8 Filthy Jokes Hidden in Ancient Works of Art
No matter how far back you go, dick jokes have been the driving force behind mankind's sense of humor. Even ancient figures and civilizations we tend to think of as wise and dignified weren't shy about whipping out some solid boner jokes, even when creating works of art for royalty.
Which is why we wound up with ...
The Medieval Dick Tree
When we think of Medieval Italy, we think of what was arguably the cultural hub of the Middle Ages -- the birthplace of the Renaissance, Machiavelli, Dante and da Vinci.
Their influence is still felt today.
Italy saw the development of some of the most enduring literature, sculpture and art the world has ever seen. It also produced a painting of a tree of dicks.
Pictured: a tree of dicks, and what appears to be Snoopy's dog house.
Now before you light up the comments section claiming that this isn't a tree of dicks but merely a bunch of dicks standing around a tree, take a closer look at the branches:
What's going on here? Nobody really knows. Some think the dicks are meant to symbolize fertility, while others argue that the dicks are actually there as part of a political propaganda movement against a rival faction, because when you want to crush someone's spirits, you make a crude painting of some dudes in a penis grove getting attacked by crows. We like to believe that the artist just got so tired of painting historical battles and scenes from the Bible that he went dick crazy.
"To hell with Leviticus. The next 30 pages are all dicks."
Medieval Monks Doodle Poop Jokes (and Worse) on Their Scrolls
Medieval monks were even more dedicated than medieval painters. They would literally spend years hunched over their work in dimly lit scriptoria, slaving away to produce stunning illuminated manuscripts, painstakingly reproducing and illustrating the world's knowledge so it wouldn't be lost. Being the keepers of recorded human history combined with their devotion to religion tends to make us think of them as infinitely wise and spiritual, sort of like if Jesus and Morgan Freeman teamed up to open a library.
They're basically the same person.
With all the limits their work and their religious vows put on them, the monks needed a way of entertaining themselves, and what they came up with was marginalia. Marginalia are little doodles at the edges of manuscripts, and they are not only irrelevant to the text, but also completely and utterly fucked up beyond anything that could be mistaken for rational thought. We can only assume that the monks either thought nobody would ever notice (since pretty much the only people who could read and write back then were other monks), or they just didn't give a shit.
Here we have a stork with a man-ass and a giant dangling scrotum shitting out Ernest Hemingway:
You describe it better.
And here's a goat farting diarrhea at a squire:
There are hundreds of these drawings, and each one does its best to defy any kind of explanation.
They're essentially the medieval equivalent of a Monty Python cartoon.
Shakespeare Liked the F-Word
Since he's widely considered the greatest writer in the history of the English language, we tend to think of William Shakespeare as well-educated and dignified, a true master of his craft. However, what you might not have realized is that he liked to toss F-bombs around like Tony Montana breaking his foot on a trampoline.
"Motherfucking cocks. Verily."
Here's an excerpt from Henry V, Act IV, Scene 4, wherein the awesomely named "Pistol" tells a French prisoner, in clever alliterative language, that he's going to rape him.
PISTOL Master Fer. I'll fer him, and firk him, and ferret him. Discuss the same in French unto him.
If you think "firk" sounds like "fuck," it's because it totally does and that's totally what it means. Shakespeare's heroes didn't just like to declaim odes about bands of brothers. They also liked to tell prisoners of war they were going to straight fuck them in the ass.
Also, in the Merry Wives of Windsor, one of the characters inquires:
SIR HUGH EVANS Leave your prabbles, 'oman. What is the focative case, William?
Yep. "Fuckative," a play on words, since Sir Hugh is actually referring to the vocative case of the Latin language.
"Fuckative you, ma'am."
It's worth bearing in mind that these plays were performed in front of an audience that didn't have a script to follow. Exchanges like these would easily be lost among the massive amount of other lines being delivered, and anyone who caught them would probably just assume that they'd misheard. But Shakespeare knew, and the actors knew, and it must have been fun to know they were being paid to stand up and yell "fuck" to an audience that often included the royal family.
The Bayeux Tapestry
When we think of ancient cathedrals, we tend to picture massive ornate buildings constructed with absolute care and precision and decorated with intricate paintings, tapestries and stained glass windows. The Bayeux cathedral in France is no different, and when it was built in the 11th century it had its very own tapestry to go with it.
It also has a pool table.
The Bayeux Tapestry is an absolutely massive, graphic-novel style depiction of the Norman conquest of England in 1066 that measures almost 70 meters long and is embroidered in careful, minute, painstaking detail. It is a wonder of medieval art and justly famous for being an almost perfectly accurate historical representation of what happened during the conquest.
And then we get to this panel:
Here we see Harold (King of England) and William (soon-to-be William the Conqueror) arriving in the city of Rouen. Seems normal, right? Take a closer look at that guy on the right, next to the rocket ship:
There are two things to notice here. First, that's a priest punching a woman in the face. European history wasn't exactly kind to women, so this normally wouldn't be too shocking, but this dude literally has nothing to do with the story whatsoever. The caption to the image, loosely translated, reads, "Here's a priest smacking a woman." Also, some scholars theorize that the woman's name as it is written is actually medieval slang for "babe." So essentially, the caption reads, "Here's a priest smacking some broad."
But then we have to look below her, to the left:
Nobody knows who the hell this naked guy pointing at his swinging man-salad is, or what he's doing there at the bottom of the tapestry. It's like whoever made it simply thought, "This son of a bitch is 70 meters long, who the hell is going to notice one tiny naked boner?"
