began to build expansive gardens at a rapid pace,36 seeing these spaces as sites through which to [End Page 106] display power and status,37 as well as to display Roman superiority.38 These elaborate gardens, which occupied vast expanses of cities (e.g., Rome, see fig. 2), came to be known as "pleasure gardens" because they were primarily leisure spaces that replaced edible vegetation with ornamental plantings. For this reason, they were highly controversial (as discussed

Figure 2. Aristocratic gardens of Rome. Map by Sebastian Ballard, based on Lanciani excavation of Rome plan.
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Figure 2.

Aristocratic gardens of Rome. Map by Sebastian Ballard, based on Lanciani excavation of Rome plan.

[End Page 107] further below). Thus, some aristocrats, especially Roman emperors, wary of such criticism and hoping to win praise for their beneficence, eventually converted their private pleasure gardens into publicly accessible parks.39

At this point we should pause to understand the importance of the garden enclosure. From Persia to Egypt, from Rome to Greece, a cultivated space would not be regarded a proper garden without an enclosure: a boundary that encircled the garden space.40 As garden historians explain, the primacy of the enclosure is evident in garden terms across languages: from the Persian pairidaeza (derived from pairi [around] and daeza [wall])41 to the Greek ἕρκος and Latin maceria, these barrier terms were used as shorthand references to gardens.42 Whether the garden was encircled by a stone or brick wall (sometimes topped with sharp fragments from broken amphorae) or a thick, thorny hedge,43 the practical purpose was the same: to serve as a barrier to access, keeping out animals and humans who did not belong.44 [End Page 108]

Yet, the enclosure likewise obscured the labor involved in cultivating the space, producing the impression that it was naturally endowed with special fecundity. As we know from agricultural sources, gardeners employed a variety of techniques to control the climate within the garden space to be most conducive to the flourishing of the plants and trees.45 For instance, gardeners carefully cultivated trees, shrubs, and climbing vines to create shade that lowered temperatures. They built arcades that provided shelter from the sun during hotter times of the year and that retained the heat of the sun in colder seasons.46 They set up complicated systems of interior walls,47 plantings, and open and shut gates and windows to channel the winds.48 Finally, they devised pruning and irrigation techniques that further moderated the microclimate of the space.49

As a result of these techniques, garden climates—temperature, water, wind, etc.—remained steady and the garden plantings thrived.50 Trees grew taller and produced more fruits than in uncultivated nature. Impervious to seasonal changes, fruit and "greens" could be harvested year-round, even during the full heat of the summer or in the winter months when everything outside the garden was either scorched or covered in frost, ice, and snow.51 In garden spaces, Seneca writes, "the passage of the year does not bring its normal changes."52 Artistic representations, such as the garden frescoes in the House of Livia, likewise depict gardens in which plants and trees bloom and fruit together even though, in ordinary circumstances, they would have flourished at different times of the year.53 In short, there [End Page 109] was a widespread belief that gardens were special places notable for their hyperflourishing, for their bountiful produce, and for being immune from the ordinary processes of time, nature, and most importantly, death.54

As the garden enclosure obscured gardeners' efforts to create hyperflourishing conditions, so too the enclosure accentuated the alterity of the space by serving as a border that divided ordinary and extraordinary nature. As Rhianna Evans succinctly puts it, the enclosure reminded viewers that gardens were "cut off from the orbis terrarum."55 In fact, the enclosure may have been more significant as a conceptual boundary than as a physical barrier given that, as Kathryn Gleason observes, the "fragile woven reed fences" and young hedges that sometimes served as garden enclosures would hardly have kept out many intruders.56

Garden Utopias

Given the prevailing view that gardens were hyperproductive spaces, it is no wonder that across the ancient Mediterranean utopias were consistently imagined as gardens, described as places characterized by favorable conditions, everlasting abundance and bounty, and thus regarded as divinely protected and sacred.57 In fact, the ways utopias are described in terms of their interruption of nature or their supernatural states mirrors precisely contemporaneous descriptions of gardens. For instance, Plutarch depicts the Fortunate Isle as a place where the inhabitants "enjoy moderate rains and soft precipitate dews, where the winds were never extreme, where the soil was rich—excellent for plowing and planting—but also a place that produces plentiful fruit naturally . . . without the toil of the inhabitants who enjoy leisure. Moreover, there the air is salubrious, owing to the climate and the moderate changes in the seasons."58 Similarly, Pliny describes the mythic Hyperborea as a place with a "productive climate" and a land so fertile that the inhabitants reportedly "sow in the morning periods, reap at midday, [and] pluck the fruit from the trees at sunset."59 Flourishing relates not only to the produce of the land, but in such climes [End Page 110] the people too thrive, living into "extreme old age." They do not die naturally, "owing to the satiety of life."60

Early Christians likewise made such associations between gardens—specifically the Garden of Eden—and the eschatological paradise,61 and again we find the same salient feature of supernatural flourishing. Papias, for instance, describes heaven as a place where produce is abundant because of the exceedingly fertile soil and superb irrigation (i.e., divine "dew").

When vines come forth, each with ten thousand boughs, on a single bough will be ten thousand branches. And, indeed, on a single branch will be ten thousand shoots and on every shoot ten thousand clusters; and in every cluster will be ten thousand grapes, and every grape, when pressed, will yield twenty-five measures of wine . . . so too a grain of wheat will produce ten thousand heads and every head will have ten thousand grains and every grain will yield ten pounds of pure, exceptionally fine flour. So too the remaining fruits and seeds and vegetation will produce in similar proportion.62

Similarly, as Blake Leyerle has expertly analyzed, John Chrysostom's vision of the natural world in the Garden of Eden is "characterized chiefly by superlative abundance . . . [a] remarkable productivity of the earth [that comes], not from the toil of farmers, but from God."63 Chrysostom marvels: "Consider, after all, how great a thrill it was to see the trees groaning under the weight of their fruit, to see the variety of the flowers, the different kinds of plants, the leaves on the branches, and all the other things you would likely to chance upon in a garden, especially a garden planted by God."64 [End Page 111]

Why do we find textual (as well as artistic65) evidence across the Mediterranean of utopic spaces imagined with the same features as gardens? Utopia theorists, like Ruth Levitas, explain that features of utopias are consistently drawn from the gap between a society's needs and the satisfaction of those needs. The utopia, she concludes, is envisioned as a manifestation of the desire to close the gap.66 Diana Spencer and Rhianna Evans concur that utopias are "loci where a society's unfulfilled desires cluster."67 In a world regularly stricken by famine, we can understand how a utopia characterized by the hypernatural flourishing of fruits and greens was generated from ancients' desire for plenty and abundance and a desire not to be at the mercy of the seemingly fickle elements of their environs.

Yet, social psychologists further explain that aspirational desire is produced from restrictions. As these scholars tell us, boundaries—and, more importantly, the restricted access created by boundaries—heighten outsiders' estimation of the space to which they are prohibited and, in turn, heighten their desire to enter the space.68 Thus the garden enclosure contributed to the allure of the space both by demarcating ordinary nature from supernatural flourishing, as well as by restricting access. We come to see how the superabundant features associated with gardens, as well as the desire attached to these spaces, elevated them in the minds of readers to the point where they became broadly synonymous with utopia.

Gregory's Garden, Incorruptibility, and Life

Returning to Gregory's On Virginity with an understanding of ancient garden spaces, as well as the associations, values, and desire related thereto, we see new layers of his argument. First and foremost, we are alerted to the fact that Gregory was imagining a utopic paradise that took the form [End Page 112] of a garden. It is unfortunate that the term he uses throughout the treatise, παράδεισος, is consistently translated into English—and, even in the scholarship that engages the original language, taken to mean—merely "paradise," obscuring the term's more specific associations with a garden paradise.69

Once we share Gregory's image of this kind of physical space, we can see how his discussion of true life, as well as corruption and death, calls to mind associations with hyperflourishing garden utopias. Let us recall that Gregory is attempting to disabuse readers of their mistaken thinking about what constitutes life. Life, Gregory insists, does not derive from "the bodily union" that produces children; rather this kind of ordinary life is corruptible and susceptible to death. True life, Gregory insists, is better represented by virginity, which places a limit to death ("preventing [death] from advancing further, having established themselves as a kind of border between life and death"70). Virgins are examples of those who have already begun to "separate [them]selves from the life in the flesh which death normally follows upon,"71 choosing a preferable form of life "because it is stronger than the power of death."72

Gregory's characterization of virginity's incorruptibility—a state that enables virgins to reside in the incorruptible garden paradise—lines up with views about incorruptible garden spaces in that they are notable and exceptional precisely because of their power over death.73 By imagining virginity and the heavenly paradise through garden imagery, Gregory structures the juxtaposition of ordinary and extraordinary nature with a proper understanding of life and true life. Just as nature outside the walls of a garden is proven deficient when compared against the abundance produced within, so too the production of life on earth pales in comparison to the true life that is characteristic of virginity and found inside the παράδεισος. [End Page 113] Whereas the former is partial and corruptible, the latter is revealed to be everlasting because incorruptible.74

