Following links are NSFW!
Taken from Quora answer - https://www.quora.com/Why-do-ancient-Greek-sculptures-and-st...
> (1) Long, thick penises were considered--at least in the highbrow view-- grotesque, comic, or both and were usually found on fertility gods, half-animal critters such as satyrs, ugly old men, and barbarians. A circumcised penis was particularly gross. (2) The ideal penis was small, thin, and covered with a long, tapered foreskin.
This is in conflict with your idea that they are just 'average', rather than idealized.
> I suppose you can idealize what's average, technically.
Not just technically, it happened in a few well-documented cases, like the Norma craze I mentioned: https://www.thestar.com/news/insight/2016/01/16/when-us-air-...
Well, that's convenient. I wonder what women had to say about that ;)
The reason a depiction of a smaller penis was preferred is that it was a sign of fertility. Men with smaller penises were seen as genetically more likely to be able to impregnate a woman, and thus was a desired trait at the time.
From the second response on your quora link:
>The ancient Greeks believed that short penises allowed the man's seed to travel a lesser distance before entering the woman's body and impregnating her. A small penis was seen as being more virile. A long penis meant the seed had further to travel, and had less chance of impregnating a woman.
Also, as much as it sounds out of place today, classical (i.e. Greek / Roman) thinkers didn't consider women to be people - they were above slaves and animals, but it was in every way a male-dominated society.
Edit: Also, to continue along the lines of your hypothesis, too much testosterone in individuals may actually be a detriment to the society as a whole. While it may serve you well on the battlefield as nomadic raiders or hunters, that same competition can lead to an increase in internal violence that destabilizes the collective. Also, you wouldn't need as many children in a city as you would on a farm (free child labor!), so increased fertility just means more mouths to feed.
Are you sure about that? What about the Bonobos? I don't know specifically about their testosterone levels, but they have a lot of sex and basically have constant orgies, and seem to have very good social cohesion (for small apes) without any internal violence at all. A high sex drive doesn't necessarily mean a lot of jealousy and competition between the males.
That's what my point was. Civilizations rise when less aggressive males are "dominating" the sexual market, but that civilization is also vulnerable to more aggressive males and once exposed to them, it crumbles. We can also see this effect to some extent in western civilization.
If they showed more prudence and were less aggressive at everyone around them they would have been better prepared for the attacks from the Goths and barbarians.
Additionally, they were overextended financially as well which left them in a weak state. Over-extension is the result of highly risky behavior, which is comparable to the cowboy Wall St jockeys of the present era which are definitely a modern masculine image.
Avoiding the extremes seems to be where progress is made. Being neither overly aggressive nor so weak you get walked over by the tougher kids on the block. The boring times in history were great times for economies (see 1990s, post-WW2 America), there were still some military adventurism but mostly short-lived minor disputes (Korea, Desert Storm).
Modern statecraft is largely about economics today, not militarism. For example, I would doubt the US could fall from a lack of military prowess, while still totally dominating the world financial markets. Money goes a much longer way than guns and heart these days.
Just look at how Russia's economy is doing these days - despite being the toughest kid on the block. Even if they succeed at war mongering it could only take them so far before the west could obliterate their citizens quality of life without firing a shot.
Then the empire had a stint of epidemics and bad luck that degradated socitey and the political system, leading to constant civil war.
This reminds me of men who claim that normal size condoms are "too small". Again, total BS. It's quite easy to blow one up like a balloon without it bursting. A larger one will be more comfortable for someone large, but the regular one will stretch to fit.
Yeah, I never said it was ideal, just that it would fit. I did say that it wouldn't be as comfortable. Same as a woman with a guy who's "too large" for her. It'll fit. It may not be comfortable, it might hurt some even, but it will fit.
Especially when you consider that the average ancient Greek man was about six inches shorter than the average Western male today.
Much of low life expectency comes from very high infant mortality -- deaths to age 5 or 10. Once you've passed that threshold, your odds of survival increase markedly. Perhaps slightly lower than today's first-world standards, but hale-and-hearty at 15 doesn't mean you're going to fall over dead at 25.
You also want to look at life expectency at any given age. And I distantly recall that the number of (I can't remember specifically which) Greeks or Romans surviving to age 80+ compared favourably to modern times.
I remember reading stories where he charged ahead of the rest of the army, scaled enemy walls, chased down royal bodyguards and so on. He was bloody crazy. A guy with his (lack of) brains should not have made it past 16, let alone get to 32.
So... they're not small. I guess most people haven't seen many average, flaccid ones. If most of your exposure to penises is hardcore pornography and Mapplethorpe that confusion is understandable.
