We have all seen sculptures from ancient Greece that depict important figures from history. These sculptures are known for their muscular and well-built bodies, but they also often depict small penises. Did you know that this was actually a sign of status? Let's explore the reason behind this.
When looking at sculptures of male figures from ancient Greece, many of us have noticed that their penises appear smaller than average.
It is the same with all respected figures, from Zeus, the greatest of the gods, to majestic warriors.
Even sometimes, it is possible to see that they have no penis at all.
Let's hear from Peter Webb, Art historian from Middlesex University:
'While doing research for a book, I asked for and was granted access to the British Museum's secret erotic collections.'
"During my visit to the museum, the staff showed me a collection of marble penises in the Greek and Roman artifacts section."
'I found out that these pieces were cut out by the curators of the 19th century themselves, so that the works would be suitable for public exhibitions!'
Webb offered to reattach the marble penises shown to him to the statues from which they had been removed, but his offer was rejected:
'I later learned that similar moralizing was also seen in other countries. The penis of Michelangelo's David was censored with a marble leaf in the 16th century. This leaf remained on the statue until 1912.'
"Fortunately, European curators have chosen to censor these sculptures rather than demolish them."
'But that's why there are gaps in many sculptures.'
But what was the reason why the penises first sculpted in statues were so small?
The answer to this question is given by photographer Ingrid Berthon-Moine, who created a photo exhibition of the penises of ancient statues:
"Ancient Greek culture was intensely masculine."
'On the other hand, people of this period preferred small and firm penises, not large genitals. In today's culture, there is a different idea of superiority, a social norm that the bigger the penis, the more desirable it is.'
For example, when we look at the depiction of satyrs, mythological beings, we see that they have huge erect penises.
This is because these half-animal, half-human creatures were seen as less than respectable in the norms of Ancient Greek society.
Art historian Ellen Oredsson also emphasizes that the perception of sexual attractiveness at that time was different.
'While the norms of the time considered people with large penises to be 'stupid, horny and ugly', the ancient Greek comedian Aristophanes listed a small penis as one of the physical characteristics of the ideal man.'