Ellen over at How To Talk About Art History answers a question: why do the ancient Greco Roman statues have such small penises? This was something that I had always noticed and giggled about with my schoolmates back in the day, but as an adult I never really thought about it much. I figured that, as far as flaccid penises go, they’re not so terribly tiny, and anyway the artists back then probably didn’t think to focus on that part so much.
And yet, it turns out that the little penises were sculpted so very much on purpose.
Cultural values about male beauty were completely different back then. Today, big penises are seen as valuable and manly, but back then, most evidence points to the fact that small penises were considered better than big ones.
One of the reasons historians, such as Kenneth Dover in his landmark book Greek Homosexuality, have suggested that small penises were more culturally valued is that large penises were associated with very specific characteristics: foolishness, lust and ugliness.
All representations of large penises in ancient Greek art and literature are associated with foolish, lustful men, or the animal-like satyrs. Meanwhile, the ideal Greek man was rational, intellectual and authoritative. He may still have had a lot of sex, but this was unrelated to his penis size, and his small penis allowed him to remain coolly logical.
That, is, fascinating. I wonder how, and when, fluctuations in opinions on penis size happened, and why.