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May 02 2014

Is it pronounced “Testi-clees”?

All that naked Greek statuary, with all their naughty bits hanging out…someone had to document ancient Greek testicles, and that person was Ingrid Berthon Moine.

Hey! Hey you! My eyes are way up here! I’ll have you know I’m much more than just a pretty ball sack…although the boys are spectacular, if I do say so myself.

48 comments

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  1. 1
    David Chapman

    Well I’m happy that you’re impressed, PZ. It looks like a lot of bollocks to me. :)

  2. 2
    Inaji

    The variation is quite interesting.

    PZ:

    although the boys are spectacular, if I do say so myself.

    I’m content to take you at your word.

  3. 3
    LykeX

    I’m content to take you at your word.

    Well, I’m not. This is a critical science-minded blog, isn’t it? I demand evidence!

    Seriously, though, some of those are really detailed. A lot of effort went into carving a realistic set of balls.

  4. 4
    LykeX

    Actually, this takes me back. My old school was just next to a park, which also had an art gallery. Outside the gallery, in the park where we kids often went to play, there was a large reproduction of Michelangelo’s David, in all it’s glorious nudity.

  5. 5
    rq

    Testacular, indeed.

  6. 6
    Kevin Kehres

    @3 — if you like that, you should hop over to Paris and get a load of Rodin’s house/studio. The man was absolutely obsessed with vaginas (vaginae?).

  7. 7
    Artor

    I’m Testi-clees! No I’M Testi-clees!

  8. 8
    Inaji

    Kevin @ 6, that would be interesting sculpture, given that vagina refers to internal structure. I believe vulva is the word you were looking for, in a rather lost way, as this thread is about testicles.

  9. 9
    Trebuchet

    I wonder how many museums she got kicked out of!

    @4: I saw something the other day pointing out that Michelangelo’s David is not very well endowed. That may have been intentional because people would be looking up at it.

  10. 10
    azhael

    @6 Kevin

    vaginas (vaginae?)

    Vulvae.

  11. 11
    Inaji

    Trebuchet:

    I wonder how many museums she got kicked out of!

    Why would she get kicked out? It’s difficult to tell what a photographer may or may not be focusing on, and if photography isn’t prohibited, there wouldn’t be a problem.

  12. 12
    permanentwiltingpoint

    That reminds me of one of my favourite science papers: McManus, I.C. (1976): Scrotal asymmetry in man and in ancient sculpture. Nature 259, 426.

    The paper (less than a page long, actually) is freely available online.

  13. 13
    David Chapman

    8
    Inaji

    Kevin @ 6, that would be interesting sculpture, given that vagina refers to internal structure. I believe vulva is the word you were looking for, in a rather lost way, as this thread is about testicles.

    Testicles are internal structures as well, this ( appallingly mis-named ) thread is actually about Ancient Greek scrotums.
    ( Is it spelled skrotums? )

    Ha!

  14. 14
    robertfoster

    Where’s the pubic hair?

  15. 15
    Akira MacKenzie

    …although the boys are spectacular, if I do say so myself.

    I wish I had your level of genital self-esteem, PZ. I myself have no illusions about my equipment; I’m laughably small and of no account.

  16. 16
    Akira MacKenzie

    Ugh, I can’t even use proper HTML when I’m being self-deprecitive.

  17. 17
    Crimson Clupeidae

    That reminds me of one the funniest skits I ever saw at the Az Renfair: Testicleez and the Sack of Rome.

    Wish I knew what happened to those guys. They only played at the Az fair a couple of years.

  18. 18
    yazikus

    My 5 yr. old informed me a while back that “if you are ever stuck in a dust plane, with some berbers and you are in a survival situation, don’t worry, you can find a goat and eat it’s tentacles, just take them right out and snarf them up raw”.

  19. 19
    richardelguru

    “Testi-clees”
    Wasn’t he the one of the Argonauts who could mark a thousand papers in the twinkling of a red pencil?

  20. 20
    moarscienceplz

    @#17 Crimson Clupediae

    Yes! Sound and Fury are great! I saw them and the NorCal Ren Faire.

  21. 21
    Kevin Kehres

    @13— scrota, according to my handy Webster’s Medical Dictionary.