Taking a cue from scholars of utopias, we also discern how Gregory's vision of the παράδεισος—made through the image of the garden—would have been especially appealing to his readers. (And from the opening lines of the treatise, it is clear that this was precisely Gregory's aim: "The aim of this discourse is to create in the reader a desire for the life of virtue."75) This imagery exploited readers' desire for produce that was not corruptible, but instead bountiful and everlasting, a desire that would have been particularly acute to those of central Anatolia who had experienced a famine a year or two before Gregory's text was written.76 Further, as we learned from social psychological literature, Gregory's image taps into desire elicited by boundaries and restricted access. It is improbable that most of Gregory's readers would have possessed gardens themselves, so Gregory's image of a garden paradise likely triggered an already potent attraction to spaces from which they were excluded.77


Gregory stations the Christian virgin at the boundary of the παράδεισος because virginity embodies the limit to death and embodies the incorruptibility that characterizes the garden paradise. Yet, more specifically, Gregory positions virginity as "a kind of door or entrance into a nobler state."78 In this section, I suggest that Gregory sets up the Christian virgin in contrast to another figure regularly located at the door or gate of enclosed gardens: Priapus.79 Priapus, with his oversized and permanently [End Page 114] erect penis, policed the garden, threatening sexual violence against anyone who dared trespass.80 Gregory's virgin stood in direct contrast to Priapus in that her power derived not from her threatening hypersexuality, but rather from her asexuality. Moreover, rather than functioning as a gatekeeper who restricts entry, the virgin facilitated access into the garden paradise.

Priapus as Garden Guardian

In gardens across the Roman territories, a fence or wall alone was insufficient to maintain an impenetrable barrier to keep out the human and animal thieves who plundered the produce within. While the wealthiest garden owners hired watchmen, some with guard dogs, to ward off intruders,81 most garden owners settled for the cheaper option of erecting a simple wooden statue of Priapus to protect the space.82 Although occasionally perched in the middle of the garden,83 the statues were more [End Page 115] often placed on the exterior of the garden wall, near the entrance gate,84 where the god could be a visible reminder to would-be trespassers that he was active in the space.85

The god's threats were inscribed on the statue's pedestal or on a wall adjacent to the statue.86 While only a handful of these inscriptions survive in stone,87 extant anthologies of Greek and Latin priapea purport to be collections of these inscriptions (as well as of dedicatory graffiti at the god's shrines).88 Given their literary quality, scholars agree that most of the epigrams are more likely poetic imitations.89 Yet the commonplace elements of the genre—notably, the god's role as garden guardian and the nature of threats he made to trespassers—lead scholars to presume these were representative features of the inscriptions.90

From these epigrams, we find that Priapus's weapon of choice was his penis. In Carmina Priapea (hereafter CP) 11, for instance, the god warns: [End Page 116]

Watch out I don't catch thee! I'll not use my stick,Nor will my curved sickle thee savagely nick.But when I thrust up thee my foot-wide pole,Stretched without wrinkle will be thine asshole.91

His threats of violence, whether vaginal, oral, or anal rape,92 are trained on those who intend to steal the produce he has been commissioned to protect.93 As we see in the Greek Anthology, the produce of the garden even figures into Priapus's threats as he plays on the double meaning of ἰσχάς and ficus,94 punishing those who stole figs with anal rape:


It is ripe.


I know that myself as well as you, traveler. Stop praising the fig and keep your eyes off the branch near you. I, Priapus, the warden, am very sharp-eyed, and keep proper watch over the figs. If you even touch a fig, you shall give me [your] fig, for equality in all things is most just.95

Priapus's threats could be excessively brutal. Several epigrams stress the force and violence of Priapus's penetrating punishments: "This staff [phallus] . . . will get buried in the internal organs of any thief as far as my pubic hairline and testicles"96 and "I'll bury [my penis]—as vast and tense as the string of a catapult or lute—inside you deep, up to your seventh rib."97 Other epigrams describe the state thieves will be in after the attack: "This watchman, full of desire, will go in and out of your back door until you can't stand anymore."98 For the illiterate, the statues themselves—which [End Page 117] depicted a god with an oversized, permanently erect phallus—made these threats clear without need of the ancillary inscriptions (see figs. 35).99

Gregory does not mention Priapus by name, but there are several reasons to think he had Priapus in mind and that his treatise would have prompted readers to make the comparison between Priapus and Christian virginity. First, Gregory stations virginity at the enclosure or door of the παράδεισος, the same location where Priapus was often found.100 Second, in this section Gregory consistently speaks of virginity as an abstracted state or concept,101 unlike the rest of the treatise where Gregory vacillates between praising individuals who have vowed virginity and the lifestyle of virginity. The entity stationed at the entrance of the παράδεισος is virginity personified. Comparable to the personification and deification of Greek and Roman virtues,102 Gregory's language lends virginity a quasi-mythological status that could have elicited in readers a more ready comparison with the demigod Priapus.103 Third, by the time we encounter virginity at the entrance of the παράδεισος Gregory has also primed his readers to be thinking of heaven in terms of gardens (speaking of fruit, harvests, and the choicest goods of the παράδεισος104), while also imagining the protection of one's soul or one's virtue in terms of the vigilance of guard dogs and the fortification of garden walls. Virtuous Christians, he writes, should strive to "secure [their lifestyle] in every respect," protecting the good "from all sides."105 To do so, Gregory concludes, they must erect a "large and strong fortification"106—specifically an "immovable wall"107—in order to cut off themselves from worldly matters that arouse the passions. Not only ought the Christian erect this "boundary,"108 but she ought to "be on guard,"109 [End Page 118] protecting the purity of the soul with the same ferocity of "dogs guarding gates . . . against the thief or enemy who . . . comes to steal, to storm, and to destroy."110 With a flurry of garden imagery already in the audience's mind, it would be a short stretch to conjure Priapus when Gregory envisions virginity at the entrance of the παράδεισος. Finally, throughout On Virginity Gregory conditions readers to be thinking in terms of contrasts. In the opening of the treatise, Gregory explains that his eulogy of virginity will require a discussion of marriage "because the excellence of [one] thing somehow becomes necessarily more obvious through contrast"111 and he reiterates the usefulness of contrast a few chapters later.112 Readers already conditioned to be switching between contrasts may not need Priapus to be explicitly named for him to be elicited in reader's minds when they encounter virginity at the entrance of the παράδεισος.

In the Weeds: Leveraging the Ridicule of Priapus

Gregory's juxtaposition of Priapus with Christian virginity trades the former's threatening hypersexuality and violent exclusion from the space with the virgin's incorruptible and life-giving asexuality that grants access to the space. Yet, I contend, Gregory is not merely juxtaposing contrasting figures. I believe he is also mobilizing contemporaneous mockery and ridicule of Priapus in order to elevate his παράδεισος gatekeeper.

Although before the late Republic gardens were associated with gardeners' industry, with the blessing of produce, and with rational deliberation that took place in philosophical gardens, by the early Imperial period, as the "pleasure gardens" of aristocrats and emperors expanded at a rapid pace, the ideological significance of gardens changed and these expansive gardens became the targets of increased criticism.113 This criticism surfaced a number of issues—from violation of property rights to the shift from fruitfulness to mere ornamentation to the ignoble pursuits taking place in these spaces—that may be relevant to Gregory's argument.114 [End Page 119]

Elites wishing to cultivate expansive pleasure gardens often did so at the expense of others. The garden of Maecenas on the Esquiline—which coopted the site of a paupers' graveyard—may be the most famous example of a land grab, but we also know of complaints against aristocrats who encroached upon the land of neighbors: enclosing natural groves so that they became inaccessible to the public, diverting water sources to serve only their household gardens, and erecting garden walls that stole light from neighbors.115

Aristocrats' pleasure gardens were also accused of perverting nature when they swapped out plantings that produced fruits and vegetables for those that were largely ornamental, conducive to leisure more so than agriculture.116 These gardens were also blamed for acting "contrary to nature" when their gardens were over-manipulated, such as when rivers were rerouted to create islands and waterfalls, when plants hung down from the sky (rather than growing up from the ground), and when gardens were planted on rooftops.117 (Note that such accusations were not leveled against gardeners whose manipulations of nature resulted in superabundant gardens.) When replacing productive spaces with pleasure gardens, aristocrats were also criticized for shrinking the food supply, leading to food shortages and inflated food prices, which, in turn, had an effect on the overall economy.118

