Why is the size of the human penis not in proportion to that of the rest of the body?

Why is the size of the human penis not in proportion to that of the rest of the body?

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According to this research

it is more likely for tall men to have large penis

but there are still many tall not having large

It is clearly not matching the size of other organs such as arms, legs, hearts, etc.

If you see a tall man you can see he has long arms, long thighs, bigger heart, etc.

similarly for short men, they have short arms , legs ,etc.

why it is not the same for penis?

why tall men may have short penis or short men may have long ones?

why the length of the penis does not match with make height similar to other organs?

According to genetics all phenotypical characters are inherited from both biological parents. The Y chromosome is mainly responsible for appearance of male characters and the only source of getting Y chromosome is from biological father. However other traits i.e. of height can be inherited from either biological father or mother. Therefore if the height of mother was taller and is dominant over father's height then the child will be having the mother's height. The Y chromosome related characters would remain same and you would not observe any change in male character. Therefore, you can not relate all physical characters with Y-chromosomal characters.

6 Penis Problems That Happen With Age

You’d like to think that at least some areas of our bodies will be spared the indignities of aging, but one day you realize: Mr. Happy gets older, too. “You don’t wake up one morning and realize it is different. It’s a gradual process, but starting around age 40, the changes become more noticeable,” says Madeleine Castellanos, M.D., author of "Penis Problems: A Man's Guide." So what does it mean when a penis looks and acts different?

Color Atherosclerosis, a common problem of aging, restricts blood flow, affecting heart, brain, and penis. With less blood in the area, the penis appears lighter in color, says Dr. Castellanos, who is also a sex therapist with a private practice in New York. This is nothing to worry about as long as you have regular checkups that show that everything else is in working order. Also, just as skin everywhere shows effects of aging, so does the penis skin. It may appear more mottled.

Size Touchy subject. The truth is the penis will shrink a little as time goes on as a result of decreased blood flow and testosterone. “By the time a guy is in his 60s and 70s, he may lose a centimeter to a centimeter and a half in length,” explains Dr. Castellanos. She adds, if a guy carries belly weight, the penis will appear smaller without it actually being smaller. “The penis starts inside the body. If you have belly fat, it comes down and extends over the base of the penis. The belly covers the base of the penis, making it appear shorter.”

But here's the big secret: Most women really don’t care about size. In fact, enormous shlongs can be quite painful. “It’s what he does with it and the rest of his body that matters,” says Lou Paget, a certified a certified AASECT sex educator and author of "The Great Lover Playbook."

Sensitivity Testosterone helps support nervous tissue. When its levels start to drop, there will be an accompanying decrease in sensitivity, making it more difficult to reach orgasm. Also, the erection won’t be as hard. “This is a case of use it or lose it,” says Dr. Castellanos. She explains that guys can protect their penile health by having erections every day. They don’t have to be point of orgasm, but daily erections keep the arteries in shape and bring blood flow to the area. “It’s just like if you don’t go to the gym, your muscles will get thinner and your arteries will close up. The same thing happens with a penis,” she adds.

Decline in urinary function Urinary problems—issues with being able to “go,” or with being able to hold back flow—have to do with prostate health. It affects 20% of men in their 40s, 50 to 60 percent of men in their 60s, and 80 to 90 percent of men in their 70s and 80s.

Preventive actions, courtesy of Dr. Castellanos:

  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get on your feet. Sitting all day puts a lot of pressure on the prostate.
  • Do moderate exercise several times a week to maintain the tone of the pelvic floor muscles. Jogging or brisk walking will do the trick. The Mayo Clinic also recommends Kegel exercises for men.
  • Take zinc and selenium.
  • Limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol increases the conversion of testosterone to estrogen and increases inflammation in the area.
  • Ejaculate several times a week to flush out the area.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) ED develops in 5 percent of men at age 40, and up to 15 percent at age 70. It can be the result of a variety of intertwined causes:

