Why we’re covering this: We love art history and body positivity! Explaining the origins of famous genitals helps us appreciate our own even more!
“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.”
— Art historian Ellen Oredsson in her article, “Why do all old statues have such small penises?” A reader sent Oredsson the question and Oredsson points out that most penises on Greek statues are merely flaccid rather than “small” — if you were being attacked by a large snake (like Laocoön and his sons above), you’d probably be flaccid too… unless you’re a herpesexual.
Oredsson points out that there ARE Greek statues with large penises, they just tend to be of satyrs (goat men) and Priapus (a Greek fertility god so hated by the other Gods that Hera “cursed with a permanent erection” before the Gods kicked him off of Mount Olympus). She also has an NSFW article on smooth vaginas in art too — interesting!
A reader also pointed out to us that Cecil Adams of The Straight Dope tackled this issue back in 2005, and used a text entitled Greek Homosexuality to do it; nice.