preparing men for erection labor in the 13th-century Islamic world

Sultan's potions for men's sexual labor

An Arabic book entitled The Book of Choice Sexual Stimulants and the Sultan’s Potions describes itself as a work that the eminent thirteenth-century scholar Nāsir al-Dīn al-Tūsī wrote at the commission of the caliph. The book is a reference work for Muslims too poor to afford a physician’s services. Apparently the caliph sought to ensure that the men of his realm could perform long and hard erection labor for women.[1] The Sultan’s Potions exemplifies the authoritative social construction of ordinary men’s obligation to engage in risky, uncompensated erection labor.

The Sultan’s Potions constructs large sexual risk for men. In its introduction, it declares:

As for the view held by a number of scholars that sexual intercourse is bad and harmful, and that it is not necessary for anyone to practice it, but rather that it should be abandoned, this is devoid of foundation, and erroneous … . It is clear that this statement is nonsensical and only applies to those who engage in coitus while being ignorant of the time and circumstances when it should or should not take place, of the conditions and regime it requires. [2]

Authorities today tend not to describe heterosexual intercourse as bad and harmful in itself. Yet rape-culture culture makes ordinary sexual interaction fraught with the risk of onerous punishment of the man. The Sultan’s Potions emphasizes the importance of men risking their well-being to navigate the rules of sexual interaction:

When coitus takes place in these cases, it results in the above-mentioned ailments {dousing of “innate heat”} and the individual’s destruction, in contrast with those who know how to manage coitus and its conditions. In the latter case, sexual intercourse does not cause any harm; rather, it is hugely beneficial, as we have mentioned, whereas there is no greater human pleasure than that of sexual intercourse. It is part of the natural disposition and it is mixed into the make-up of human beings and all other animals.

Men throughout history have carried a vastly gender-disproportionate burden of soliciting sexual relations. Socially constructing sex as a matter of great risk (great harms and great benefits) puts men at great risk.

The Sultan’s Potions instructs men in burdensome recipes for enhancing their penises. Consider this recipe:

Take house sparrows before they have acquired their flight feathers, tie them up with a string and hang them from the entrance of a beehive. Then, agitate the bees so that they start stinging the sparrows. Once the birds have been stung several times, take them down quickly and slaughter them, making sure not to waste one drop of their blood. Put them in a pot and pour over the aforementioned aromatic oil until the birds are fully cooked with it. Cover the pot and place on a fire until the sparrows are cooked thoroughly. Then, remove them, and strain the water with a cloth until the essence of the birds becomes infused in the oil.

With the help of a young, beautiful, warmly receptive woman, or one at least remembered as such, a man’s penis will swell strongly without any need for oil from sparrows stung by bees. Moreover, men don’t actually need their bodies to be activated with the help of ants:

Another recipe: take 100 small and black ants and put them in a flask. Pour on five dirhams of blue liquorice oil,  which should cover the ants; close the flask and hang it in the hot sun for 20 days. Then, vigorously pound everything until the mixture has fermented. At the time it is needed, take one qīrāt of Indian aloewood, crush it finely, put it in ten dirhams of hot water and wash the penis, hands, feet and armpits with the water. Take one drop of the ant oil from the glass, or another small quantity, without the water, and rub it on your fingers, teeth, armpits and elbows.

Procedures for lengthening a man’s penis are even worse. Here’s one:

Take fresh thick sheep dung and dry amber in an amount that is required for rubbing the penis, as well as one qīrāt of musk. Pound it and mix vigorously with two dirhams of very finely ground coconut. Get into the bath and forcefully massage your penis with the cyperus oil until your member become red. Then rub the ingredients mixed with the sheep dung on the penis in the way that you rub in a seal, and wrap it in a cloth from dawn till dusk. Afterwards, remove the cloth and wash the penis. You will see a wonder, since the penis will have grown twice in size. [3]

Men, DON’T DO THAT. Your God-given penis is sufficient for you. Don’t let gynocentric society convince you otherwise.

Men engage in arduous erection labor to please women as well as themselves. The Sultan’s Potions underscores the extent of men’s sexual obligations to women. To enable one man to serve many women, one potion:

strengthens coitus to the extent that even when one has intercourse for three days running, one need not worry about growing weak. One is able to pleasure ten slave girls and freewomen every night, without any trouble or discomfort, as stated by the ancient philosophers and physicians.

Men commonly have been burdened with the obligation of working outside the home during the day. Men then have to come home and take on the double burden of work within the home all night long. Is it any wonder that men’s lifespans are on average about five years shorter than women’s? One recipe for men’s sexual potency hints at men’s double burden of labor:

It is effective and you will see it works wonders. Even if you had ten slave girls you would be able to pleasure them without any trouble or a change in temperament. It has been tried and tested.