  • Biology -– illness, medications, poor health habits of the male partner
  • Psychological -– anxiety, depression, stress in either partner
  • Relationship -– lack of trust and intimacy, or emotional conflict between the couple
  • Psychosexual skills -– lovemaking skills of either partner, or the interplay between the two

Because of this complexity, simply popping a pill such as Viagra or Cialis without addressing the underlying cause as a couple will lead to failure, says Dr. Castellanos. “First, go to a physician for a complete checkup to rule out any chronic conditions. If that doesn’t yield any conclusive information, seek the help of a competent sex therapist, who can help you both psychologically and physiologically,” says Dr. Castellanos. You can find recommendations at the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (804-644-3288).

And now a word about man-o-pause

There’s been a lot of talk lately about andropause – basically, whether it truly exists or not. In theory, it is a significant response to hypogonadism (when the testicles are no longer producing normal levels of testosterone). With andropause, men can have symptoms similar to women in menopause such as fatigue, depression, night sweats, and low sex drive. Dr. Castellanos explains that very few men have true andropause that needs to be treated with testosterone. Since testosterone naturally declines with age and can be affected by many environmental factors, Dr. Castellanos says it’s important to…

  • Eat healthy
  • Get seven to eight hours of sleep nightly
  • Limit alcohol to one drink per day
  • Quit smoking
  • Keep stress levels under control

“All of these factors provide what is necessary for the body to produce optimal amounts of testosterone. The body is constantly responding to its environment and making adjustments accordingly. If the environment is too stressful (no sleep, bad diet, lots of stress), the body compensates by declining the production of testosterone - and vice versa,” explains Dr. Castellanos.

Even if you don't have true andropause, these healthy life changes can’t hurt.

Caution: Taking testosterone when it is not really needed impairs the body’s ability to make its own, so testicles and penis will actually shrink.

'Ideal' Penis Size Depends on Guy's Height

Put down the rulers, guys — whether your penis is the "right" size depends on the proportions of the rest of your body, a new study finds.

Women rate men with larger penises more attractive, but the returns on bigger genitals start to decrease at a flaccid length of 2.99 inches (7.6 centimeters), the researchers found. What's more, larger penises gave tall men a bigger attractiveness boost than shorter men. The study suggests that women's preferences for bigger penises could explain why human males have relatively big genitals for their body size.

Studies on women's preferences for penis size have been mixed, with some suggesting that women who frequently orgasm through vaginal stimulation are the pickiest, perhaps because penis size matters for that sort of stimulation. Men typically fret more about size than women, however, at least according to a 2007 review article in the British Journal of Urology International.

But studies have relied on questionnaires, which may not always glean honest answers, Australian researchers wrote today (April 8) in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. And in other studies, scientists have asked women to judge the attractiveness of male figures in photos with only penis size varied, when in fact no trait is ever evaluated in a vacuum, the scientists added. [The 7 Weirdest Animal Penises]

To compensate, the researchers, led by Michael Jennions of Australian National University, showed 105 young Australian women life-size computer-generated figures of nude men, varying the figures' flaccid penis size, height and shoulder-to-hip ratio. Height and shoulder-to-hip ratio have previously been shown as factors used by women to judge attractiveness. The computer simulations varied penis width in sync with length, so that all penises were proportional.

The results revealed that women preferred taller men as well as high shoulder-to-hip ratios (meaning that the wider the shoulders were than the hip, the more attractive the man). Shoulder-to-hip ratio was a major determiner of attractiveness, accounting for 79.6 percent of the variation in hot-or-not ratings.

Though the effect was less extreme, women also preferred larger penises, at least up to 5.1 inches (13 cm) flaccid, which was the largest computer-generated penis in the study. Beyond 2.99 inches, however, the additional attractiveness per extra length started to decline. That's good news for guys, according to a 2001 Italian study that found 2.99 inches flaccid to be below average.