  22. 22
    Crimson Clupeidae

    moarscienceplz@20: Thanks. I couldn’t remember the name of the troupe. I will have to see if I can find some clips later!

  23. 23
    Desert Son, OM

    permanentwiltingpoint at #12:

    McManus won an IgNobel in Medicine in 2002 for that paper.

    Still learning,

    Robert

  24. 24
    moarscienceplz

    The Scrotum Song

  25. 25
    moarscienceplz

    Let’s try that one again.

    The Scrotum Song

  26. 26
    robnyny

    If one can make a living doing this, I clearly made some poor career choices.

  27. 27
    cartomancer

    If they’re Greek then no, it’s pronounced όρχι (orchi)…

  28. 28
    jefferylanam

    moarscienceplz beat me to the link to Sound & Fury. They have a new show, prequel to Testaclese and the Sack of Rome, called Testaclese Decending. They have graduated from Ren Faires, I think, and get to work indoors these days.

  29. 29
    Juliana Ewing

    Orchides. (Or “orkhides,” in a more modern transliteration.) Singular orchis. And yes, the flowers are called after them.

  30. 30
    terces

    There’s a story about a racehorse owner registering 3 horses names all at once. Pericles, Damocles and Testicles. I don’t think it worked though.

  31. 31
    Inaji

    Desert Son @ 23:

    McManus won an IgNobel in Medicine in 2002 for that paper.

    Nonetheless, natural asymmetry of certain body parts is an important study for us artists, especially those of us who do nudes.

  32. 32
    Desert Son, OM

    Inaji at #31:

    Nonetheless, natural asymmetry of certain body parts is an important study for us artists, especially those of us who do nudes.

    Indeed!

    From McManus (1976, p. 426):

    Table 1 shows that although the ancient artists were correct in tending to place the right testicle higher, they were wrong in so far as they also tended to make the lower testicle the larger: we may postulate that they were also using the common-sense view that the heavier ought to be lower. Although Winckelmann’s observations of antique sculpture were correct, his observations of nature are clearly in error.

    Still learning,

    Robert

    Reference:
    McManus, I. C. (1976). Scrotal asymmetry in man and in ancient sculpture. Nature, 259, 426.

  33. 33
    playonwords

    Just posted a thread in DU about the apparent US terror of bare nekked statuary and how confusing it to Europeans. That thread has pictures

  34. 34
    ChristineRose

    @robertfoster, #14

    It wore off after years of exposure to the elements.

    Although there are only a few examples of Greek statuary that made it to this point with even a visible trace of their paint intact, we know enough about it from spectroscopy to know it was exceptionally garish and tacky.

  35. 35
    carlie

    Although the paper came out several years ago, I just the other day saw reference to a hypothesis that Michelangelo’s David is small in the groin area because he’s supposed to be really scared, and therefore exhibiting such physical features as, um, shrinkage.

  36. 36
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    For information on David’s modest penis, check out http://www.cracked.com/article_18386_7-mind-blowing-easter-eggs-hidden-in-famous-works-art.html

    It has a photo of David’s face from the front, and clearly shows the terror and aggression on his face.

    And for those who wonder why David was not circumcised, it seems that at time, circumcision was just a tiny nip off the end. Quite reasonable when you think about it, when, without antibiotics, even a small wound could be deadly.

  37. 37
    David Chapman

    36
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    And for those who wonder why David was not circumcised, it seems that at time, circumcision was just a tiny nip off the end. Quite reasonable when you think about it, when, without antibiotics, even a small wound could be deadly.

    For myself, I don’t like to hear the words ‘reasonable’ and ‘circumcision’ conjoined. At what time do you mean? The Renaissance or 1000 BC? And if 1000 BC, how could we know such a detail? Is there an ancient Hebrew medical text that says:
    “Don’t go crazy and cut too much off!” And if there is, why aren’t there modern Jews ( Americans, Muslims, etc ) who insist on this method instead of the contemporary mutilation?

    As for David’s foreskin ( a subject with resonances for me needless to say) Michelangelo was not restrained by prosaic considerations in his works. In his Pieta, the 30-odd year old dead Jesus is cradled by a 20-odd year old Virgin Mary.