Finally, pleasure gardens were also criticized for activating the ignobility of their owners. The otium sought in an aristocratic garden easily devolved to luxuria, critics charged, making visible pleasure garden owners' tendencies toward idleness and laziness. Instead of using the space to rest so they could return to the political domain revitalized, some aristocrats [End Page 120] were accused of hiding out in their gardens in order to avoid their public responsibilities or of using the seclusion of garden spaces to conceal political corruption.119 Still more, aristocrats were blamed for using their gardens to cloak illicit sexual encounters.120 In fact, when debauched and illicit sexual activity—including adultery and rape—took place in gardens, the bushes and trees that concealed the encounters were charged as accomplices to the crime.121

As noted above, some aristocrats defended themselves against such attacks by donating their gardens to the public. Another common tactic, thoroughly analyzed by James Uden, was to import Priapus from the countryside, placing him as guardian over their gardens. This move was a strategy to impute the virtues characteristic of the idyllic countryside onto controversial urban gardens.122 The countryside traditions of Priapus to which pleasure garden owners appealed culled ideals of pastoral thrift, [End Page 121] toil, and self-sufficiency.123 In the countryside, Uden observes, Priapus was represented as the guardian of a modest amount of "greens," "suggesting the extreme parsimony of the farmer's lifestyle."124 Moreover, Uden continues, people in the countryside were consistent in their offerings to the god, demonstrating "rural piety."125 Further, in the countryside, Priapus was depicted positively as "watchful" and "trusty,"126 and regarded as the beneficent and industrious fertility god.127

Although urban aristocrats hoped to lay claim to these virtues of the countryside by importing Priapus, this strategy failed miserably as critics simply incorporated a mockery of Priapus into their criticisms of aristocratic gardens and garden owners. Thus, we see a shift in the reputation of the demigod as he became associated with aristocratic pleasure gardens. Once regarded as a powerful god who protected gardens, Priapus became an object of ridicule for his ironic impotence.128 The god becomes depicted as helpless against the dogs who lick his fearsome phallus129 or the dogs [End Page 122] and swine who "rub against" the statue to pleasure themselves.130 He is described grumbling about the cold, wet weather131 and fearing the possibility of being consumed by fire.132 Finally, he is regularly made to voice concerns about the vulnerability of his distinguishing feature, which in one epigram is snapped off by a watchman to use as a club.133 Ultimately, Priapus is revealed not to be a fear-provoking god, but merely an immobile, perishable wooden statue so useless that aristocratic garden owners were forced to hire real watchmen to police their gardens.134

The illicit sexuality associated with aristocratic pleasure gardens likewise attached to the depiction of Priapus. Whereas in the countryside Priapus's sexuality was focused on violence against thieves, in the city the demigod is willing to turn a blind eye to garden thievery in exchange for sexual favors. His hypersexuality no longer serves the useful purpose of protecting his master's produce, but now serves the god's sexual urges at the garden owner's expense. For instance, in CP 5 and 38, we see Priapus engaged in negotiations: "What my garden holds you may freely enjoy if what you contain you give me"; and "You'd like some apples? I want your back way. Give me what I see; you take what you want."135 Finally, in another epigram Priapus becomes indignant at a garden owner who builds a fence that keeps out thieves and reduces the frequency with which the god can satisfy his insatiable sexual appetite.136

In other poems, Priapus becomes a victim of the sexual improprieties thought to be concealed in pleasure gardens. Here he is depicted as unsuccessfully driving away sexual deviants who came to make use of his mentula. Priapus laments:

O Citizens, Romans, I pray you please,There must be a limit—I'm brought to my knees;For passionate women from hereaboutImportune me nightly and tire me out. [End Page 123]

. . . See how with fucking I'm pallid and grey!I used to be hale and lusty and strong,And able to deal with the thieves that did wrong;But now I am in a most dangerous stateAnd shudder and cough and expectorate.137

Even though there is no produce to steal from these fruitless pleasure gardens, men and women flock to them under the pretense of thieving in order to endure the god's so-called punishment.

A soft smooth queer comes here to stealBecause he badly wants to feelThe punishment he knows appliesTo garden thieves. I'll close my eyes!138

Whether Priapus is represented as a willing participant or a helpless victim, in later epigrams he becomes implicated in the sexual immorality associated with aristocratic pleasure gardens.

In the later strata of priapea we also find the Priapus of urban pleasure gardens becoming the subject of ridicule and mockery by passers-by and intruders. A young girl laughs at him and "regards [his phallus] as a joke" (the god defends himself even while he acknowledges that his phallus was rudely carved by a farm-steward rather than by a true artist).139 Elsewhere, the god acknowledges his actual impotence when a thief calls his bluff:

Shamelessly, thief, you laugh and mock.And with your fingers a snook you cock,For though it looks fierce, you know it's no good:Alas, woe is me, it's only of wood . . . .140

Perhaps the most famous mockery of Priapus is found in Horace's Satire 1.8, wherein the statue witnesses the transformation of a paupers' graveyard on the Esquiline into the expansive garden of Maecenas. During this transition period, when witches still trolled the space to pilfer bones and herbs for their potions, Horace reports that the god was impotent to drive them away. It was not until the god accidentally farted—his "fig-wood buttock split," producing a deafening sound—that the witches scampered off.141 [End Page 124]

Figure 3. Terra cotta Priapus figurine, circa 2nd c. Ephesus Archaeological Museum. <br/><br/>Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Jennifer Calonge.
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Figure 3.

Terra cotta Priapus figurine, circa 2nd c. c.e. Ephesus Archaeological Museum.

Photograph courtesy of Charlotte Jennifer Calonge.

Figure 4. Copper alloy Priapus figurine, circa 1st–5th c. Colchester and Ipswich Museum. <br/><br/>Photograph courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service.
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Figure 4.

Copper alloy Priapus figurine, circa 1st–5th c. c.e. Colchester and Ipswich Museum.

Photograph courtesy of the Portable Antiquities Scheme, Colchester and Ipswich Museum Service.

Figure 5. Bronze Priapus figurine, 1st c. Pompeii. <br/><br/>Photograph courtesy of Mary Harrsch.
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View full resolution
Figure 5.

Bronze Priapus figurine, 1st c. c.e. Pompeii.

Photograph courtesy of Mary Harrsch.

[End Page 125]

[Begin Page 127]

As James Uden convincingly demonstrates, these negative depictions of Priapus in the later Carmina Priapea surface criticisms of the aristocratic garden owners to whom they belonged. Priapus reflects the state of luxury and decadence running rampant in urban centers.142 Moreover, he becomes a figure who embodies the farcical hypersexuality of the Roman elite.143 As Priapus moves from country farms to urban pleasure gardens, Uden concludes, the god's reputation suffers as he becomes associated with the impotence (or fruitlessness), luxury, and lust for which aristocratic gardens and their owners were already being criticized.

Christian authors, never missing a chance to criticize pagan deities, likewise joined the chorus of writers who mocked Priapus.144 Lactantius, for instance, aligns himself with those ridiculing the god's impotence, pointing out the folly of "hop[ing] for protection from these things that are unable to protect themselves." Priapus proves himself a "useless log," Lactantius chides, by not being able to drive away even the birds who rest, "build their nests," and relieve themselves on his statues.145 Similarly, Arnobius and Augustine disparage the god for his connection to shameful lust and sexual profligacy.146

For my reading of Gregory's text, it is important to note that the widespread disrepute of Priapus in the West extended to eastern regions of the Empire as well. Just as in the West, Priapus enjoyed a prominent reputation in the East before degenerating into a favorite whipping boy of Eastern Christians.147 Eusebius, for example, speaks of Priapus as a stand-in for lust, passion, and profligacy.148 Fellow Cappadocian Gregory Nazianzus lists Priapus among the monstrous and ridiculous gods that pagans fashion into sculptures.149 When we turn to On Virginity, then, it is plausible to expect that Gregory was aware of contemporaneous Christians' derision of the demigod. [End Page 127]

Gregory's Garden, the Gatekeeper, and Access to the Παράδεισος

Just as Gregory mobilized his audience's desire through the appeal of the bounty of everlasting life and the appeal of access into a restricted space, so too, I believe, he leveraged the widespread mockery of Priapus discussed above. Gregory capitalized on the ridicule of the hyperphallic yet impotent god, using him as a foil against which to describe the exceeding power and virtue of Christian virginity.150 Despite Priapus's earlier reputation and despite appearances, Priapus's power and potency had been revealed to be a sham. In contrast to this ridiculously impotent figure, Gregory introduces virginity whose seeming impotence (or asexuality) turns out to be the very thing that gave it power. In an ironic reversal we see that her incorruptible nature—deriving from a voluntary renunciation of sexuality—enabled her the ability to grant Christians access into and a share of the παράδεισος.