When the researchers controlled for shoulder-to-hip ratio, they found that a larger penis had a greater effect on attractiveness for taller men. It's possible that a larger penis just looked more proportional on a taller man's body, the researchers wrote, or it could be that women were biased against shorter men to the extent that even large genitals didn't help.

Women's own features mattered as well, the researchers found: Taller women were more likely to find taller men attractive. Women with greater body mass per height were slightly more likely than thinner women to weigh penis size more heavily in their judgments of attractiveness, though the difference was small.

The findings might help explain why humans have remarkably large genitalia given their average body size, the researchers wrote. Male humans outgun any other primate species: For example, male gorillas can weigh as much as 400 pounds (180 kilograms), but their erect penis length is only about 1.5 inches (4 cm). Human males weigh about half of what gorillas do, but studies peg average erect or flaccid-but-stretched penis length from 4.7 inches (12 cm) to 6.5 inches (16.7 cm).

Evolutionary biologists theorize that large human penises might help remove sperm from competing males during sex, but in an era before clothing, women may have been drawn to mating with men whose genitalia caught their eye. Men with larger penises, then, may have passed on their genes more readily, resulting in the large-genitals trait being handed down the generations. In other words, guys may have women to thank for their greater-than-gorilla-sized genitals.

Are humans naturally monogamous or polygamous?

Science has yet to definitively pronounce on whether humans are naturally monogamous (lifelong male-female breeding pair) or polygamous (single male breeding with more than one female). The human male body provides ambiguous clues to the answer but the balance of evidence indicates that we are biologically inclined towards monogamy while retaining an urge to “sleep around”. A nicely written summary of this field was written by David Engber in Slate – published on October 9th, 2012.

Consider testicle size as an indicator of mating habits. Male chimpanzees compete with each other to have sex with as many female chimps as possible. A female chimp’s uterus at any given time will contain sperm from several males. If any particular male is to have a chance of impregnating a female, he must ejaculate lots of sperm many times a day and this calls for big cojones. Chimp testicles routinely weigh 150 grams to 170 grams, one third the weight of the chimp brain. On the other hand, humans have evolved relatively small testicles, maxing out at about 50 grams (3 per cent the weight of human brain). Human testicle size points towards conservative sexual habits.

Male to female size ratio (sexual dimorphism) in a species is also a clue as to whether monogamy or polygamy is practised. The bigger the gap in size between male and female, the greater the competition among males for access to females. For example, male gorillas are much bigger than females and polygamy is the rule. The dominant male in a gorilla group services a harem, hogging all the sex with all females in the group and denying the subservient males any “look-in”. The dominant male’s sperm doesn’t have to compete with other male sperm and so the gorilla has evolved relatively small testicles. Based on this gorilla pattern the relatively small human testicles point towards polygamy.

Considering his massive body size, the male gorilla has a surprisingly small erect penis, on average 6.4cm long. The average erect human penis on the other hand is 15.2cm long. However, if you look across the entire primate range, the human penis size is not remarkable – one baboon one third of human weight has a penis almost as long as the human penis. Twenty-nine per cent of primates are monogamous but human penis size does not point emphatically towards monogamy.

Penis configurations across primate species are generally much more interesting than the human penis. The penises of other primate species commonly have lumps, ridges, kinks, spines or flanges, whereas the straight and smooth human penis lacks such features (unless you are rather unfortunate!). Bland characters such as the human penis are usually found in monogamous animal species.

Also, DNA studies of male to female breeding ratios in Homo sapiens indicate about two women to every procreating man. This ratio is within the range for societies described as monogamous.

Monogamous habits

Paleontologist Owen Lovejoy has published evidence (Science, October 2nd, 2009) that human changeover to mostly monogamous habits occurred with our ancestor Ardipithecus ramidus, who lived 4.4 million years ago. Ardipithecus walked on two legs, freeing the hands, thereby allowing males to carry food to females. One can conjecture that females would favour males who offered them food, indicating how natural selection could introduce monogamy. And monogamy offered an obvious attraction to lower-ranking males. Monogamy is also a much more energetically economical arrangement than polygamy which is wasteful of time and energy as males fight over females.