In ordinary circumstances, if a man has to provide sexual pleasure to ten women every night, he’s likely to become exhausted and irritable. That change in temperament is completely understandable. But men are socially disparaged for complaining, even under outrageous circumstances. The Sultan’s Potions provides pharmaceutical solutions to men’s double burden. One potion even promises to help men with the problem of “growing bored” with their sexual obligations.

In producing and disseminating knowledge, men haven’t shown adequate regard for their own gender. Ancient philosophers and physicians were predominately men. They generated the knowledge recorded in The Sultan’s Potions. That knowledge included:

the position during coitus that provides great pleasure to both the man and woman, as stated by the ancient philosophers and physicians who gained knowledge of this from their experiments. [4]

While men seek knowledge on how to provide great pleasure to men and women, women seek reproductive rights only for women. While men seek knowledge on how to provide great pleasure to men and women, gynocentric society advances outrageous claims about men raping women. Men love women more than women love men.

The war on men’s sexuality threatens the experimental method, scientific knowledge, and great pleasure for men and women. Women must step up and fight on behalf of men.[5]

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[1] The introduction to The Sultan’s Potions states that the “Caliph of Qāzān” commissioned it because his son suffered paralysis of the lips. Medieval scholars recognized the importance of kissing as an activity leading toward sex. Newman declared:

the focus on the importance of female pleasure doing coitus and the benefits of kissing was at the heart of another innovation attributable to the Arabic tradition: foreplay.

Newman (2014) p. 54. That’s surely an exaggeration. Consider, for example, the presentation of kissing on the path to sex in Egbert of Liège’s early eleventh-century textbook for schoolboys, Fecunda ratis. See note [2] and related text in my post on Fecunda ratis.

Newman identified the “Caliph of Qāzān” as Abaqa Khan. He reigned from 1265 to 1282. Nāsir al-Dīn al-Tūsī lived from 1201 to 1274. However, another scholar reads the text as “Ghazan Khan.” He reigned from 1295 to 1304. That reading contributes to questioning whether the text is actually a medieval text.

Nāsir al-Dīn al-Tūsī extravagantly described himself in the third person:

The caliph asked the shaykh of the world, the king of scholars of the age, the teacher of scholars of all time, the pillar of Islam and all Muslims, preceptor of kings and sultans, one who is full of blessings, Master Nāsir al-Dīn al-Tūsī  — may the Almighty have mercy on him! — to compile a book on medicine that is small in size but has many benefits that will be useful to Muslims.

Intro., trans. Newman (2014) pp. 85-6.

The Sultan’s Potions may have been commercially commissioned. The attribution to a caliph (khan) plausibly could have been a marketing tactic. The oldest surviving manuscript of the work dates to 1793. Id. p. 68.

[2] Nāsir al-Dīn al-Tūsī, The Book of Choice Sexual Stimulants and the Sultan’s Potions, Intro., trans. Newman (2014) pp. 89-90. Subsequent quotes are from (cited by chapter and page number in id): Intro., p. 90 (When coitus takes place…); 13, p. 118 (Take house sparrows…); 13, pp. 118-9 (Another recipe…); 12, p. 117 (Take fresh thick sheep dung…); 4, p. 103 (strengthens coitus to the extent…); 4, p. 104 (It is effective…); 6, p. 108 (growing bored); 15, p. 120 (the position during coitus…).

[3] The Greek Magical Papyri include similar recipes for enhancing a man’s penis.

[4] The Sultan’s Potions draws upon the work of impressive authorities:

Allah the Almighty willing, in line with what was said about this by the ancient philosophers and physicians, who relied on their experiments and experience, in their books. They include Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Palladius, Aristo, and scholars like them.

Intro., trans. Newman (2014) p. 91. Underscoring the importance of men’s sexual obligations, the great physician and scholar ibn Sina explained, “If a man can’t make her orgasm, some {women} turn to lesbianism.” Quoted in id. p. 41.

[5] Tendentious scholarly work in support of the dominant ideology, e.g. Gadelrab (2011), doesn’t help. Moreover, truthful understanding cannot be established with wildly unrealistic theory:

From a constructionist point of view, we could make the objection that there was no sex prior to the actual invention of the term.

Franke (2012) p. 161. Only an academic, social-constructivist fundamentalist could take such an objection seriously.

[image] Potion bottles. Thanks to Petr Kratochvil for releasing the source image under CCO Public Domain license on


Franke, Patrick. 2012. “Before scientia sexualis in Islamic culture: ‘ilm al-bāh between erotology, medicine and pornography.” Social Identities. 18 (2): 161-173.

Gadelrab, Sherry Sayed. 2011. “Discourses on Sex Differences in Medieval Scholarly Islamic Thought.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 66: 40-81.