Whereas Priapus's sex drive was derided for being directed toward the ignoble pursuit of self-gratification, virginity was a pathway to incorruption and immortality. Virginity's lack of passion and her abstention from bodily unions (that produced earthly children) enable her to beget "immortal children."151 Just as the Father and Holy Spirit generated the Son "without passion," so too Christian virgins participate in the "purity and impassibility of [this kind of] generation."152 Moreover, virginity's fecundity in terms of her "immortal children" mirrors that of the garden paradise: she shares in the kind of incorruptible generation that exemplifies divine activity and that exemplifies the everlasting flourishing of eternal life.153 I suggest that readers of Gregory's treatise likely would have understood the contrast between the immoderate sexuality of Priapus who was implicated in the largely ornamental (i.e., unproductive) pleasures gardens of the Imperial period against the true virtue and fruitfulness of Christian virginity.

Reading On Virginity with garden spaces and controversies in mind, we are better able to discern how Gregory's argument was underwritten by values, virtues, and emotions related to gardens. He imagines a παράδεισος that readers would have found attractive: a bountiful place where produce was everlasting and where corruption and death could not reach. His gatekeeper of the garden, Christian virginity, welcomed even those who [End Page 128] themselves did not yet possess incorruptibility. Her power (derived from her sexual moderation) and her fecundity (mirroring the everlasting produce of the garden paradise) would have been read in stark contrast to the powerlessness of Priapus who guarded unappealing, because unproductive, spaces. In short, Gregory's use of garden imagery amplifies—both conceptually and affectively—his characterization of the Christian παράδεισος and his praise of virginity as an attractive, powerful pursuit.


Although we know that Gregory's family owned property in three provinces, we possess only a glimpse into these land holdings.154 Extant sources tell us nothing of Gregory's early childhood residence in Neocaesarea (in Pontus). We know a bit more about Annisa, the country estate where Gregory's mother relocates the family upon his father's death. This estate was located on the slopes of a ridge and overlooked the expansive and fertile Phanaroea valley, which was watered by the Iris, Lycus, and Scylax Rivers.155 It is likely for a countryside estate like this to have, in addition to agricultural plantings, a garden proximate to the main house, though none of our sources describe such agricultural and horticultural spaces.

We know about Gregory's appreciation of gardens from his letter to Adelphius. When staying at Adelphius's country estate, Gregory wrote a letter to his absent host extolling the charm of the place. After admiring the natural beauty of the surrounding environs—including the nearby river, forest, mountains, and vineyards156—Gregory launches into a lengthy description of the garden.157 He marvels at the various strains of trees (apple, pear, and peach), as well as the purity, bounty, and flavor of their fruit. He applauds the orderliness and proportions of the plantings, which evidence careful planning and maintenance by a master gardener.158 He recounts being guided through the paths and shady spots of the garden, when one of the house attendants "plunged [his hand] into the depths [of [End Page 129] a pond] and brought up at will whatever fish he had a mind to." About this wonder, Gregory exclaims that this is "a sight that one does not often come across in nature."159 From this description of Adelphius's garden, we find a familiar trope about the supernatural beauty and bounty of the place, a beauty and bounty that rivals that of the surrounding—ordinary and uncultivated—nature. We also find Gregory likening the space with a well-known utopia, insisting that Adelphius's garden exceeds even the fabled Isles of the Blest.160

In addition to Gregory's appreciation of his friend's garden, he also appears to possess a deep familiarity with horticultural particulars. In his ninth homily on the Song of Songs, Gregory conjures an image of God's bride enclosed in a "thriving garden that contains the splendor of all the plants: the sweet fig tree, the fruitful olive, the lofty-headed date-palm, and the flourishing vine."161 In order to make full use of the metaphor, Gregory describes detailed aspects of these trees and plants from which he then draws theological parallels. For example, he explains the stages of development of the fig, olive, and date-palm trees in order to clarify how they are emblematic of the various dimensions of the bride's virtue. He observes that some of these trees produce their fruit up high (thus out of reach) or possess thorns in order to comment on the various tools the bride has at her disposal to protect her virtues. Finally, he describes proper irrigation techniques to ground his advice on the care necessary to nourish the bride's virtue.162

Given Gregory's effusive praise of Adelphius's gardens and his intimate knowledge of horticulture, we might conclude, with Virginia Burrus, that he was a man "at home . . . [in the] hills and streams and towns" more so than in the desert or city.163 His preference for using garden spaces as a springboard from which to contemplate higher things seems to grow out of his earthiness. Thus, as we begin to discern how Gregory mobilizes [End Page 130] features and values associated with gardens in On Virginity, we have reason to look for horticultural and agricultural imagery across his corpus. Further, with Blake Leyerle and Philip Rousseau, we might consider how Gregory's contemporaries likewise used natural imagery as a "powerful and accessible form" through which to think and teach.164 [End Page 131]

Kristi Upson-Saia
Kristi Upson-Saia is Professor of Religious Studies at Occidental College in Los Angeles


. I am grateful for the astute feedback and helpful advice from the journal's two anonymous reviewers, and for the suggestions I received at the 2015 Oxford International Patristic Studies Conference, where I presented an early version of this research.

1. Cant 4.12–16 (trans. NRSV, modified). The Hebrew for "garden enclosed" is inline graphic rendered in the Greek LXX as κῆπος κεκλεισμένος, and as hortus conclusus in the Latin Vulgate.

2. Cypr. Ep. 73 ad Pompeius 11; Firm. Ep. 74 ad Cyprian 15; Cypr. Ep.74 ad Magnus 2; Hier. Ep. 15 ad Damasus 1; Ambr. Myst. 55; Aug. Bapt. 5.27, 6.3, 6.29, 7.49, 7.51; Ernst Dassmann, "Ecclesia vel Anima: Die Kirche und ihre Glieder in der Hoheliederklärung bei Hippolyt, Origenes und Ambrosius von Mailand," RQ 61 (1966): 121–44; Karl Shuve, The Song of Songs and the Fashioning of Identity in Early Latin Christianity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016), 23–78.

3. Meth. Symp. 7; Ambr. Virg. 9.45–46; Hier. Ep. 22 ad Eustochium 25; Ath. Ep. 2 ad virg. 30; Elizabeth A. Clark, Reading Renunciation: Asceticism and Scripture in Early Christianity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 87–88, 140; Patricia Cox Miller, "The Blazing Body: Ascetic Desire in Jerome's Letter to Eustochium," JECS 1.1 (1993): 27–28; Shuve, Song of Songs, 109–37.

4. Gregory does not use the Greek κῆπος κεκλεισμένος—preferring the synonymous παράδεισος—which signals to me that he has in mind a non-biblical referent.

5. My analysis complements that of Blake Leyerle and Philip Rousseau who have studied the use of nature in the Cappadocians (Leyerle, "The Consolation of Nature: Fields and Gardens in the Preaching of John Chrysostom," in Ascetic Culture: Essays in Honor of Philip Rousseau [Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2013], 269–92; Philip Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998], 323–26). I also build on studies of water imagery in On Virginity (Virginia Burrus, "Begotten Not Made": Conceiving Manhood in Late Antiquity [Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000], 85–86, 90; Morwenna Ludlow, "Useful and Beautiful: A Reading of Gregory of Nyssa's On Virginity and a Proposal for Understanding Early Christian Literature," Irish Theological Quarterly 79.3 [2014]: 230–35); and on the work of Antigone Samellas who has shown how Gregory culls readers' experience in the phenomenal world to prompt their reflections on higher things ("Experience, Freedom, and Canon in the Work of Gregory of Nyssa," JECS 21.4 [2013]: 569–95; suggested earlier in Burrus, Begotten Not Made, 90).

6. For a summary of the scholarship on this treatise, see Morwenna Ludlow, Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and (Post)modern (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 182–201. Throughout this paper, I use Brill's Gregorii Nysseni Opera (GNO) critical editions and Virginia Woods Callahan's translation from the Fathers of the Church series (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press, 1966).

7. Since, Gregory reasons, how could an "image" have a nature that was "different from the archetype"? (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 12 [Gregorii Nysseni Opera ascetica, vol. 8.1 (Leiden: Brill, 1952), 298; trans. Virginia Woods Callahan, Saint Gregory of Nyssa: Ascetical Works, Fathers of the Church 58 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of American Press, 1966), 43]).

8. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 12 (GNO 8.1:299–300; trans. FC 58:44).

9. The incorruptibility "proper and natural to one's [created] self . . . the original state of the divine image" must first be restored in order for humans to once again commune with God (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 12, cf. 13 [GNO 8.1:300–302, 304–5; trans. FC 58:44–45]). On Gregory's views about the incorruptible state of humans at creation and a return to this state as a prerequisite for entrance into heaven, see Morwenna Ludlow, Universal Salvation: Eschatology in the Thought of Gregory of Nyssa and Karl Rahner (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 50–56, 76.

10. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 11 (GNO 8.1:296; trans. FC 58:41).

11. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 12 (GNO 8.1:300; trans. FC 58:44).

12. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 12–13 (GNO 8.1:302–3; trans. FC 58:46).

13. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 13 (GNO 8.1:303; trans. FC 58:46).

14. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 1 (GNO 8.1:251–52; trans. FC 58:9, modified).

15. "For when you speak of the pure and incorruptible, you are using another name for virginity" (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 2 [GNO 8.1:253; trans. FC 58:10]). Gregory further proves this point by demonstrating that the same words of praise are attributed to the virgin and to God: both are called "holy and blameless."

16. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 2 (GNO 8.1:255).

17. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 12, cf. 11 (GNO 8.1:302, cf. 297; trans. FC 58:46).

18. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 2 (GNO 8.1:255; trans. FC 58:11); Verna Harrison, "Gender, Generation, and Virginity in Cappadocian Theology," JTS 47.1 (1996): 49–50, 54–58.

19. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 (GNO 8.1:305–7; trans. FC 58:48–49); Harrison, "Gender, Generation, and Virginity," 49; Valerie Karras, "A Re-Evaluation of Marriage, Celibacy, and Irony in Gregory of Nyssa's On Virginity," JECS 13.1 (2005): 117–19; Margaret R. Miles, Fullness of Life: Historical Foundations for a New Asceticism (Eugene: Wipf & Stock, 1981), 102–3; Van Eijk, "Marriage and Virginity," 232–33.

20. ". . . inasmuch as [virginity] has not become an instrument in the process of mortality . . . the unceasing succession of destruction and dying, which began with the first man . . . is interrupted. . . . death found in virginity a limit to its own activity which it was powerless to overcome" (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 [GNO 8.1:305–7; trans. FC 58:49]).

21. Giulia Sfameni Gasparro, "Image of God and Sexual Differentiation in the Tradition of Enkrateia: Protological Motivations," in Image of God and Gender Models in Judaeo-Christian Tradition, ed. K. E. Børrensen (Oslo: Solum Forlag, 1991); cf. Hans Boersma, Embodiment and Virtue in Gregory of Nyssa: An Anagogical Approach (Oxford University Press, 2013), 117–27; Michel Aubineau, Grégoire de Nysse: Traité de la virginité, SC 119 (Paris: Éditions du Cerf, 1966), 148, 152–55, 161–62, 168–71.

22. Οἱ παυσάμενοι διὰ τῆς παρθενίας ἐν ἑαυτοῖς ἔστησαν τὴν τοῦ θανάτου περιγραφὴν περαιτέρω προελθεῖν αὐτὸν δι' ἑαυτῶν κωλύσαντες καὶ ὥσπερ τι μεθόριον θανάτου καὶ ζωῆς ἑαυτοὺς στήσαντες ἐπέσχον αὐτὸν τῆς ἐπὶ τὸ πρόσω φορᾶς (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 [GNO 8.1:306; trans. FC 58:48, modified]).

23. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 13 (GNO 8.1:305; trans. FC 58:47).

24. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 13 (GNO 8.1:305; trans. FC 58:48).

25. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 (GNO 8.1:306; trans. FC 58:48).

26. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 (GNO 8.1:309; trans. FC 58:51).

27. Gr. Nyss. Virg. praef. (GNO 8.1:247; trans. FC 58:6).

28. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 (GNO 8.1:308, cf. 309; trans. FC 58:46).

29. Καρπῷ τῆς παρθενίας; οὐκέτι καρποφορῶν τῷ θανάτῳ; ἐξαίρετον τῶν καλῶν καρποῦται (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 [GNO 8.1:306, 309; trans. FC 58:49, 50, 51]).

30. Inge Nielsen, "Types of Gardens," in A Cultural History of Gardens in Antiquity, ed. Kathryn Gleason (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 42–44; Maureen Carroll, Earthly Paradises: Ancient Gardens in History and Archaeology (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2003), 45–49.

31. On this range of gardens, see Carroll, Earthly Paradises, 49–79; Nielsen, "Types of Gardens," 42–55, 61–68; Linda Farrar, Gardens and Gardeners of the Ancient World (Oxford: Oxbow, 2016), 100–104, 111–18, 143–52.

32. Country villas were so closely associated with their horticultural spaces that a shorthand reference to the villa was the hortus (Linda Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens [Gloucestershire: Sutton, 1998], 13).

33. Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens, 15–21. Peristyle gardens were a Roman invention; they are notably absent from private houses in the Greek East (Nielsen, "Types of Gardens," 68).

34. Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens, 132–34, Table II.

35. The greenery rarefied the air and balanced the humours of the body (Vitr. 5.9.5, 5.9.9 [LCL 251:298, 300]).

36. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, "Horti and Hellenization," in Horti Romani, ed. Maddalena Cima and Eugenio La Rocca (Roma: L'Erma di Bretschneider, 1998), 1–4; Mary Boatwright, "Luxuriant Gardens and Extravagant Women: The Horti of Rome between Republic and Empire," in Horti Romani, 71–82.

37. The garden size, range of plantings, and intricate manipulation of nature (from cross-pollination to pruning) that required a gardening staff demonstrated the wealth of a household. The lavish events held in the garden further exhibited wealth, and the owner's refined aesthetic taste in terms of planting design and garden art (Katharine T. von Stackelberg, The Roman Garden: Space, Sense, and Society [London: Routledge, 2009], 11–12; Bettina Bergmann, "Art and Nature in the Villa at Oplontis," Journal of Roman Archaeology Supplement 47 [2002], 87–90).

38. Trees and plants transplanted from vanquished territories served as evidence of the extent of Roman domination and as microcosms of Empire (Plin. Nat. 12.9.20, 12.54.111–12 [LCL 370:14, 78–80]; Annalisa Marzano, "Roman Gardens, Military Conquests, and Elite Self-Representation," in Le jardin dans l'Antiquité, ed. Kathleen Coleman [Vandoeuvres: Foundation Hardt, 2014], 204–15). The skill involved in transplanting trees and plants from abroad and to assure their survival in the new environment revealed Romans' ingenuity (Plin. Nat. 12.6.14–10.21, 13.6.27–28 [LCL 370:10–14, 114]; Calp. Bucol. 2.40 [LCL 284:230]; Lena Landgren, "Plantings," in Gleason, Cultural History, 91, 94). Gardens also distinguished Roman "civilization" and mastery over nature in contrast to non-Roman farmers who were charged with having only the fundamentals of agricultural techniques (Tac. Ger. 26.2–3 [LCL 35:170]; von Stackelberg, Roman Garden, 12–13.)

39. Von Stackelberg, Roman Garden, 74–86; Elizabeth Macaulay-Lewis, "Use and Reception," in Gleason, Cultural History, 100–101, 102, 109–12, 114.

40. Just as a city wall was a constitutive feature of a city. See Anne van Erp-Houtepen, "The Etymological Origin of the Garden," The Journal of Garden History 6.3 (1986): 229; Carroll, Earthly Paradises, 123–24; Nielsen, "Types of Gardens," 63–64.

41. Jan N. Bremmer, "Paradise from Persia, via Greece, into the Septuagint," in Paradise Interpreted: Representations of Biblical Paradise in Judaism and Christianity, ed. Gerard P. Luttikhuizen (Leiden: Brill, 1999), 1–20; van Erp-Houtepen, "Etymological Origin," 229–31.

42. Von Stackelberg, Roman Garden, 19–20.

43. Col. Rust. 10.28, 11.3.2–7 (LCL 408:8, 130–32); Pall. Opus agriculturae 1 (John Henderson, Hortus: The Roman Book of Gardening [London: Routledge, 2014], 104); Plin. Ep. 5.6.17 (LCL 55:342); Hom. Il. 18.561–66 (LCL 171:328), Hom. Od. 24.222–24 (LCL 105:428). On material remains of garden enclosures: Wilhelmina F. Jashemski, "The Excavation of a Shop-House Garden at Pompeii (I. XX. 5)," AJA 81.2 (1977): 221, figure 3.

44. Col. Rust. 10.29 (LCL 408:8); Var. R. 1.8.2 (LCL 283:212). On the divisiveness of garden enclosures, see Victoria Emma Pagán, Rome and the Literature of Gardens (London: Bristol, 2007), 20–21; Katharine T. von Stackelberg, "Meaning," in Gleason, Cultural History, 120–21, 124.

45. Extant agricultural sources provide ample advice regarding climate-controlling techniques and other means (e.g., bee-keeping) by which to ensure extraordinary flowering and fruiting (e.g., Thphr. CP 2.1.2–4 [LCL 471:200–204]; Pall. Opus agriculturae 4 [Henderson, Roman Book of Gardening, 110]).

46. Plin. Ep. 2.17.17–19 (LCL 55:138).

47. Patrick Bowe, Gardens of the Roman World (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2004), 105; von Stackelberg, "Meaning," 126–27.