Engber also describes cultural reasons to explain why monogamy became the norm. Polygamy tends to cause social problems, leaving many angry men without wives and inclined to behave in risky ways. This increases conflict and lowers productivity. A preference for male babies in China distorted the natural male to female societal ratio. In the period 1988 to 2004, the number of unmarried man doubled and so did crime.

In the modern human world monogamy is far more widely practised than polygamy. Polygamy is legal in 58 out of almost 200 sovereign states the great majority being Muslim countries in Asia and Africa, but polygamist marriage is not recognized in the rest of the world. I don’t think polyandry, where one woman has more than one husband, is legally recognised anywhere.

William Reville is an emeritus professor of biochemistry at UCC

Analyzing Digit Ratios

In the study, researchers analyzed the relationship between digit ratio and penis size in 144 Korean men 20 or older who were hospitalized for urological surgery.

The length of the index and ring fingers of the right hand were measured prior to surgery, and flaccid and stretched penile lengths were measured while the participant was under anesthesia.

The results showed that after accounting for age, weight, height, digit ratio, individual finger length, and body mass index (BMI), only height and digit ratio were significantly associated with penis length.

However, height was associated with flaccid penile length only. Stretched penile length was not associated with height but was negatively associated with digit ratio. That is, those with a lower digit ratio tended to have longer stretched penile length.

Researchers say because digit ratio has been shown to vary among different ethnic groups, a strength of this study was that it was conducted in a single ethnic group of men.

Experts say these results may offer researchers insights beyond the obvious cocktail conversation.

"Over the past decade, the correlation of digit ratio with sexual behavior and other aspects of sexual biology has been well-documented and there is a growing list of traits with links to digit ratio, although the associations are less well established," writes Denise Brooks McQuade, of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., in an editorial that accompanies the study.

"Thus 'hotness' aside, the value of digit ratio research for the biomedical scientist or clinician may come from the predictive abilities and risk-assessment qualities of the measurement," writes McQuade.


Choi, I. McQuade, D. Asian Journal of Andrology, July 4, 2011 online advance edition.

Your Penis Is Curved

When erect, it’s normal for your penis to have a slight bend because of your anatomy. (Just like your mother told you, no one’s perfect.) During an erection, blood vessels relax and open, allowing blood to rush into your arteries the blood gets trapped from the pressure and forms your erection, according to the Cleveland Clinic. The direction your penis curves toward depends on the proportion of your crus (the portion of your penis under the skin), according to research from the Journal of Andrology. Men with a short crus and a longer exposed penis generally have an erection that points downward, and men with a longer crus will have an erection that points straight up or outward. Sometimes a penis can bend to the left or right, but this is all good and fine it’s part of the “normal curve.”

If you have an extreme curve and painful erections, you could have Peyronie’s disease, but this typically occurs in men ages 40-60 and over. It’s not a fun picture: Plaque builds up in the penis and turns into hard scar tissue under the skin. Know that you up your risk for the condition if you have raditation treatment for prostate cancer, surgery, or have a penis injury during sex. (Yes, you can fracture your penis.) If you’re unsure of where your bend falls within the spectrum, consult a urologist.


Selection Analysis.

