Chances are you’ve never gotten a raging case of penis envy while perusing the statuary of Ancient Greece at the Met or similar. Those statues of Zeus and Hercules may be built like brick — or, rather, marble — houses, but there’s a reason why, by today’s standards at least, they’re generally unimpressive between the legs, and it’s not because they were all ’roided out juice pigs.
“Only grotesque, foolish men who were ruled by lust and sexual urges had large penises,” according to a recent piece on Quartz.
They could be talking about many of the guys I dated in my 20s, but in fact they’re talking about the masculine ideals of the Hellenistic period that dictated how heroes and gods were depicted in sculptures:
“Greeks associated small and non-erect penises with moderation, which was one of the key virtues that formed their view of ideal masculinity,” explains classics professor Andrew Lear, who has taught at Harvard, Columbia and NYU and runs tours focused on gay history. “There is the contrast between the small, non-erect penises of ideal men (heroes, gods, nude athletes etc) and the over-size, erect penises of Satyrs (mythic half-goat-men, who are drunkards and wildly lustful) and various non-ideal men. Decrepit, elderly men, for instance, often have large penises.”
It’s amazing how much can change in over 2,000 years! Of course, experts agree that, similar to the way that we now know that a huge cock doesn’t necessarily guarantee sexual satisfaction for either partner, in Ancient Greece a tiny tool wasn’t necessarily an indication of intelligence and moderation. Then, as now, the total package was tough to find: body of a Greek god, brain of a philosopher, and hung like a goat-man.