48. Plin. Ep. 2.17.16–17, 19; 5.6.30–31 (LCL 55:138, 346); Mart. 8.14 (LCL 95:166); Var. R. 1.4.5 (LCL 283:186).

49. Cic. Sen. 15.52–53 (LCL 154:64); Plin. Ep. 5.6.36–37, 40 (LCL 55:350–52).

50. In the words of Rhianna Evans, utopic landscapes "hijack time and refuse to submit to the cosmic law of the seasons . . ." ("Searching for Paradise: Landscape, Utopia, and Rome," Arethusa 36.3 [2003]: 295).

51. Hom. Od. 7.112–31 (LCL 104:254); Calp. Bucol. 2.72–83 (LCL 284:232); Mart. 12.31 (LCL 480:114). These conceptual associations seem to have been exaggerations of reality. Virgil implies that well-designed and cultivated gardens may have enjoyed extended seasons, but not year-round flowering and fruiting (G. 4.134–43 [LCL 63.226–28]).

52. Sen. Con. 5.5 (LCL 463:486).

53. Carroll, Earthly Paradises, 104.

54. Von Stackelberg, "Meaning," 127–29.

55. Evans, "Searching for Paradise," 295; cf. Annette Lucia Giesecke, "Beyond the Garden of Epicurus: The Utopics of the Ideal Roman Villa," Utopian Studies 12.2 (2001): 13; von Stackelberg, Roman Garden, 7, 53.

56. Katheryn Gleason, "Design," in Gleason, Cultural History, 38–39.

57. Evans, "Searching for Paradise," 292–97; Carroll, Earthly Paradises, 122–33. Antony Littlewood and Katharine T. von Stackelberg, "Verbal Representations," in Gleason, Cultural History, 135–36.

58. Plu. Sert. 8.572 (LCL 100:20–22).

59. Plin. Nat. 4.12.89–91 (LCL 352:186–88).

60. Plin. Nat. 4.12.89 (LCL 352:186); cf. Pindar's description of the Hyperboreans in P. 10.40–42 (LCL 56:372). For additional descriptions of utopias in these terms, see also Hom. Od. 4.562–65; 7.112–31 (LCL 104:158, 254); Hes. Th. 215–16 (LCL 57:20); Verg. A. 6.704–11 (LCL 63:580–82); and Plu. Sert. 8.572 (LCL 100:20–22); André Motte, Prairies et jardins de la Grèce Antique: De la religion à la philosophie (Brussels: Académie Royale de Belgique, 1973), 233–79; Carroll, Earthly Paradises, 12.

61. Robin Lane Fox, "Early Christians and the Garden: Image and Reality," in Le jardin dans l'Antiquité, 374–83; Markus N. A. Bockmuehl and Guy G. Stroumsa, eds., Paradise in Antiquity: Jewish and Christian Views (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

62. Papias, Fr. 1 (LCL 25:92–95).

63. Leyerle, "Consolation of Nature," 271–73, citing Chrys. Hom. in Gen. 5.4, 6.4, 14.3. As Leyerle notes, however, Chrysostom also exploits the theological signifi-cance of distinct seasons—and the "regular progression from winter to spring"—in order to illuminate his views on the resurrection.

64. Chrys. Hom. 14 in Gen. (PG 53:114c; trans. Hill, FC 74:187); cf. 1 Enoch 27–31, Apoc. Paul 22, Apoc. Petr. 15–16, and Ambr. Parad. 3.

65. For images and discussion in Robert Hughes, Heaven and Hell in Western Art (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1968), 47–105.

66. Ruth Levitas, The Concept of Utopia (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1990), 179–200, see 190–92 for an excellent discussion of the different ways in which hope and desire manifest in utopian descriptions and impulses.

67. Diana Spencer, "Horace's Garden Thoughts: Rural Retreats and the Urban Imagination," in City, Countryside, and the Spatial Organization of Value in Classical Antiquity, ed. Ralph M. Rosen and Ineke Sluiter (Boston: Brill, 2006), 244; Evans, "Searching for Paradise," 286.

68. The foundational studies on how restrictions influence preference and produce desire are Stephen Worchel, Susan Arnold, and Michael Baker, "The Effects of Censorship on Attitude Change: The Influence of Censor and Communication Characteristics," Journal of Applied Social Psychology 5.3 (1975): 227–39; Stephen Worchel and Susan Arnold, "The Effects of Censorship and Attractiveness of the Censor on Attitude Change," Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 9 (1973): 365–77; cf. Miller, "Blazing Body," 27–28.

69. For example NPNF (ser. 2) 5:665–67; FC 58:46–47 (cf. GNO 8.1:302–4); Aubineau, Grégoire de Nysse, SC 119:206–8.

70. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 (GNO 8.1:306; trans. FC 58:48, modified).

71. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 13 (GNO 8.1:305; trans. Callahan, FC 58:48).

72. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 (GNO 8.1:305; trans. Callahan, FC 58:48).

73. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 12–13 (GNO 8.1:302–5). Although beyond the scope of this paper, I would suggest that this discussion may have elicited in readers the specific image of a tomb garden, which was planted to provide food for the dead as well as for living visitors, to fund the upkeep of the plot, and to symbolize the hope for some version of everlasting life (J. M. C. Toynbee, Death and Burial in the Roman World [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971], 94–100; Valerie M. Hope, Roman Death: The Dying and the Dead in Ancient Rome [London: Continuum, 2009], 156, 158, 173–74). Relevant to the next section, see also Hans Herter's discussion of Priapus figures located near tombs (De Priapo [Giessen: A. Töpelmann, 1932], 229–32).

74. The life here is "incorruptible, life-giving, and immortal" (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 13 [GNO 8.1:305; trans. FC 58:47]).

75. Gr. Nyss. Virg. praef. (GNO 8.1:247; trans. FC 58:6]).

76. The famine in central Anatolia is attested in the late 360s (Socr. H.e. 4.16; references to the famine in the works of the Cappadocians are discussed in Susan R. Holman, "The Hungry Body: Famine, Poverty, and Identity in Basil's Hom. 8," JECS 7.3 [1999]: 337–63); Gregory's On Virginity was written around 370/371 (Aubineau, Grégoire de Nysse, SC 119:31–32).

77. Whereas other scholars concentrate on how Gregory orients desire through an aversion to the perils of married life (e.g., Burrus, Begotten Not Made, esp. 87–89; Ludlow, Universal Salvation, 56–64; Boersma, Embodiment and Virtue, 120), I wish to highlight the way Gregory taps a desire for the garden paradise.

78. . . . ὥσπερ τινὰ θύραν καὶ εἴσοδον . . . (Gr. Nyss. Virg. praef. [GNO 8.1:247; trans. FC 58:6]).

79. Hans Herter's De Priapo remains the definitive guide to all things Priapan in antiquity.

80. Priapus is most often figured as the guardian of gardens: Anthologia Graeca 16.86, 236, 237, 240, 241, 243, 260 (LCL 86:204, 300, 302, 304, 314); Verg. G. 4.110 (LCL 63:224–26); Appendix Vergiliana 2 (LCL 64:508–10); Hor. S. 1.8 (LCL 194:96); Ov. Fast. 1.415, 6.333 (LCL 253:30, 342); Col. Rust. 10.32–34 (LCL 408:8); Mart. 6.72 (LCL 95:54); and Carmina Priapea (hereafter CP) 5, 15, 17, 28, 44, 51, 52, 59, 62, 64, 65, 67, 71, 72 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 132, 154, 160, 182, 218, 232, 238, 254, 260, 266, 268, 272, 288, 290). Yet Priapus also guarded orchards (Appendix Vergiliana 3 [LCL 64:510–12]; Mart. 6.16 [LCL 95:12]; CP 15, 71 [Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 154, 288]), vineyards (Appendix Vergiliana 3 [LCL 64:510–12]; Mart. 6.49 [LCL 95:36]; CP 30 [Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 186]), a pig sty (CP 65 [Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 268]), and sailors (Anthologia Graeca 10.1–2, 4–9, 14–17 [LCL 85:2–8, 10–12]). Wilhemena Jashemski proposes that Priapus statues should be studied alongside a wide range of apotropaic phalli situated throughout the city: on city walls, gates, and dangerous street corners. To corroborate her theory, she cites several phalli found throughout Pompeii, including a limestone phallus on the outside wall of a shop garden ("Shop-House Garden," 219–21). Hans Herter makes a similar point and also notes that Priapus was stationed not only at the boundaries of plots of land, but other boundaries as well, leading Herter to conclude that Priapus functioned generally as a boundary stone (De Priapo 213–15, 232–37).

