Where’s Willy?

History according to Amy

You’re not likely to be mindblown when I tell you that a lot of Ancient Greek and Roman art features men and women in all of their glorious nudity.

The image of large, muscular men and gods in all their stark white marble nudity is probably the first thing that pops into many a head when pondering greek sculpture.  But what a lot of you may have also noticed when viewing these art works in and around Europe is that many of them are mysteriously missing their sausages.  And by “sausages” I don’t mean that they’re in need of a cheeky trip to the local butchery to restock the larder — I mean that their penises have apparently all been snapped off.

This mass vandalism of marble men is mostly thanks to the Renaissance, when things started to get all kinds of raunchy in the art world.

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I don’t know what era this comes from.  It’s not even near the Vatican.  I took this photo in Naples.  It just seems relevant…

Originally all of this nudity in art had been intended to represent man in his purest form and therefore portray “innocence” before God.  This nudity was also supposed to remind us all that we’d all been made in “His” image.  And what better place to create a vast collection of religious artworks than in the Vatican city itself?

Unfortunately some of the art being churned out during the Renaissance was starting to push the boundaries of naughtiness, which ultimately ruined things for everybody.  The Protestants of the 16th century were all a bit too prudish to appreciate the human form in all of its glorious nudity and this inevitably led to the pious Protestants pointing their fingers and accusing the Catholics of all being saucy minxes. 

The Catholics were allegedly supporting this raucous and illicit Renaissance-caused behaviour by filling the Vatican with pictures of boobies, buttocks, and willies.  In an effort to appear more demure, one of the Popes in the 16th century took it upon himself to go around and lop the doodles off all of the statues he could find; lest the Protestants be correct in their claims that the Catholics were all being kinky fuckers.

Personally I enjoy the mental image of a jolly old Catholic Pope sneaking around the Vatican gardens under the cover of darkness, snapping the marble diddles off all the naughty roman statues and then stuffing them up the poofy sleeves of his gown.

That is probably not exactly how it happened, but it’s how I like to image that the events of these times unfolded.

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Some unfortunate victims of the Fig Leaf Campaign

Either way, this basically led to the beginning of what we now all fondly refer to as the “fig-leaf campaign” in which any artistic nudes, be it a painting or otherwise, had their naughty bits covered up.  Scraps of material were often painted to strategically lie over their loins.  Fig leaves, or any other convenient form of shrubbery that the art-censors could justify, were also used.  On occasion, naked people were even completely repainted fully clothed.  Many of the statues even had little fig leaves plastered over the areas where their manhoods once hung.  It was as if everyone had suddenly just shown up in Adam and Eve cosplay.Fig_tree_leaf_(heraldry).JPG

One fine example of the ongoing fig leaf tomfoolery is the plaster-cast of Michaelangelo’s David that stands in the Victoria & Albert museum of London.  Not long after David’s arrival in London in 1857 he was set upon by overzealous fig leaf craftsmen and one of the most famous creations to come out of the Renaissance had his genitals cloaked by a giant plaster fig leaf.  Luckily it was just a half-metre long removable addition that was whipped out on serious occasions to prevent feeble-minded females from blushing at the sight of David’s special package.

I do have to say that on behalf of the entire world: thank goodness nobody got their nasty plaster-wielding hands on the original.

Not every statue who had his penis snapped off was treated to a little plaster patch-up, however. Sometimes they were just left with the chipped remains of their marble genitalia.

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This unfortunate fellow is left with some lonely testicles and not a fig leaf in sight!

These de-doodled statues do make for unusual viewing though.

Apparently the testicles were all deemed non-offensive and were consequently left dangling there without their sausagey companions. 

Beans without a frankfurter look really odd I reckon — though this effect may be somewhat exaggerated by the already bare nature of the cold marble stone.

Nevertheless, my purpose here is not to discover whether or not marble testicles without an accompanying penis looks weird.  My purpose here is to ponder what happened to all the doodles that the Pope did lop off?

Is there a box of marble willies hidden in some dark corner of the Vatican?

Surely such small bits of marble would not be worth repurposing?  So were they all sent out with the trash and are cluttering up an old landfill, waiting to be dug up by future archaeologists?

If not, then what did the Pope do with them?

Perhaps news is soon to break that someone has found a dusty old chest in some long forgotten attic of the Apostolic Palace.

I can’t help but chortle to myself as I imagine them prying open the lid expecting to find it full of divine treasures, somehow misplaced with the passing of time — but instead they find a hoard of disembodied marble willies!

O, what a picture of confused dismay would their countenance portray!

Let us rally the troops and set out not on a “manhunt”, but a manhood hunt.

Let us find the marvellous marbles and restore them to their rightful resting places nestled comfortably in the groin of a Greek God.  Or whoever the statue depicted before it was de-penised…

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Fake David – Fortunate escapee of the Fig Leaf Campaign

This is certainly a question for the ages.

Where are all the willies?

Note:  Absolutely none of this has been fact checked.  It is entirely possible that I accidentally invented everything in this article.

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Hercules also maintain his appropriate parts and I, for one, am jolly glad about it.
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This also lacks any semblance of relevance to the above article.  It’s just a fun photograph of my beloved father drinking from a fountain in Amalfi.

Men. Just a face and a penis. #truthbomb

A post shared by I Am Amy (@ohmycrayon) on

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2 thoughts on “Where’s Willy?

  1. I love this article, your style makes it so much fun to read. I read too many pages on this topic, but this will be my favourite (even if not the most informative). It’s pretty helpful too, unfortunately not many articles mention the actual victims of the campaign, they just rant about the leaves, anyways. Thank you! I will use this site as a source in one of my exam projects.

    1. Definitely don’t use this as a source because I have in no way fact checked any part of it!!!!! But I’m so glad that you enjoyed reading it 😀 😀

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