He read, and studied, many text books that described and illustrated the average, flaccid penis in order to mentally handle this job without emotional damage.
He was the first person to bring to my attention the argument over statue penis size vs. perceived real penis size and I'm surprised to see that the debate continues! He had many references to studies done in this field (it's surprisingly popular!)
Despite the continuing debate, my friend has a unique set of skills on his CV.
What sort of emotional damage did he think would result from being a medical scrotum model? What did the job entail actually? I would assume he would let students see his penis or have it photographed for anatomy books, or something similar? Or were the students allowed to touch it, or something?
Well, at some point there will be a need for hands-on practice. I don't know if the friend is providing that, but I hope somebody is.
I assume there's a certain amount of verbal discussion, also.
When his show came to Cincinnati in 1990, the art director was arrested and the Contemporary Arts Center, the museum that brought his exhibit to town, was criminally charged with obscenity for exhibiting sadomasochistic photographs. The museum director received many letters requesting he step down from his position, which they kept all of these years and put on display last year in the reunion exhibit.
> No museum or director has ever been charged since.
(This article is SFW.)
I'll bet a lot of those letters aren't safe for work!
I do have a Robert Mappelthorpe t-shirt that is safe-for-work, if a imposing (it's a tightly-cropped self-portrait of eyes), but unfortunately most people don't get why it's funny to wear to work :(
So, sure, "not safe for work"... :-)
He definitely doesn't look afraid from below. He always looked bored to me, but looking him in the eyes, he definitely looks concerned.
Rome on the other hand considered itself a masculine nation, who's roads were broad and straight, never turning for nature.
Not that the Greeks couldn't have fun, they used statues with erect penises as road signs in Athens, famously knocked off by Alcibiades (in fact he was framed by a rival ) the night before the invasion of Sicily.
The David is a statue of a 14 year old, in addition to the reasons given in the article.
Today we equate masculinity and virility with a large penis, but to the Greeks and Romans a large penis had no such connotation.
When you think about it, it makes sense from a biochemical perspective. Without the male testes a man can not produce testosterone which is the key hormone that regulates growth, muscle mass, aggressiveness, competitiveness, vitality, etc.
So it is understandable to think that a larger pair of testes would make you 'more' of a man and a smaller set, less.
Not sure when exactly this change occurred in Western culture but it would be the more interesting question to try to answer.
I think that's one step to far. It's a better (at least 'cleverer'?) argument if you just leave it at "it's survivor bias."
i used to live in firenze and there is a statue of neptune(o) in the palazzo vecchio
once i was walking past it with a friend and i told her it was one of my favourite statues in the city
and she surprisingly responded, 'of course it is'
i asked why it was so obvious and she said, 'well, look at his balls'
"what about his balls?"
'that's an old man with the balls of a prepubescent boy'
now, you could make an argument about the models used or some social aspect of the times or artist but i loved where she went from there
"interesting, go on"
'it's a clear fetishising of immortality, to think you can be old with such a tight young body is the pure representation of a god, the immortal'
wisdom of experience, strength of youth
Many of the great classic Italian movies are in (Southern) dialect, so I tend to watch them with subtitles. Need to watch this movie.
Maybe we can infer that sculptors didn't want erogenous zones to become too relevant and overshadow the statue as a whole.
Lice genetics suggests clothing is at least 80K years old even though the oldest needles are less than half that age. So people may have been engineering "support" to decrease the disadvantages of size. Nearly all the near naked jungle tribes seem to have support. I am suggesting size increased long before 2000 years ago, but not the entire history of the human race.
Your crotch is the least interesting part to hit.
What I do know is that if I have a sharp stick, I will not aim it at your penis. The main goal in a fight is to incapacitate. So an attack on the penis even if successful would be rather wasted. Bleeding from the crotch doesn't make you any less dangerous in the short term.
The pain alone from a hit to the groin is also enough to make somebody vomit or straight out pass out. I'm not certain if that effect is the same with cutting as it is with punches and kicks...
Some of these statues probably started off with huge penises. The stone broke, and thus the statues got downsized. It's that or lug a new boulder back to the workshop.
Statue buyers must have had a say as well, and vandalism is not a recent invention. People have been snapping parts off of art since before recorded history. If you were an ancient statue buyer, would you choose a design that will easily suffer damage at the hands of a 12-year-old kid? No way. Short is best. It's probably cheaper too.
Greeks considered the difference between the size of a flaccid vs erect penis a sign of masculinity, and therefore tended to use small penises.