81. On watchmen and dogs, see Appendix Vergiliana 2.19 (LCL 64:510); Col. Rust. 6.6, 7.11.1–7 (LCL 407:122, 306–10); Var. R. 1.13.2 (LCL 283:210); CP 17, 62 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 160, 260); discussed in James Uden, "The Vanishing Gardens of Priapus," HSCP 105 (2010): 196–97.

82. That the statues were made out of wood, see Appendix Vergiliana 1, 2, 3 (LCL 64: 508–10); Col. Rust. 10.31–32 (LCL 408:8); Mart. 6.73, 8.40 (LCL 95:54, 186); CP 6, 10, 25, 43, 56, 63, and 73 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 134, 142, 176, 216, 248, 262, 292); Herter, De Priapo 163–67. Scholars suppose wood was chosen—rather than materials more often used for garden statues: marble, bronze, and stone—to limit the possibility of the statues being stolen (Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens, 111; Bowe, Gardens of the Roman World, 34).

83. Col. Rust. 10.32–34 (LCL 408:8); CP 77 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 302).

84. Anthologia Graeca 16.236 (LCL 86:300); CP 65 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Pria pea, 268). Concerns that the statue would be stolen (e.g., Mart. 6.72 [LCL 95:54]) imply that Priapus was most often stationed on the exterior wall. On the varieties of statues represented in coins, frescoes, literary descriptions, and material remains, see Herter, De Priapo, 95–201.

85. Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens, 103.

86. Amy Richlin, The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992), 121. See, for example, CP 49 which describes the inscriptions on the wall (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 228).

87. On the few extant inscriptions, see W. H. Parker, Priapea: Poems for a Phallic God (London: Croom Helm, 1988), 10–30.

88. Priapea can be found in the multi-author collection of the Anthologia Graeca (3rd c. b.c.e.), the Appendix Vergiliana (1st c. –6th c. c.e.), and eighty Latin epigrams in the Carmina Priapea (dated to the 1st or 2nd c. c.e., abbreviated CP). There are also scattered poems in the works of Catullus (frag. 2), Horace (S. 1.8), Tibullus (1.4), Ov. (Fast. 1.391–440, 6.319–48), Columella (Rust. 10.31–34), Martial (6.16, 6.49, 6.72, 6.73, 7.91, 8.40, 14.70), and inscriptions (e.g., CIL 14.3565). For a comprehensive discussion of the sources, see Parker, Priapea, 1–31; Eugene Michael O'Connor, Symbolum Salacitatis: A Study of the God Priapus as a Literary Character (Frankfurt: Lang, 1989), 54–99. For this paper, I use the most recent critical edition, Carmen Codoñer and Juan A. González Iglesias, Priapea (Huelva: University of Huelva, 2015), consulting two other editions: Parker, Priapea and Richard Walter Hooper, The Priapus Poems: Erotic Epigrams from Ancient Rome (University of Illinois Press, 1999).

89. There is a lively debate over whether the epigrams found in the collections were in fact transcribed from statue pedestals and shrines or authored by a single or multiple author(s). On the debate, see Parker, Priapea, 32–36; Richlin, Garden of Priapus, 141–43; James Uden, "Impersonating Priapus," AJP 128.1 (2007): 8; Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 36–37.

90. Hooper, The Priapus Poems, 19–20; Uden, "Impersonating Priapus," 8; Lowell Edmunds, "Horace's Priapus: A Life on the Esquiline (Sat. 1.8)," CQ 59.1 (2009): 126.

91. Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 144; trans. Parker, Priapea, 85, modified. Cf. Anthologia Graeca 16.242 (LCL 86:304–5); CP 6, 9, 20 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 134, 140, 166).

92. His three principal kinds of rape are listed in CP 13, 22, 74 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 150, 170, 294). On vaginal rape, see CP 18 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 162); on irrumatio, see CP 35, 44, 56, 70 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 198, 218, 248, 286); on anal rape, see Anthologia Graeca 16.241 (LCL 86:302–4); CP 11, 17, 25, 31, 35, 52, 69, 77 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 144, 160, 176, 188, 198, 238, 282, 302).

93. For example, CP 24 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 174).

94. J. N. Adams, The Latin Sexual Vocabulary (London: Duckworth, 1982), 113.

95. Anthologia Graeca 16.241, cf. 16.240 (LCL 86:302–5, cf. 302); cf. CP 69 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 282). Horace Sat. 1.8.1, 47 suggests that statues of Priapus were carved from a fig tree (LCL 194:96, 100), possibly a play on his threats of anal rape.

96. CP 25 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 176; trans. Parker, Priapea, 109, modified).

97. CP 6 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 134; trans. Parker, Priapea, 77, modified); cf. CP 18, 28, 54, 77.

98. CP 52, cf. CP 31 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 238, cf. 188; trans. Parker, Priapea, 151, modified).

99. Due to the perishability of the wooden garden statues, none remain extant (Hans Herter, "Priapos," Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft [Stuttgart, 1954], 1941). The figurines and statue pictured here are intended merely to give readers a sense of the iconography passers-by would have encountered at a garden entrance.

100. Gr. Nyss. Virg. praef., 14 (GNO 8.1:247, 306).

101. Further, throughout this chapter virginity (παρθενία) is preceded by an article, which denotes the concept par excellence.

102. Emma Stafford, Worshipping Virtues: Personification and the Divine in Ancient Greece (London: Duckworth, 2000).

103. I am grateful to one of the journal's anonymous reviewers who drew my attention to the comparison between virginity and personified, deified virtues.

104. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 14 (GNO 8.1:306, 309).

105. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 18 (GNO 8.1:316).

106. μεγάλῳ τινὶ καὶ ἰσχυρῷ διατειχίσματι (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 21 [GNO 8.1:328]).

107. τεῖχος δέ ἐστιν ἀσφαλὲς (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 21 [GNO 8.1:328]).

108. ὅρος (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 21 [GNO 8.1:329]).

109. φυλάττεσθαι (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 21 [GNO 8.1:329]).

110. Καθάπερ κύνας τινὰς πυλωροὺς πρὸς μόνην ἐγρηγορέναι . . . κατὰ τοῦ κλέπτου καὶ πολεμίου . . . ἵνα κλέψῃ καὶ θύσῃ καὶ ἀπολέσῃ (Gr. Nyss. Virg. 18 [GNO 8.1:318; trans. Callahan, FC 58.57]).

111. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 1 (GNO 8.1:247; trans. Callahan, FC 58.6).

112. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 3 (GNO 8.1:256–57).

113. Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 198.

114. Criticisms were leveled not only by moralists, but by opportunistic aristocrats wishing to undermine a rival or political opponent (Littlewood and von Stackelberg, "Verbal Representations," 144–47). On the tension between the positive and negative associations with gardens, see von Stackelberg, Roman Garden 93–100; Macaulay-Lewis, "Use and Reception," 105–8; Beard, "Imaginary Horti," 72–75.

115. Hor. S. 1.8 (LCL 194:96); Hor. Carm. 2.18.23–26 (LCL 33:134); Sen. Con. 5.5 (LCL 463:484–88).

116. Whether the vegetation grown in the garden was non-edible or whether the edible trees and plants were pruned or bred to curb production (e.g., Hor. S. 1.8.14–15 [LCL 194:96]; Hor. Carm. 2.15 [LCL 33:124–26]; Var. R. 1.13.6 [LCL 283:214]; CP 61 [Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 258]). Throughout the Carmina Priapea, Priapus regularly comments on the dearth of produce in the urban gardens he protects. As James Uden notes, the "benevolent earth" that Priapus protected in the countryside "has given way to a hostile and unfruitful vision of nature . . . a deliberately anti-pastoral dystopia" (see the excellent discussion in Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 203–6).

117. Sen. Ep. 122.5 (LCL 77:414); Sen. Con. 2.1.13 (LCL 463:218); Plin. Nat. 12.6.12–13 (LCL 370:10); discussed in Gleason, "Design," 30; Littlewood and von Stackelberg, "Verbal Representations," 141; Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens, 60.

118. Hor. Carm. 2.15 (LCL 33:124–26); discussed in Farrar, Ancient Roman Gardens, 23. Aristocrats claimed that infertility stemmed from overfarming (Col. Rust. 1.praef. [LCL 361:2–4]).

119. See criticisms of Servilius Vatia (Sen. Ep. 55.3–4 [LCL 75:366]), Lucullus (Plu. Luc. 38–39.518 [LCL 47:596–600]), Pompey (Plu. Pomp. 48.644 [LCL 87:240]), Cato the Younger (Plu. Cat. Mi. 30.774 [LCL 100:308]), Nero (Suet. Nero 31.1–4 [LCL 38:130–32), and Tiberius (Suet. Tib. 15.1 [LCL 31:334–36]); cf. Sen. Tranq. 3.6–8 (LCL 254:224–26), Sen. Ep. 122.8 (LCL 77:416); Wallace-Hadrill, "Horti and Hellenization," 3–6; Boatwright, "Luxuriant Gardens," 74, 76, 79–81. Vitruvius defends his patron Augustus from this attack by arguing that even unfruitful gardens are beneficial to health (Vitr. 5.9.5, 5.9.9 [LCL 251:298, 300]).

