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Old 01 June 2016, 11:10 PM
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Icon102 Why do Greek statues have such small penises?

Don’t pretend your eyes don’t hover, at least for a moment, over the delicately sculpted penises on classical nude statues. While it may not sound like the most erudite subject, art historians haven’t completely ignored ancient Greek genitalia either. After all, sculptors put as much work into penises as the rest of their artwork, and it turns out there’s a well-developed ideology behind those rather small penises.

In ancient Greece, it seems, a small penis was the sought-after look for the alpha male.
http://qz.com/689617/why-do-greek-st...small-penises/
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  #2  
Old 02 June 2016, 12:10 AM
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They would have had to be small, if they were to have any hope of reproducing, considering that ideal ancient Greek women, judging by the statues, had genitalia so small that despite a lack of hair they were entirely invisible.

-- I always found the combination of the lovingly detailed male genitalia and the entirely missing female ones rather unnerving.
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Old 02 June 2016, 12:56 PM
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Probably for the same reason that female nudes were not pictured with very large breasts.

OY
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Old 02 June 2016, 01:56 PM
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Gives new meaning to the expression "Body of a Greek God".
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Old 02 June 2016, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overyonder View Post
Probably for the same reason that female nudes were not pictured with very large breasts.
Well, but at least they had them. They didn't have a blank nippleless expanse; which would be the equivalent of what they did at the crotch.

Considering that the legs are generally closed, I wouldn't expect the sort of detail lavished on the men. But at least some faint hint of a cleft would make them look a lot less weird to me. Or if not that, then enough hair so that could plausibly be why nothing else is visible. Or fig leaves all around. Or something!
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Old 02 June 2016, 04:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Well, but at least they had them. They didn't have a blank nippleless expanse; which would be the equivalent of what they did at the crotch.

Considering that the legs are generally closed, I wouldn't expect the sort of detail lavished on the men. But at least some faint hint of a cleft would make them look a lot less weird to me. Or if not that, then enough hair so that could plausibly be why nothing else is visible. Or fig leaves all around. Or something!
I didn't really explain what I meant (mea culpa). What I meant is that the statues may have been made more "modest" (for lack of better terms) as to not attract too much attention to the nether regions.

Also... I think most men (and of course some women) will agree that when a man is physically active (running, walking, etc) and not at ease, the general length is reduced. Yes, 'shrinkage'. And if it's cold, too.

As for the ladies not having much shown down below... I don't know. Perhaps the intention was to show them as chaste? (pure speculation here).

OY
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Old 02 June 2016, 04:44 PM
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I teach Greek art. Sometimes my students bluntly ask about the penises, but usually I address it and they all giggle nervously. Everyone wonders, but few actually ask. The explanation I give them is pretty much what it says in the article.
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Old 02 June 2016, 06:13 PM
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Ariadne, does anyone ever ask you about the total blank on the women, particularly in contrast to the detail on the men?
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Old 02 June 2016, 07:41 PM
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Oddly, I can't recall anyone ever asking about that. I remember reading an article about it several years ago, but I don't recall the exact conclusions. Some believe pubic hair was painted on, but that still doesn't explain the lack of any detail. It is quite strange.
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Old 02 June 2016, 08:37 PM
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Could be worse. (NFBSK)

But seriously, weren't Greek statues originally painted in bright colors (or was it the Romans)? Perhaps a little more detail was added in the paint job.

Last edited by Tootsie Plunkette; 02 June 2016 at 09:00 PM.
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Old 02 June 2016, 08:47 PM
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Yes, they were painted. But it is odd that there is no indication of pubic hair. Male statues often have sculpted public hair. The statues of women would have looked just as strange with just a triangle of dimensionless paint over the pubic area.
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Old 02 June 2016, 09:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tootsie Plunkette View Post
Could be worse. (NFBSK)

But seriously, weren't Greek statues originally painted in bright colors (or was it the Romans)? Perhaps a little more detail was added in the paint job.
I know the great statue of Athena was dressed each year during her festival. It was supposedly a great honor to be the family chosen to produce the next year's garment (toga? tunic? IDK). Perhaps if the intention was for the statues to have been clothed, it was felt unnecessary to add such finer details that would not have an effect on the clothed appearance.
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Old 02 June 2016, 10:04 PM
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From the writings of the time, I think they simply had the same feeling about body hair as genitals: It was supposed to be naturally unnoticeable.
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Old 03 June 2016, 12:02 PM
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So I guess the male statues have small hands as well?
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Old 03 June 2016, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ganzfeld View Post
From the writings of the time, I think they simply had the same feeling about body hair as genitals: It was supposed to be naturally unnoticeable.
Except that, as Ariadne says, the male statues often did have pubic hair. And the male statues most certainly had genitals, sculpted in a great deal of detail. It wasn't genitals or hair that they thought should be unnoticeable.

What was done with paint at the time is difficult to tell, of course. But I can't help but get the impression that the attitude was either that if there were no male genitalia, then of course there was nothing there at all -- that femaleness was designated entirely by absence; or that male genitalia were entirely respectable, but the female version way too yucky to even hint at.

And I am somewhat further thrown by the fact that Ariadne's present day students appear to either take the absence for granted, or to think that it's too taboo to be discussed.
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Old 03 June 2016, 01:40 PM
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Quote:

And I am somewhat further thrown by the fact that Ariadne's present day students appear to either take the absence for granted, or to think that it's too taboo to be discussed.
As someone said once "never forget, the Puritans came to the U.S.."
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  #17  
Old 03 June 2016, 01:53 PM
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Shame on everyone for bodyshaming those Greek statues. Shame!!!


Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
Gives new meaning to the expression "Body of a Greek God".
People were apparently making less than polite comments about Amy Schumer's recent nude photoshoot but just this week she posted evidence that she has the body of a Greek Goddess:
http://mashable.com/2016/05/31/amy-s.../#1FVnfX5tEkqF
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Old 03 June 2016, 04:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thorny locust View Post
Except that, as Ariadne says, the male statues often did have pubic hair. And the male statues most certainly had genitals, sculpted in a great deal of detail. It wasn't genitals or hair that they thought should be unnoticeable.
Well, true. I was thinking of a better word than unnoticeable. Unremarkable maybe. Not notable. They thought the skin should be naturally rather free of hair. "Gleaming." But naturally means there would have to be a little there. (Otherwise, OMG you shaved, that's cheating. A little. You're not naturally perfect.)
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  #19  
Old 03 June 2016, 04:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitap View Post
As someone said once "never forget, the Puritans came to the U.S.."
Not really - the USA was not even formed until 150 years after the Puritans started coming to North America.
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  #20  
Old 03 June 2016, 04:46 PM
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I found this article online. I don't know a lot about the writer or the circumstances, but the arguments seem logical to me. It also has some cites and feels...scholarly.
https://whatistalent.wordpress.com/2...reek-statuary/
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