There were highly significant positive linear effects of height, penis size, and shoulder-to-hip ratio on male attractiveness (Table 1). Linear selection was very strong on the shoulder-to-hip ratio, with weaker selection on height and penis size (Table 1). There were diminishing returns to increased height, penis size, and shoulder-to-hip ratio (quadratic selection: P = 0.010, 0.006 and < 0.0001) [“B” in Table 1] and, given the good fit of the linear and quadratic models, the optimum values appear to lie outside the tested range (i.e., maxima are >2 SD from the population mean for each trait) (Fig. 2). A model using only linear and quadratic selection on the shoulder-to-hip ratio accounted for 79.6% of variation in relative attractiveness scores (centered to remove differences among women in their average attractiveness scores). The explanatory power of height and penis size when added separately to this model was almost identical. Both traits significantly improved the fit of the model (log-likelihood ratio tests: height: χ 2 = 106.5, df = 3, P < 0.0001 penis: χ 2 = 83.7, df = 3, P < 0.0001). Each trait, respectively, explained an extra 6.1% and 5.1% of the total variation in relative attractiveness.

Linear selection gradients and the matrix of quadratic and correlational selection gradients based on average rating for each of the 343 figures and means of gradients generated separately for each participant

Relationship between attractiveness and penis size controlling for height and shoulder-to-hip ratio (95% confidence intervals) indicating quadratic selection acting on penis size.

The effects of the three traits on relative attractiveness were not independent because of correlational selection (all P < 0.013) [“B” in Table 1]. Controlling for height, there was a small but significant difference in the rate of increase in relative attractiveness with penis size for a given shoulder-to-hip ratio (Fig. 3A). More compellingly, after controlling for shoulder-to-hip ratio, greater penis size elevated relative attractiveness far more strongly for taller men (Fig. 3B).

Contour map of the fitness surface (red: more attractive) for (A) penis length and shoulder-to-hip ratio (height controlled) and (B) penis length and height (shoulder-to-hip ratio controlled) (1 = mean attractiveness).

Participant and Response Time Analysis.

The average age of female participants was 26.2 ± 6.8 SD y old. The participants were 71.8% European, 20.9% Asian, and 7.3% from elsewhere with respect to ethnic origins. Female height was positively correlated with the linear effect that male height had on her rating of his relative attractiveness (i.e., the linear selection gradient for height calculated separately for each female) (Pearson’s r = 0.292, P < 0.0001) (Table 2). Females that were heavier than expected for their height (i.e., high relative weight/body mass index) showed a stronger linear effect of penis size on their rating of a male’s relative attractiveness (Pearson’s r = 0.227, P < 0.021) (Table 2). Female age was not correlated with the linear effect that any of the three male traits had on her rating of a male’s relative attractiveness (all P > 0.164) (Table 2). There was no effect of either the use of hormonal contraception or menstrual state on the linear effect of any of the three male traits on how a female rated relative attractiveness (all P > 0.166) (Table S1). We note, however, that these tests have limited power to detect a cycle effect, as women were not repeatedly surveyed during both the high and low fertility phases.

Correlations between female traits and the strength of linear selection on male traits

The average latency to respond and rank a figure when pooled across all trials was 3.08 ± 0.028 s (mean ± SD) (n = 5,142). Controlling for baseline variation in response time among women, the response time was significantly greater for figures with a larger penis (F1, 5034 = 15.099, P < 0.001), greater height (F1, 5034 = 23.819, P < 0.001), and a greater shoulder-to-hip ratio (F1, 5034 = 316.878, P < 0.001). Given that all three male traits were positively correlated with relative attractiveness, it is not surprising that, on average, there was also a significant positive correlation between a female’s attractiveness rating for a figure and her response time (mean correlation: r = 0.219, t104 = 8.734, P < 0.001, n = 105 females). Controlling for differences among women in their average attractiveness scores (i.e., using relative attractiveness), we found significant repeatability of the ratings given to the 343 figures (n = 14–16 ratings per figure) (F342, 4799 = 6.859, P < 0.001 intraclass correlation: r = 0.281). For example, the absolute difference in the rating score for the first and last (fourth) presentation of the control figure to the same female was 1.21 ± 0.10 (mean ± SE) (n = 105) on a seven-point scale. This is a high level of repeatability, as most figures had six adjacent figures that were identical except that they differed for one trait by 0.66 of a SD.

