A 17th century manual on sex and pregnancy attributed to Aristotle and banned from sale in Britain for more than 200 years will now be on auction this month.
"Aristotle's Compleat Master-Piece" first appeared around 1680 and sets out various ideas on sexual relationships and how to
conceive, the Telegraph reported Friday. It was banned in the mid-18th century and remained a forbidden text until the prohibition was lifted in the 1960s.
Aristotle instructing Alexander the Great
Now, an edition printed in the 1760s goes on sale in the Edinburgh auction house Lyon and Turnbull. "It was very popular. It was probably the most printed text of its kind and it went through a lot of editions," Cathy Marsden, a book specialist at the auctioneers, was quoted as saying.
"It's fascinating reading. It tells an amazing story about the changing perspectives on sex," she said. The book reportedly served as a reference guide for amateur midwives and young married couples and includes dire warnings about the possible consequences of extra-marital sex. "There's nothing in it that would really be considered dirty in our society now. It's funny more than anything," Marsden said.
"There are various things which warn parents about what could happen to their children if they sinned whilst conceiving them, perhaps by having sex outside marriage. It would say that your baby would be born all hairy or it would suggest that Siamese twins were the result of the parents' sins, she said.
"There are also interesting bits about the 17th century notion that it was considered beneficial for a woman to enjoy sexual intercourse in order to conceive. It suggests that both men and women should enjoy sex," she said. The book was attributed to Aristotle but there is little of his work in the text. Nothing is known of the actual author.
Marsden said it was not known why it was attributed to Aristotle but there was a possibility that the writers were just trying to make it sound better or more worthy. She said the pictures in the book were thought to be one of the main reasons it became a forbidden text.