What's more glorious than knowing that the flaccid retracted penis of an amazing athlete will grow 4x when required (which is plausible). A larger non retracted penis wouldn't grow so much proportionally.
"No, I'm anti-vandalism."
Edit: It's now been changed. It used to say "male genitalia" instead of "penises".
EDIT: Title has been changed. Good for whoever changed it!
No double-entendres implied.
And, BTW, that title should be no problem to most of us IMO.
Before that America was literally founded (in the north at least) by religious conservatives who were too prudish for Europe. In fact the early US Quaker movement banned sex all together.
See, for example, http://www.challies.com/quotes/the-puritans-and-sex which quotes quite a few Puritan writings.
The point was to show the contrast -- the Puritans were only pro-celibacy for the unmarried, which they viewed as a temporary state; they had a pretty one-sided "everyone should get married and have lots of sex" view. They themselves considered this to be in opposition to RC views. (And, in particular, comments about the Puritans being anti-sex are way off base.)
Also - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUspLVStPbk :-)
The comment turned out to be a false supposition, and both the commenter and the OP were (not unreasonably!) conjuring a HN or American-sensibility censor to explain things they noticed. The censor did not exist.
But it's funny, a large part of the OP is about the dichotomy between the Flesh and the Intellect, a boundary which some Greeks wanted to highlight symbolically and visually.
They had their virility symbols (like Priapus and Dionysius), which were separated from other characters with smaller members but more lofty concerns. (E.g., from the OP: "large penises were associated with very specific characteristics: foolishness, lust and ugliness...").
My point is that it's not reasonable to foist off this drive to separate the Flesh from the Intellect as being an American-specific peculiarity. Clearly the Greeks viewed this distinction as sometimes worth highlighting.
Believe it or not, some of us from America don't understand it either. IME, your best bet is to think of the most uptight, prudish, puritanical person you know, and that's what composes the moral censors in good 'ole US of A.
Maybe the submitter changed the title after seeing your comment?
edit: What would you know about that? You joined less than a year ago.
Cool it with that. Some of us regularly make fresh accounts, for various reasons, like privacy.
HN doesn't heavily revolve around points (karma/upvotes/whatever) and a who's-who of posters, which is refreshing. Ironically, your statement is pushing toward that type of system, which would bring in more of the very users you're complaining about.
The top comments are fine, so continue to let the little arrows on the left do the judging. This is a story about penis size, even the most serious commenter will be tempted to wise crack.
Just because you may not find everything interesting doesn't mean a significant portion of the members of this site won't. I started out doing art work, I shifted to programming by chance because I had a talent for it, and it paid well. I enjoy it, but it's never been my first choice of careers.
FWIW I like lobste.rs -- but there aren't "a lot of us" moving; the front page has one article with 60 comments, one with 28, one with 13, and the rest are in the single digits. The highest upvote total is 37. (Which you may view as a good thing, if you want a more focused / restricted site than HN.)
I joined a little more than 200 days before you, and my wife was here a year before me. She was here just at the end of the "mostly startup and programmer focused" era (she got to experience Erlang Day -- FWIW, here's a thread from 8 weeks after you joined that references both Erlang Day and too many stories about non-hacker topics: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1919897 ).
"This isn't about programming WTF" has been a complaint on HN for a long, long time. To the degree that the HN guidelines explicitly say that topics don't have to be about programming and startups, they just have to be "intellectually gratifying". Cultural perceptions of sexuality and gender as expressed in art are an intellectual topic (though they do tend to attract boring, uninsightful, crude commentary, as seen in the wall of grayed-out comments at the bottom of the page.)
> anything that gratifies one's intellectual curiosity
I'm not sure what is so wrong with this post. It's certainly more interesting than half the front page right now in my opinion. (To save you the pointless trouble, my account is 3016 days old.)
Six-Legged Giant Finds Secret Hideaway, Hides For 80 Years -
1138 points - 4 years ago - 173 comments
Everest is littered with dead, exposed bodies -
664 points - 5 years ago - 256 comments
How Doctors Die -
653 points - 4 years ago - 178 comments
A Dust Over India -
621 points - 4 years ago - 313 comments
The frequent fliers who flew too much
543 points - 4 years ago - 223 comments
What's wrong with the fact that my account is only 293 days old?
This suggests an important new brogrammer interview question
It's surprising how immature a community which prides itself on intellectualism can be when it comes to genitals, though.
fiancee had the same question this weekend after visiting Louvre's antic section - the stuff is just too small given proportions of statues. i am a +-regular gym goer, so even if i don't want i see all the stuff in locker rooms/shared showers, and albeit some of it is this small (and smaller), most is bigger.