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Local antiquities, local identitiesArt, literature and antiquarianism in Europe, c. 1400–1700$
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Kathleen Christian and Bianca de Divitiis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781526117045

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526117045.001.0001

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Semini and his progeny: the construction of Antwerp’s antique past1

Semini and his progeny: the construction of Antwerp’s antique past1

(p.209) 10 Semini and his progeny: the construction of Antwerp’s antique past1
Local antiquities, local identities

Edward Wouk

Manchester University Press

Semini is one of several names for a small Gallo-Roman sculpture that was installed above the gate of Antwerp’s Vieux-Bourg sometime in the fourteenth century.  Little is known of the early history of Semini, although it was rumoured to be the object of a fertility cult.  Yet, in 1549, at a crucial moment in the political identity of the city and its relationship to the Hapsburg empire, the statue came to be identified as Priapus, the Greco-Roman god of the fields and of procreation.  This essay examines the reappropriation of Semini in the context of counter-reformation Antwerp.  It considers the importance of this small antiquity to emerging practices of local antiquarianism, historiography and philology, while also examining some of the everyday street activities which both reinforced and challenged concepts of antiquity in the early modern city.

Keywords:   Renaissance Antwerp, Local History and Antiquarianism in Belgium, Hapsburg Antwerp, European Foundation Myths, Renaissance Popular Culture, Semini, Priapus

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