Us, history. The answer is us.
The Cerne Abbas Giant
Ancient peoples liked to modify the landscape of the Earth. Stonehenge, those Easter Island heads and the Nazca Lines in Peru all come to mind, with an air of mystery and subtle dignity that has managed to survive hundreds of years of civilization. And then there's this:
The Cerne Abbas Giant, a huge etching in Southern England, isn't exactly subtle. Its giant thunderous erection is right there in your face, sprawled across the English countryside. At first it seems like this is probably some ancient pagan fertility symbol, dating back to a time when huge boners weren't automatically hilarious.
That was a really, really long time ago.
However, it turns out that there's no written mention of the giant prior to the 17th century, which has led some scholars to believe that it's actually an in-your-face cartoon of Oliver Cromwell.
That shut him up.
People weren't exactly the biggest fans of the aggressive Cromwell back then, and since he was called "England's Hercules," and Hercules used to be represented with a club, there's a pretty good possibility that this is the case. And what better way to insult him than by carving a picture of him as a naked crazy barbarian with comically huge nipples and a giant boner pointed straight up at his face? Although we question the decision to make fun of a guy with a drawing that he would only be able to see while flying a helicopter, something which many scholars agree did not exist back then.
Ancient Rome has left us with some of the most wonderful and majestic ruins in the world. When we think of Rome, we think of the grandeur of the Coliseum, the birth of a judicial and political system that is still the wellspring for most institutions in the Western world and Russell Crowe fighting a giant in a baby mask and his pet tiger.
If this is history, we want to go back in time right now.
What we don't generally think of is graffiti and gay jokes.
However, we definitely should, because not only did the Romans like to graffiti their majestic buildings like truck stop bathrooms, but they also did so in the most childish ways possible. We've become aware of this ancient phenomenon mostly through the excavation of Pompeii, but it's fairly safe to assume that graffiti showed up pretty much everywhere. And what those ancient bastards wrote wasn't exactly Plato's Apology.
Outside the wall of a brothel, one guy scribbled:
Weep, you girls. My penis has given you up. Now it penetrates men's behinds. Goodbye, wondrous femininity!
Experts consider this the greatest way to come out of the closet outside of gay sex on the moon.
On the other hand, a guy named Salvius apparently couldn't wait for his friend Amplicatus to make a similar declaration, so he did it for him:
Amplicatus, I know that Icarus is buggering you. Salvius wrote this.
But really, who wasn't Icarus buggering?
The ancient Romans also used their public wall space to make questionable statements about the amount of women they'd had sex with, much like the modern-day meatballs that troll around Hooters in collared shirts with dragons on them:
Floronius, privileged soldier of the 7th legion, was here. The women did not know of his presence. Only six women came to know, too few for such a stallion.
Although we're concerned about Floronius' phrasing. The way he writes it sounds like he was some kind of rape ninja that "only" managed to claim six victims before being chased away into the night.
The Sistine Chapel
Michelangelo, one of the most famous artists ever, painted and sculpted a shitload of dicks in his lifetime, though most of them weren't meant to be funny.
Most of them.
He literally smothered the roof of the Sistine Chapel with penises, something that didn't sit well with Biagio da Cesena, who was the Pope's Master of Ceremonies. Biagio was something of a religious purist (which is understandable, given his job and all) and he was offended by the fact that the Sistine Chapel had naked people frolicking all over the damn place, going so far as to say that that the fresco was more suited to a brothel.
A ... specialty brothel.
Michelangelo, who was stressed enough already, decided that Biagio da Cesena could go fuck himself to death and incorporated him into the Chapel's paintings.
That's Biagio on the right.
As an epic "screw you," Michelangelo painted Biagio as Minos, the judge of the underworld. That would already be pretty bad, since Minos is a demon and Biagio da Cesena was a cardinal, but as you can see, Michelangelo also decided to paint a snake biting him in the dick. And in case the meaning wasn't sufficiently clear, he gave him the ears of a jackass.
Greeks and Romans Add Insult to Injury
The sling was a ubiquitous weapon in antiquity, both because it was cheap to manufacture and because it was incredibly effective. Most sling bullets were manufactured out of lead, which, being quite soft, lent itself to being easily inscribed with a sharp knife. Now any of you who have read Homer might expect the bullets to be inscribed with heartfelt prayers to the Gods and noble speeches on war, and yes, you're right, some of them were.
This one just says, "Continued on next rock."
Most, on the other hand, weren't quite so poetically minded. Thus we have bullets cropping up all over Greece and Italy bearing inscriptions from the relatively tame "Take that," "This belongs to you" and "Eat this," all the way to "I hope this hits you in the dick" and "Fuck you." So, once your friends were done digging the lead bullet out of your skull, they could all have a laugh at the charming wit of whoever put it there.
"Flavius, let me borrow one of your bullets. They're hilarious."
Some messages were even more topical, such as one from the siege of Perusia, Italy (around 30 B.C.). The Perusians were being systematically starved, but they were trying their best to act like everything was fine, hoping the besieging army would get discouraged. A bullet recovered from the ruins reads "Esureis et me celas," which essentially means, "I know you're starving, dipshit."
To pour extra salt in the wound, the bullets were shaped like animal crackers.
For more modern ideas that were here before us, check out 11 Modern Technologies That Are Way Older Than You Think and 6 Depraved Sexual Fetishes That Are Older Than You Think.
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