Small Penises, Penis, Tiny, Statue, Greek, Art, History

Small Penises on Statues: Explained!

Although I like a tiny wang, so I wasn’t the one complaining.


In undergrad, before I landed on graphic design, and before I moved to New York to for to go to school, I was an Art History major for almost two years. It was mostly because I found the subject interesting and wrote well enough to talk about paintings, movements, and sculptures at length in essays and papers with little difficulty. Not because I had a plan to do anything practical with a degree in art history.

But it was also because there are sooooo many penii in art! Like. It’s almost as if people just didn’t used to even wear clothes, ever! And, as Ellen Ordesson discusses on her very-worth-your-time blog, How to Talk About Art History, they do tend to be tiny penises at that.

A reader asks her: “Why do all old statues have such small penises?”

And Ms. Ordesson’s thoughtful reply is actually super-enlightening and well reasoned:


“There are two main reasons why ancient Greek statues have small penises:

Firstly, they’re flaccid. If you compare their size to most flaccid male penises, they are actually not significantly smaller than real-life penises tend to be.”


This is pretty true and people should probably admit that.


“Secondly, 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.”


This one actually shocked me. But she’s got the research to back it up:


“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.”


priapus, boner, small penis, art, statue, greekShe also provides some great visual examples, but I’ll encourage you to head over to HTTAAH to see them for yourself. It’s probably unsurprising that Priapus came into the discussion at this point, although it’s not in the positive light that I might have expected. It turns out that his permaboner was actually a curse placed upon Priapus by Hera, before his ultimate death at the hands of the other gods.  You learn something new every day.


“Classical Greek sculpture has been hugely influential for all sculptural representations of the male body in European art, so it’s no wonder that small-penised statues have been the norm throughout most of Western art history. It also shows that our obsession with penis size has always been there, it’s just changed slightly.”


It’s easy to wonder if it’s for the better.  I, for one, love small dicks. I don’t ever need more than exactly what fits in my mouth. It just seems greedy.



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Manuel T.

I may have learned this from the Shady Ladies Tour at the MET but small penises were associated with intelligence while a large penis was seen as grotesque…almost like a handicap of sorts. As you quoted above, it was seen as a sign of foolishness.


It can also be seen as a class and race thing, large penii were seen as both a signifier of lower class masculinity and as the preserve of savage races (the Romans for instance considered large penii as the preserve of the Celts and the Nubians).


YAY! Art history! I took it, too, as an undergrad (though my major was Anthropology). I wish my prof had covered this, however. I only knew one genital fact about Greek art that I learned from the UK show ‘QI’. In that everyone always has one ball that hangs lower than the other, even if only slightly. It’s always the same ball, and it’s always the wrong (opposite) ball on Greek & Roman statuary. Have you read Dover’s ‘Greek Homosexuality’? It’s really that brilliant, I think.

Manuel T.

I think someone at Esquire reads your blog. They don’t mention you but it is very coincidental.


[…] about him, and don’t spend all your time wishing he was different. Remember: to the Greeks, a small, aesthetically pleasing penis was the height of elegance and refinement.  It’s all about the […]

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