Newman, Daniel L., ed. and trans. 2014. Nāsir al-Dīn al-Tūsī. The Sultan’s sex potions: Arab aphrodisiacs in the Middle Ages. London: Saqi. (Emily Selove’s review)

the female gaze, gender oppression, and men putting meat on the table

man putting his meat on dinner table

Over recent decades, literary scholarship has extensively discussed the male gaze and its role in gender oppression. But the female gaze has been marginalized and largely ignored. That blindness has hindered seminal work to penetrate the gender divide. The female gaze must be included within a broad-based effort to thrust forward to a better future.

The problematics of the female gaze are clearly apparent in the mid-fifteenth-century case of an elite, young, newly married Italian couple. He was a young and handsome nobleman. She was a member of an eminent and distinguished Florentine family. A feast for the couple was arranged for a few days after their marriage. At that feast, rather than being full of happiness and smiles as most newly married women are, this woman appeared sad and downcast.

Her mother took her aside for a private talk about her distress. Her mother sympathetically inquired:

Surely the thing was healthy enough to satisfy?

{ Nunquid res sint satis salvae? }[1]

Weeping, the young women reluctantly explained:

You haven’t married me with a man, but with one lacking in virility: he has nothing or only a fraction of that necessary to make a marriage.

{ Non enim me viro desponsastis, sed ei cui virilia desunt: nihil enim aut parum habet ejus partis, propter quam fiunt matrimonia. }

The mother grieved at her daughter’s misfortune. She told her husband and others. Soon everyone at the feast knew of his shortcoming. All lamented understandingly:

the whole house was filled with sorrow and despair, with them saying that the beautiful young women had been, not married, but choked.

{ moestitia doloreque omnis impletur domus, cum non nuptam, sed suffocatam adolescentulam egregiam forma dicerent. }

They understood the wonderful goodness of men’s sexuality. They appreciated how much men’s sexuality benefits women. They sorrowed for the wife being deprived of what a husband most importantly provides for his wife.

The newly married young man didn’t understand the problem. When he arrived at the party, he saw all the disconsolate and pained faces. No one ventured to tell him the reason for the general sadness. At last, one was bold enough to tell him that “the young woman says that he is defective in sexual virility {dixisse puellam, mancum esse illum in virili sexu}.” The young husband wasn’t shaken. He remained confident and cheerful. He explained that he would soon dismiss that verdict.

After all had glumly finished their dinner, the young man rose to his feet and addressed the gathered friends and relatives. He appealed to them:

Fathers, in this matter in which I perceive I am being charged, I want you to offer your testimony as to the truth.

{ Patres, sentio me culpari in ea re, cujus vos testes esse an vera sit volo. }

Then the husband dramatically surmounted the classical heroine Phryne baring her breast to a Roman jury:

Then he pulls out a beautiful penis (from beneath a short tunic then in fashion), and places it on the dining table. Everyone is turned around by the rareness and magnitude of the thing, and he asks whether it deserves to be blamed or rejected.

{ Deinde educto formae egregiae Priapo (vestibus enim curtis tunc utebatur), ac supra mensam posito, omnes ad rei novitatem magnitudinemque convertit, et, an culpandus au rejiciendus esset, quaesivit. }

Their verdict was clear:

Most of the women wished that their husbands has been so greatly supplied. Many of the men felt that such great furnishing surpassed their own.

{ Major mulierum pars, ut viris suis talis copia inesset, optabant. Viri permulti se ad illo tali supellectili superari sentiebant }

Gynocentric society requires men to put meat on the table in order to prove that they are truly men. That’s oppressive. Men shouldn’t have to prove that they are men or work to be regarded as virtuous. A man can sufficiently provide for a woman with nothing more than his own natural self.

The unjust social construction of men’s obligation to provide for women arises in part from the female gaze. The female gaze of the wife forced the husband to put meat on the table. The wife herself explained:

Why do you blame or reproach me? Our little donkey, which I recently saw in the countryside, is merely a beast, and yet (stretching out her arm) it has a penis that long: this husband of mine, who is a man, doesn’t have one half as long.

