Art evolving constantly, some details of ancient works now appear to us singular. This is the case, for example, of the size of the male genitals, almost systematically represented, in ancient Greek art, disproportionately small.
Many statues, paintings and other works, often represent the man to his disadvantage, anatomically speaking. Because from ancient Greece to the Renaissance, there are many forms of art to be attributed to his models of abnormally small sex proportions, which seems to find a rational explanation.
In addition to the fact that, biologically, the size of the penis at rest can vary from one individual to another and from one situation to another, the artistic representation also finds a cultural reason.
If today society considers a large phallus as a symbol of strength and virility, ancient societies seemed to attribute a different meaning of this peculiarity.
For example, we find that many ancient works representing large penis were associated with satyrs, or Priapus and while the first were vicious creatures accompanying Dionysus, the god of the vine, wine and excesses, Priapus was the god of fertility, touched by a curse that condemned him to be in perpetual erection and was so despised by the other gods that they threw him off Mount Olympus.
Therefore, in ancient times, a generous male organ corresponded to negative characteristics, such as madness, lust, or ugliness, while a small penis was similar to qualities much more commendable. The “ideal” man, even if he could enjoy a very active sexuality, had to have a small sex, which allowed him to be rational and intellectual.
This physical trait and its current association are found elsewhere in the writings of ancient Greece, and in particular in the play “The Clouds”, Aristophanes, Greek poet who lived in the fifth century and who relates this state of affairs :
“If you do what I tell you, and if you apply your intelligence, you will always have fat breast, fair complexion, broad shoulders, short tongue, fleshy buttocks, small penis. But if you are attached to those of the day, you will immediately have a pale complexion, small shoulders, tight chest, long tongue, small buttocks, strong parts, endless decrees. ”
Also, remember that the art of ancient Greece is characterized by an idealization of man, both moral and physical, and by an aestheticism pushed to the extreme, which led the artists to realize works putting their subject to his advantage.
Similarly, later, the Romans would present the same tendency to represent Man with small penises, just as did the artists of the Renaissance, also inspired by ancient Greek art. For example, David, a sculpture of Michelangelo made between 1501 and 1504 and exhibited in Florence, Italy, is presented with a surprisingly small penis. But besides the influence of ancient Greece on the artist, another explanation seems to emerge.
In 2005, two Florentine doctors published work on this finding, explaining that the sex of David was shriveled by the fear of fighting Goliath, since the sculpture represents the future king of Israel before his fight against the giant. According to scientists, this anatomical detail, like the other elements of the work, all coincide with the biological reaction of extreme fear and tension.
The size of the masculine attributes in art, a seemingly insignificant detail that appears in many historical works, illustrates by itself how human societies evolve, valuing a time an attribute, and later, its exact opposite.