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Right-left and the scrotum in Greek sculpture

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The scrotum in humans is asymmetric, the right testicle being visibly higher than the left in most men. Paradoxically, it is also the case that the right testicle is somewhat larger, rather than smaller, as might be expected. Greek classical and pre-classical art, which took great care in its attention to anatomical detail, correctly portrayed the right testicle as the higher, but then incorrectly portrayed the left testicle as visibly larger. The implication is that the Greeks used a simple mechanical theory, the left testicle being thought to be lower because it was larger and hence more subject to the pull of gravity. The present study examines data on scrotal asymmetry in more detail, and puts them in the context of Greek theories of functional differences between the right side and the left side.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University College London, UK

Publication date: April 1, 2004

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