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David by Michelangelo Buonarroti




In 1501, 25-year-old Michelangelo Buonarroti begins working on his colossal masterpiece, the 17-foot-tall marble David. From a huge block of marble that has been abandoned decades earlier by another sculptor, Michelangelo takes on the challenge of living up to Donatello and other precursors who had sculpted the same heroic figure. The David, portrayed in the Bible as a young shepherd who slew the giant Goliath and went on to become a valiant and just Hebrew king, is a fit symbol of courage and civic duty to guard the city of Florence.



Michelangelo was considered the greatest living artist in his lifetime, and ever since then he has been held to be one of the greatest artists of all times. A number of his works in painting, sculpture, and architecture rank among the most famous in existence. Michelangelo is one of the greatest artists of all time, a man whose name has become synonymous with the word "masterpiece". As an artist he was unmatched, the creator of works of sublime beauty that express the full breadth of the human condition.



In Autumn 1504 the Florentines witnessed an exceptional event: after four days travelling round the city, transported with the care and attention normally reserved for great events, inside a wooden cage running on greased beams, Michelangelo's David finally reached its destination, the Piazza della Signoria - and was immediately celebrated as one of the greatest masterpieces of the Renaissance.



David is considered a masterpiece, an ideal male form combining heroic strength and human uncertainty. It is erected in 1504 in the public plaza of Florence, the Piazza della Signoria. In 1873, the original is moved to the Accademia delle Belle Arti, where it is better protected for posterity, and a copy of the work is erected in the plaza in 1882. The key to the David's appeal is Michelangelo's magnificent projection of man at his best - vigorously healthy, beautiful, rational, competent. It expresses a heroic view of man and of a universe auspicious to his success. Such a projection is of immeasurable worth to anyone who holds such a sense of life - whether that person lived 500 years ago or lives today.



Detail of Michelangelo's famous statue of David, showing a young man's penis with a relatively long and tight foreskin. This is the penis of his model - the real David was circumcised.


There was controversy over the statue’s supposed Biblical reference, since the statue seemed to portray an uncircumcised male, whereas the historical King David was undoubtedly circumcised. It was also suggested that this was a conscious decision in Michelangelo’s effort to emulate the ancient Greek aesthetic ideal, which regarded the circumcised penis as mutilated.

While conservative groups have sought to categorize the statue’s brazenness with soft pornography the statue is still held as a great work of art.



Legend has it that the penis on Michelangelo's David was originally supposed to be larger, but after an accidental slip of the chisel chopped it off, Michelangelo had to fashion a new organ from the remaining marble. While this is an amusing story, it has no historical basis. Michelangelo, like many Renaissance artists, sculpted in the classical style, which mimicked ancient Greco-Roman sculpture. Many Roman sculptors followed this tradition, and Michelangelo followed the examples set by the Greeks and Romans. Here is a quote from sexual theorist Camille Paglia on the subject:

"Most of the world has probably always esteemed a large penis, except for Ancient Greece. I think that was an exception to the rule. In Greece, there was a period of interest in proportion -- they were working out the ideal proportions of the human body... Roman statues were in the style of Greek nudes, and nudes that survived from the Greco-Roman period always had small penises. In art, the penis has often been extremely small, imitating the Classical Greek style. "


This site ( suggests that the Greeks used penis size as a convention to distinguish between ordinary mortals and fertility symbols such as satyrs.

  Other theories:  
  1) The ancient Greeks had small dicks, or 2) They were making a statement of serious vs. humorous statuary via the dick length 3) They were "growers" not  showers" 4) The culture valued large testicles over large dicks, just like some folks value a large ass over large tits.  

Proportion meant at least as much then as it does now. Realism meant one could not mess with the relative proportions of various parts too much, but the various famous artists of the high classical period did think a great deal about the proportions of their statues. So it would have been common to alter the size of some body parts slightly to get the desired overall synergistic effect about the "perfect" body.




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