How Men Lost Their Penis Spines

Time to give thanks for your genome: A new study finds that at some point in our evolutionary history, humans lost a stretch of DNA that would have otherwise promoted the growth of spines on the penis.

The genetic loss is just one of millions that separates us from our closest primate relative, the chimpanzee, researchers report in the March 10 issue of the journal Nature. The team also reported the disappearance of a growth-suppressing genetic switch. That loss may have contributed to the enlargement of the human brain.

Many studies have emphasized the similarities between humans and chimpanzees we share 96 percent of our genomes, according to a 2005 study published in Nature. But that still leaves millions of genetic differences that explain the discrepancies between us and our primate cousins.

"The biggest question is, 'What is the molecular biology of becoming human?'" study co-author David Kingsley, a developmental biologist at Stanford University, told LiveScience.

What makes humans special

To find out, Kingsley and his colleagues compared the chimpanzee genome, sequenced in 2005, with the human genome, sequenced in 2001. They found millions of differences, but narrowed it down to a more manageable set of 510 segments of DNA that are present across many other animals, including chimps, but disappear in humans. Because the sequences are so well-preserved across species, they're likely to be functional (not so-called "junk DNA"), Kingsley said. And because they're missing in humans, they're likely to be the keys to what makes us special.

"The challenge is to match some of the differences between the genomes to the differences between the species," study co-author Gill Bejerano, a professor of computer science and developmental biology at Stanford, told LiveScience.

To do that, the researchers had to "roll up [their] sleeves and head for the lab," Bejerano said. The subset of 510 genes of interest still required whittling down, so the team recruited researchers from fields such as neuroscience and physical anthropology. The hunt was on for genes with known functions that could be linked to a physical change in humans.

Big brains and smooth penises

Of the 510 genes the researchers looked at, only one was a protein-coding gene, meaning it held the recipe for making a specific protein in the body. The rest mapped to noncoding parts of the genome, which often play the role of regulators, ensuring that the protein-coding genes get switched on and off at the right times.

Two particular categories of gene showed a propensity for nearby DNA losses, the researchers found. The first were genes related to neural development. One, the researchers found, normally suppresses cell growth. Humans still have this gene, but a nearby snippet of regulatory DNA is gone. In other animals, that snippet controls the expression of the gene in parts of the brain.

Thus, the loss of the gene in humans "may be one of the events that contributed to the expanded cell production in the developing brain," Kingsley said. In other words, the genetic change might be one reason humans have such big brains.

The second category of genes with absentee regulatory neighbors was a group of androgen receptor genes. Androgens are male hormones, responsible for the development of, among other things, penile spines in animals.

Penile spines are exactly what they sound like: small spines on the head of the penis of many animals. Plenty of animals sport the spikes, including a type of beetle called the bean weevil whose hard, sharp spikes scar the female beetle's reproductive tract during sperm delivery. Many rodents, primates, such as marmosets, and even pythons whose Y-shaped hemipenis is often spined in order to grip the walls of the female's opening, known as a cloaca. [Penis Myths Debunked]

In species with penile spines, Kingsley said, females tend to mate with multiple males. Penile spines may have evolved to clear out a competitor's sperm &ndash or to abrade the female's vagina, making her less likely to mate with others. Either way, Bejerano said, "the loss of the spines is most often seen in species that have gone more the monogamous way."

Mice whose androgen receptor gene is disrupted don't develop penile spines, Kingsley said. The same may be true of humans, who have lost 60,000 base pairs of DNA right next to that gene. (A base pair consists of two nucleotide molecules that sit opposite one another on complementary strands of DNA.)

"Humans have thrown away the molecular switch from a key gene that's required to form the spine," Kingsley said.

Setting humans apart

The researchers still have a list of 508 promising genes to investigate, Kingsley said, and experiments are ongoing to suss out the functions of many. Plenty of the millions of genetic differences not examined in this project are likely also important, Bejerano said.