  38. 38
    Inaji

    David Chapman @ 37:

    In his Pieta, the 30-odd year old dead Jesus is cradled by a 20-odd year old Virgin Mary.

    I expect that has more to do with the standard depictions of the virgin Mary, all of them having her being young, given that she was elevated to almost deity status quite early on by the church, what with them having little choice about it and all.

  39. 39
    NitricAcid

    When I teach my students about Avagadro’s number, I talk about how many particles there are in a mole, and what I mean by “particles”. I then usually go off on a tangent as to how that word looks like it should be the name of a Greek hero, and complain that this lecture usually gets the theme song to the 1970s cartoon “The Mighty Hercules” stuck in my head.

    One student got the flu the day after that lecture, and was watching TV when that cartoon came on. After about ten minutes, he found that the remote had fallen, and he was too sick to reach it….so he suffered through two hours of The Mighty Hercules, cursing my name every minute of it.

  40. 40
    mykroft

    The Romans used to swear oaths while holding their testicles, a word that translates from the Latin as “little witnesses”.

  41. 41
    David Chapman

    38
    Inaji
    David Chapman @ 37:

    In his Pieta, the 30-odd year old dead Jesus is cradled by a 20-odd year old Virgin Mary.

    I expect that has more to do with the standard depictions of the virgin Mary, all of them having her being young, given that she was elevated to almost deity status quite early on by the church, what with them having little choice about it and all.

    ?? It is a standard depiction of the Virgin Mary. More to do with a standard depiction then what?
    As to how much choice they had, that would be a difficult question to fathom at this distance in time.

    Religious art in general is no more a paragon of accuracy than other artefacts such as hagiographies of the saints. Notoriously, it’s remarkably difficult to find a portrait of Jesus — and there are a lot of those — that looks Jewish. ( And even more so with Mary. )

  42. 42
    Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    @NitricAcid:

    That show (from the 60′s, by the way, not the 70′s) had one of the great theme songs – much better than the show itself. Nevertheless, as a 5-year-old I was a fan of both. I even went out has Hercules – with a magic ring on my finger and a big H on my belt – one Hallowe’en.

  43. 43
    Hairhead, whose head is entirely filled with Too Much Stuff

    (Sings)
    The best thing about “Hercules” was the theme song, which had a lovely and heroic melody:

    Hercules,
    hero of song and story
    Hercules,
    winner of ancient glory
    fighting for the right
    fighting with his might
    with the strength of ten
    ordinary men
    Hercules,
    people are safe when near him
    Hercules,
    only the evil fear him
    softness in his eyes
    iron in his thighs
    virtue in his heart
    fire in every part
    of the mighty
    Hercules!

    I loved the song, but loathed the animation. Even at 10 years old, I appreciated the art of Disney, and looked with contempt upon the tv-quality crap.

  44. 44
    Moggie

    NitricAcid:

    When I teach my students about Avagadro’s number, I talk about how many particles there are in a mole, and what I mean by “particles”. I then usually go off on a tangent as to how that word looks like it should be the name of a Greek hero

    Not such a hero. I bet Triangle Man could beat him!

  45. 45
    David Marjanović

    Wasn’t he the one of the Argonauts who could mark a thousand papers in the twinkling of a red pencil?

    Thread won.

    For information on David’s modest penis

    …Let me just mention that it’s perfectly within the range of a fully flaccid one.

    I teach my students about Avagadro’s number

    You don’t. You teach them about Avogadro’s number. In Italian, or indeed most languages other than English, a and o are never pronounced the same – not under any circumstances.

  46. 46
    carlie

    I saw a license plate today that said “AVOGADRO”

  47. 47
    David Chapman

    37

    David Chapman.

    For myself, I don’t like to hear the words ‘reasonable’ and ‘circumcision’ conjoined.

    …Mind you I should admit that it is claimed that it helps protect against HIV infection for heterosexual men in sub-Saharan Africa.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circumcision#Sexually_transmitted_diseases

  48. 48
    David Marjanović

    I saw a license plate today that said “AVOGADRO”

    Yay! ^_^

    it is claimed that it helps protect against HIV infection

    …if you’re not using a condom, and apparently even then only when the period of abstinence after the procedure itself is counted.

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