A Gallery of Intact Penises in Art

1. Classical Antiquity 2. Pompeii 3. Renaissance 4. Post-Renaissance 5. Modern (post-photogrpahy)

These pictures are intended for USAmerican women and others who may have never seen intact ("uncircumcised") penises before - or not known what they were looking at.

This entire sequence - the next five pages - has been turned into a slide show with music, off-site.

1. Classical Antiquity


Zeus/Poseidon of Artemisium+penis inset

Poseidon throwing a trident (some say Zeus throwing a thunderbolt), more than 2450 years old, fished out of Cape Artemisium in 1928, now an icon of Greece.

bronze, 210cm
Athens, Archeological Museum


Etruscan kneeling satyr

This bronze satyr killing a snake, 44 cm high and 2350 years old, is from the mysterious civilisation of Etruria in northwestern Italy. He originally supported a large vase.

Kneeling satyr's penis

Unlike most satyrs, his penis is neither outsized nor erect.

Wittelsbacher Ausgleichfonds, Munich


Etruscan pot

On this bronze Etruscan pot from Pareneste (Palestrina), wing-heeled Hermes brings three goddesses to Paris (seated) for his judgement.

Hermes and Paris on Etruscan pot
Hermes' penis

The 63cm high pot is finely detailed

late 4th C BCE,
Rome, Villa Giulia


Antikythera youth Antikythera youth's penis

This larger-than-life bronze youth was fished up near the Greek island of Antikythera (along with the amazing Antikythera mechanism) in 1900. He was cast about 340 BCE, probably by Euphranor. He originally held something in his right hand, perhaps an apple. He has a prominent acroposthion and a visible corona.

National Archaeological Museum, Athens


Victorious Athlete Victorious athlete's penis

This bronze statue of a victorious athlete touching the olive wreath on his brow was fished out of the Adriatic Sea near Fano, Italy in 1964. It was probably made ~300-100BCE for a shrine at Olympia or Delphi. and plundered from Greece by Rome in a ship that was wrecked.

Though realistic, his penis is small after the Greek ideal. Despite centuries of submersion and encrustation, what may be the realistic detail of a superficial dorsal vein has survived.

- the Getty Villa,
claimed by Italy

Greek vase
Metropolitan Musum of Art, New York
phallic vase 2, Copenhagen
Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen

The terracotta vase on the left (and presumably that on the right) was made in eastern Greece (probably on the island of Rhodes) 2500 to 2550 years ago. Phallus vases are a rare and distinctive kind of archaic Greek pottery. They were used to store perfumed oils, presumably for erotic or medicinal purposes. Archaic Greek potters sculpted vases in a wide variety of shapes, including human heads, legs, and animals. These "peniform" vases reflect a playfulness and unselfconsciousness about eroticism that recurs throughout Greek Art.


The Dying Gaul
The Dying Gaul's penis

The Dying Gaul shows a Celt from Galatia, whom the Greeks regarded as barbarian, so they did not give him a classic small penis.

The artist has shown his acroposthion, like his scrotum and public hair, in detail.

Roman marble copy after a bronze original attributed to Epigonos
from a commemorative group at Pergamon c. 230-220 BCE, Capitoline Museum, Rome


Laoco÷n warned the Trojans against "Greeks bearing gifts". Poseidon sent sea serpents to strangle him and his sons as punishment. This group, thought to be made ~40-20 BCE by Agesander, Athenodoros and Polydorus from the island of Rhodes, was unearthed in 1506 near the site of the Domus Aurea of the Emperor Nero.

Laocoon and his Sons Laocoon's penis

Laco÷n's acroposthion may be damaged, but his and his sons' penises are among the few in the Vatican Museum that have not been attacked with hammers or bowdlerised with drapes or figleaves.

Vatican Museum



Depictions of erections follow.













Etruscan satyr

This 2500-year-old Greek satyr's penis is comically large, his foreskin still covering most of his glans.

Satyr's penis

Nymphs beware!

National Archaeological Museum, Athens


"Thou foster-child of silence and slow time...
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?"

- Keats

Grecian urn

This amphora, painted by Euthymides, son of Polias, over 2500 years ago, was found in Vulci in Etruria.

Reveller on a Grecian urn


The reveller's small penis is typical.

Staatiche Antikensammlungen, Munich


Why so small?

"...the artistic evidence implies that over-large genitals were considered aesthetically unpleasing by the Greeks and Romans. ...the ideal type of male beauty epitomised in classical sculpture, Greek and Roman, normally depicts genitals of somewhat less than average size...certainly never more. Consequently, the exaggerated genitals of Priapus made him seem an ugly and grotesque figure, though benevolent.

"Sex or Symbol?
Erotic Images of Greece and Rome"
Catherine Johns

It has also been pointed out that many of these images are of athletes, and during and immediately after hard exercise (and not only in cold water) the penis is considerably shrunk and the testicles hoist high. This also affords a commonsense explanation for the apparently phimosed appearance of the foreskins in classical statuary and vase painting.

The faces of people on bowls are almost invariably in profile, but we do not suppose the Greeks considered that full-face was "aesthetically displeasing". So the small penises shown on ordinary mortals may have been no more than a convention, to distinguish them from fertility figures such as satyrs and Priapus.


Drunken man on a Greek bowl Drunken man's penis
This drunken man supporting himself on a stick and vomiting is presumably meant to be mocked. That may be why he is shown with a normal-sized penis, perhaps partically erect (but still fully covered).

- the Getty Villa


We should never assume that the Greeks, Romans and Etruscans considered images of penises as we do. They used them on amulets to ward off the evil eye, with perhaps no more thought for sexuality than we consider crossed fingers to be a Christian symbol. And the fertility of plants, beasts and people was ever an issue, since it could not be taken for granted or brought under human control by material means.


gold amulet

Roman gold amulet, 1st century CE, about 1 cm across

London, British Museum


Herm Herm's penis

"Herms" were common in ancient Greece, protecting the area if paid due reverence.


Why always covered?

Chorus: My Comedy's a modest girl: she doesn't play the fool
  By bringing on a great thick floppy red-tipped leather tool
  To give the kids a laugh....

Aristophanes, "The Clouds"
translated by Alan H. Sommerstein

The Greeks considered only the glans, not the whole penis, to be obscene. In the gymnasium, men kept their glanses out of sight by tying a thong (kynodesme) around their foreskins, and Hellenised Jews sought foreskin restoration to make that possible. The "red-tipped" phallus that the Chorus of The Clouds disdained would have belonged to a circumcised Egyptian (leather intact phalluses were part of the costume in all comedies, including The Clouds). The glans was only shown on purely phallic images, such as those used in religious festivals. On those, the artists showed wrinkling to indicate the foreskin.


Lovers on a Greek bowl Lover's penis

Even on the point of penetration, erotic images showed the foreskin as fully forward.

A red-figure jug by the Shuvalov painter, 2400 years old.
Berlin Antikenmuseum

secret pilgrim figurine with cover off secret pilgrim's penis
This bronze "secret pilgrim" figurine conceals a phallus with retracted foreskin under his  cucullus. The cucullus was worn  by shepherds and hunters for protection from the rain, but also by high-ranking people travelling incognito. They were believed to be protected by the fertility god Priapus.  Roman, 0-200 CE.

- The Thorvaldsen Museum, Copenhagen



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