"We think that the 510 [differences] we highlight here are important, but by no means are they the only 510 differences that may have contributed to who we are today," he said.

The researchers are also working to recreate the loss of the brain growth regulatory gene in mice. The change in size of the mouse brains should reveal how important that singular genetic loss was to the evolution of larger brains, Kingsley said.

The availability of full gene sequences also makes it possible to compare humans with other relatives, Kingsley said. The Neanderthal genome, for example, shows the same loss of both the brain growth and penile spine regulatory genes. That makes sense, Kingsley said, given that Neanderthals are known to have large brains and may have interbred with humans.

"We live at this time when the complete genome sequences of ourselves and our closest relatives are being isolated," Kingsley said. "You can now, for the first time, troll through the entire genome and enumerate all the ways we're different from other organisms."

You can follow LiveScience Senior Writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas.

7 Figure Drawing Proportions to Know

Before delving into the figure drawing proportions that I find most useful to remember, please note that these proportions refer to a standing figure. When the figure leans toward or away from you, or sits or lies down, measurements become more complicated and sometimes obscured, and will often no longer fall into the proportions listed below.

At the end of this article, get a free Figure Drawing Proportions to Know Infographic to use as a reminder of these basic proportions !

In a standing position, seven figure drawing proportions to keep in mind are:

1. The figure is approximately 7.5 heads tall.

2. About two heads down from the top of the figure is the line of the nipples.

3. About three heads down from the top of the figure is the navel, or belly button.

4. About four heads down from the top of the figure is the pubic bone.

5. The pubic bone is approximately the half-way point on the body.

6. The wrists line up with the greater trochanters of the femurs (upper leg bone).

7. The elbows line up with the navel (belly button).

Why is the size of the human penis not in proportion to that of the rest of the body? - Biology

There seems to have been something of a genital fixation amongst commentators on Vitruvius’ in the 1490s and early 1500s. Vitruvius’ book on architecture was a favourite for many renaissance theorists, and his small passage about human proportion was revisited several times, notably by Leon Battista Alberti in his On Sculpture, by Francesco di Giorgio Martini in his treatise on architecture, and, most famously, by Leonardo da Vinci (some of these are collected together here Leonardo’s version of the Vitruvian Man is to the right).

In a very tricky to interpret bit of text, Vitruvius attempts to create some rules to how each part of the human (for which read male) body relates to the rest (so the length of a foot is a sixth of the height of the entire man etc), and also says that” if a man lies on his back with his hands and feet outspread, and the centre of a circle is placed on his navel, his figure and toes will be touched by the circumference. Also a square will be found described within the figure, in the same way as a round figure is produced”.

Leonardo’s drawing is basically a response to Vitruvius’ ideas. He remeasured people himself and made a series of his own proportional drawings. His notes on proportions are written around the image (in mirror writing, of course). He agrees with Vitruvius that the stomach button could be the centre of a circle, but also argues that it is not the navel that’s the exact centre of the body, but the penis – or “virile member” to translate exactly (“Il membro virile nascie nel mezo dell’omo“). He’s shown this on the drawing with the horizontal line that goes across the base of the penis which is, indeed, half-way down the square.

Another commentator on Vitruvius, Cesare Cesariano, translated the Latin text in a published edition of 1521. His illustration of a perfectly proportioned man has the belly button as the centre of both the circle and the square, but as if to make up for that, his figure has a prominent erection.

In yet another edition of Vitruvius from the early sixteenth century, a manuscript now in Ferrara by an anonymous writer, his drawing of the canon of proportions is illustrated by a man who also seems to have an erect penis (unless I’m seeing things) – the illustration is to the right.

I have a few ideas why this should be, and am currently writing them into a chapter on life drawing, proportion, and the perfect body. I’m still puzzling over this a little bit though, and wonder how Cesariano’s original audience may have reacted to this image?


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