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Penis envy? Berlusconi slammed for replacing statue body parts

What is it about the male appendage that keeps getting the Italian PM in such hot water?

Venus and Mars, in the courtyard of the Chigi Palace. When last seen, Venus was missing a hand - and Mars was without a penis.
Venus and Mars, in the courtyard of the Chigi Palace. When last seen, Venus was missing a hand - and Mars was without a penis.
Image: Andrew Medichini/AP

THE ITALIAN GOVERNMENT has been forced to spring to the defence of controversial prime minister Silvio Berlusconi yet again – after it emerged that the premier spent €70,000 having a new penis fitted to a statue in his office.

A statue of the gods Venus and Mars currently sits in 74-year-old Berlusconi’s office, on loan from the Terme di Diocleziano, the grandest of Rome’s network of public baths.

The statue of the pair – in Roman mythology the goddess of love and god of war, respectively – dates from the 2nd century, so it’s hardly surprising that they would have incurred a degree of damage in their 1900-year existence.

Understandly, therefore, Venus had managed to lose her outstretched hand in her various transits, while Mars had at some point been stripped of his manhood.

Now, however, Berlusconi has found himself under fire – after he authorised the replacing of the missing organs at public expense, going against the general convention that such missing body parts are left without recreation.

The prime minister’s personal architect, however, has insisted that the replacement of the organs was done as tastefully as possible – using other works in similar poses for inspiration, and with the blessing of the official restorers from the country’s culture ministry.

Vatican Museums director Antonion Paolucci told Italian daily paper La Repubblica, however, that it was “a pity” the ministry had not put a stop to the new appendages.

The prime minister’s office has insisted, however, that the replacement of the organs has been done as elegantly as possible – and that Venus’s hand and Mars’s penis are fully magnetic and easily removable.

The new appendages only came to light after the statue was placed into the courtyard of the Chigi Palace, the official (though rarely used) residence of Italian prime ministers.

The statue had previous lay untouched in a basement – where, Berlusconi’s architect added, many of ancient Rome’s treasures are kept, simply because there are not enough public areas in which to display them.

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Gavan Reilly

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