120. For example, Cic. Cael. 15 (LCL 447:452); Calp. Bucol. 3.92–95 (LCL 284:242); discussed in Gleason, "Design," 24–25; A. R. Littlewood, "Romantic Paradises: The Rôle of the Garden in the Byzantine Romance," Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies 5.1 (1979): 97–98. The representation of sexual encounters in gardens makes sense given that garden work was itself sexualized—Columella describes "the penetration/rape of the earth in winter, . . . the erotics of fertilization and germination, an orgy of growth, a seduction of flowers, vermicide through menstruation, and an erect and burgeoning harvest that climaxes with Bacchus's autumn festival" (Katharine T. von Stackelberg, review of John Henderson, Hortus: The Roman Book of Gardening [London: Routledge, 2004] in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2005.05.22)—and given that garden terms were used as slang for women's genitalia or for an insatiable sex drive (κῆπος was slang for female pudenda, while μανιόχπος ["garden-mad"] referred to being consumed with sating one's sexual impulses, associations that also attached to the Latin hortus [Adams, Latin Sexual Vocabulary, 84, 96, 113, 228–29]).

121. For a lengthy description of being sex-mad in a garden and using features of the garden as part of sex play, see Alciphron, Ep. 4.13 (LCL 383:282–94); on rape in gardens, see Littlewood, "Romantic Paradises," 97; on adulterous affairs and sex with prostitutes in gardens, see Macaulay-Lewis, "Use and Reception," 112–13.

122. A motivation we detect in part from the timing in which the material and literary record evidence statues of Priapus in urban gardens (Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 192–93, 198), a time frame that Hans Herter confirms (De Priapo, 25). See also Hans Herter's characterization of Priapus as a rural god (De Priapo, 203–20).

123. All of the virtues moralists associated with rural horticulture and agriculture, Uden suggests, were crystalized in the figure of Priapus: By working the land, sometimes tiny patches of infertile land, from dawn to dusk, Romans demonstrated themselves to be hard-working, disciplined, and resourceful. Even small households produced enough food to remain self-sufficient, and Romans took pride in being dependent on no one for their sustenance (Plin. Nat. 19.19.52–53 [LCL 371:452–54]; Juv. 3.226–31 [LCL 91:184]). By living at the subsistence level, Romans' desires were moderated: they did not pine for luxuries beyond their means, but relished the little they had (Verg. G. 4.127–48 [LCL 63:226–28]; Col. Rust. 10.praef. [LCL 408:2]; Juv. 11.78–89 (LCL 91:406); Hor. S. 2.6 [LCL 194:210–12]; Plin. Nat. 19.19.57–59 [LCL 371:456–58]).

124. Referencing Anthologia Graeca 16.236 (LCL 86:300–301), Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 192; cf. Anthologia Graeca 16.238, where Priapus reports that he has been set up merely "for the sake of convention" since the vineyard he guards is all dried up (LCL 86:300–301).

125. Referencing Appendix Vergiliana 1–3 (LCL 64:508–12), Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 194–95; on the rural sacrifices made to Priapus, see Herter, "Priapos," 1923.

126. Referencing Anthologia Graeca 16.236, 16.261 (LCL 86:300, 314), Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 192.

127. Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 192–93. Peter Stewart adds that the humble wooden statues of Priapus outside aristocratic gardens—a stark contrast to the fine art on display inside—may have aimed to reject the appearance of luxuria (Peter Stewart, "Fine Art and Coarse Art: The Image of Roman Priapus," Art History 20.4 [1997]: 576).

128. Uden agrees with other scholars that Priapus's increasing impotence follows "a narrative progression within the Carmina Priapea as a whole, developing through the poems and climaxing (so to speak) in the closing sequence" (Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 204).

129. CP 70 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 284–86).

130. Appendix Vergiliana 3 (LCL 64:514).

131. CP 61, 63 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 258, 262); Appendix Vergiliana 1 (LCL 64:508).

132. Appendix Vergiliana 1 (LCL 64:508); Mart. 8.40 (LCL 95:186); Alisa Hunt, "Priapus as Wooden God: Confronting Manufacture and Destruction," Cambridge Classical Journal 57 (2011): 48–50.

133. Appendix Vergiliana 2.16–21 (LCL 64:510); cf. CP 55 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 246).

134. So impotent is Priapus that, in Mart. 6.72, he—the statue—is stolen by a thief (LCL 95:54).

135. CP 5, 38 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 132, 206; trans. Parker, Priapea, 75, 129); cf. Anthologia Graeca 16.240 (LCL 86:302).

136. CP 77 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 302).

137. CP 26, cf. 32, 70 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 178, cf. 190, 284; trans. Parker, Priapea, 111).

138. CP 64, cf. 51 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 266, cf. 232; trans. Parker, Priapea, 171).

139. CP 10 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 142; trans. Parker, Priapea, 83, modified).

140. CP 56 (Codoñer and Iglesias, Priapea, 248; trans. Parker, Priapea, 155).

141. Hor. S. 1.8.14–50 (LCL 194:96–101).

142. Uden, "Vanishing Gardens," 215.

143. Uden, "Impersonating Priapus," 2, 4.

144. Herter, De Priapo, 177.

145. Lactantius borrows the "useless log/wood" expression from Hor. S. 1.8 (Inst. 2.4.140–44 [CSEL 19:107–9; trans. Fletcher, ANF 7:45]).

146. Arn. Adv. Nat. 6.25 (CSEL 4:236); Aug. Civ. 2.14, 6.9, 7.24 (PL 41:59–60; 187–89, 214–15). These Christian authors use slights of Priapus to impute shameful hypersexuality to all pagans rather than exclusively to aristocratic garden owners.

147. Worship of the demigod originated in Lampsacus from as early as the third century b.c.e. ; shrines and inscriptions to Priapus have been discovered across the Greek territories (Verg. G. 4.111 [LCL 63:226]; Ov. Fasti 6.319–48 [LCL 253:342–44]; Str. Geogr. 13.1.12 [LCL 223:26–28]; Paus. 9.31.2 [LCL 297:306]; Herter, De Priapo, 38–43, 245–61).

148. Eus. L.C. 13.2 (PG 20:1397).

149. Gr. Naz. Or. contr. Jul. 2.32 (PG 36:1053).

150. This runs parallels to other reversals Morwenna Ludlow has identified in the treatise, revealing a common tactic used by Gregory ("Useful and Beautiful," 221–25, 230–35).

151. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 13 (GNO 8.1:305; trans. Callahan, FC 58.48).

152. Gr. Nyss. Virg. 2 (GNO 8.1:253; trans. Callahan, FC 58.10).

153. Harrison, "Gender, Generation, and Virginity," 45–46, 54–58; Aubineau, Grégoire de Nysse, SC 119:197–99.

154. Life of Macrina (GNO 8.1:376).

155. For descriptions of this valley and region, see Strabo, Geography 12.3.15, 12.3.30; cf. Ptol. Geog. 5.6.3; G. de Jerphanion, "Ibora-Gazioura? Étude de géographie pontique," Mélanges de la Faculté Orientale, Beyrouth 5.1 (1911): 333–54; Anna M. Silvas, The Asketikon of St. Basil the Great (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 43–50.

156. Gr. Nyss. Ep. 20.1–7 (GNO 8.2:68–70; trans. Anna Silvas, Gregory of Nyssa: The Letters [Leiden: Brill, 2007], 182–85).

157. Gr. Nyss. Ep. 20.9–15, 21 (GNO 8.2:70–72; trans. Silvas, Letters, 185–87).

158. Gr. Nyss. Ep. 20.12 (GNO 8.2:71).

159. Gr. Nyss. Ep. 20.15 (GNO 8.2:71; trans. Silvas, Letters, 186).

160. Gr. Nyss. Ep. 20.2–3 (GNO 8.2:68–69).

161. Gr. Nyss. Hom. 9 in Cant. (GNO 6:273; trans. Richard A. Norris, Gregory of Nyssa: Homilies on the Song of Songs [Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012], 289).

162. Gr. Nyss. Hom. 9 in Cant. (GNO 6:274–78, 281–83). In his correspondence with the church of Nicomedia, Gregory uses a more simplified image of the "garden enclosed" to offer advice on how to select a cleric. The church, he advises, should seek a candidate who will enclose the church like a garden refuge so that members can delight in the safety and life-sustaining nourishment found therein (Gr. Nyss. Ep. 17 [GNO 8.2:51–58]).

163. Burrus, Begotten Not Made, 81.

164. Leyerle, "Consolation of Nature," 272; cf. Rousseau, Basil of Caesarea, 323–26.

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