{ Quid objurgatis? aut quid me reprehenditis? Asellus noster, quem ruri nuper conspexi, bestia est, et adeo (extenso brachio) oblongum membrum habet: his vir meus, qui homo est, non habet ejus medietatem. }

The female gaze upon male farm animals contributes to devaluing men’s sexuality. The female gaze forces men to put their meat on the table to establish publicly their sexual adequacy. That’s disgusting. To advance gender justice, women must stop gazing upon male farm animals.[2]

While pervasive and oppressive, the female gaze isn’t the greatest injustice that men face. Criminal justice systems operate with acute anti-men sex bias and thus produce a vastly gender-disproportionate population of men held behind bars. Men are deprived of reproductive rights and incarcerated for being unable to pay state-mandated sex payments (so-called “child support”). Men are deprived of custody of their children through grotesque anti-men bias in family courts. If those gender injustices could be even slightly mitigated, most men probably would be willing to tolerate the hardships arising from the female gaze.[3]

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[1] Poggio, Facetiae 42, “Of a young woman who accused her husband of having too small of a penis {De adolescentula quae virum de parvo Priapo accusavit}”, Latin text from Poggoi (1879) vol. 1, pp. 75- 8, with my English translation, drawing upon that of id., but tracking the Latin more closely. Id. left untranslated text referring explicitly to the man’s penis. All the subsequent quotes above are similarly from id.

The young woman’s father is explicitly named. He was the Florentine knight Nereo de Pazzi, “among those {knights of Florence} a distinguished and eminent man of his time {inter caeteros suae aetatis egregii ac praestantis viri}.” He probably was embarrassed by his daughter’s behavior. Not all women are like that.

Priapus was a Greco-Roman god that become a focal point for classical poetic protests against the brutalization of men’s sexuality.

Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini was a medieval church official and scholar. He lived from 1380 to 1459. His Facetiae became a highly popular work. It survives in manuscripts, such as MS Lat 188. Houghton Library, Harvard University (dated 1466). and in many printed versions (the earliest surviving printed version is dated 1470). The Facetiae was translated into many vernacular languages and influenced the French story collection the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles. Poggio was a manuscript collector who played an important role in preserving and transmitting classical texts.

[2] In affirming the strong, independent sexuality of his poetic persona, Ovid in Amores II.7 and II.8 subtly appropriated for a man the sexual characteristics of a donkey. Mills (1978).

[3] The meager work on the female gaze engages in remarkable contortions to validate dominant ideology and to cite cultic authorities:

the gaze must be literally female when women do the looking. In both stories women do effect the looking. But it is not the male-inscribed looking that Deveraux explains, as a female appraising herself as a man would appraise her, that is, “the eyes are female, but the gaze is male” (337). One could argue that the stories present a reader’s gaze gazing at a female gazing. But the female gaze is not a male-inscribed object of the gaze. Both females are viewing the phallus. Of course, the narratorial gaze is patriarchal because the women are viewed as lacking and wanting that guarantor of meaning elucidated by Burns who states that in fabliaux women protagonists can be “headless and unknowing in very specific, bodily ways” (196). This seems to be the case in which “loca,” or “empty upstairs,” is tantamount to being headless.

Cárdenas-Rotunno (2008) p. 87. Medieval scholars typically cited authorities for their truth value, rather than cultic status.

female gaze at man's penis

[images] (1) Man putting his meat (penis) on the dinner table. Illumination for story 80 in Les Cent nouvelles nouvelles, MS Hunter 252, f. 168v. This manuscript was created between 1461 and 1462. On depictions of men’s genitals in MS Hunter 252, Boneau (2006). On the illuminations in that manuscript more generally, Adams (1992). According to Wikimedia Common’s expert and influential interpretation of copyright law, an image of a illumination from a medieval manuscript is in the public domain under the jurisdiction of U.S. copyright law. (2) Man putting his meat (penis) on the dinner table. Illumination for story 80 in Les Cent nouvelles nouvelles in the edition of Douglas (1899). The difference between the two images indicates the increasing repression of men’s sexuality from the Middle Ages to the modern era.


Adams, Alison. 1992. “The Cent nouvelles nouvelles in MS Hunter 252: The Impact of the Miniatures.” French Studies. 46(4): 385-394.

Boneau, Elise. 2006. “Obscenity out of the Margins: Mysterious Imagery within the Cent nouvelles nouvelles, MS Hunter 252.” eSharp 6(2): 1-18.

Cárdenas-Rotunno, Anthony J. 2008. “Assessing Asses and Lasses in the 1488 Spanish Esopete ystoriado.” Romance Quarterly. 55(2): 82-95.

Douglas, Robert B., trans. 1899. Antoine de la Sale. One hundred merrie and delightsome stories: right pleasaunte to relate in all goodly companie by joyance and jollity : les cent nouvelles nouvelles. Paris: Charles Carrington.

Mills, Suzanne. 1978. “Ovid’s Donkey Act.” The Classical Journal. 73 (4): 303-306.

Poggio. 1879. Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini. The facetiae or jocose tales of Poggio, now first translated into English with the Latin text. Paris: Isidore Liseux (vol. 1, vol. 2).

husband’s sexual obligation to wife is matter of life & death

medieval husband and wife

A wife having sex with her husband when she doesn’t feel like doing it is now regarded as her husband raping her. In the more enlightened Middle Ages, the situation was much different. Christian spouses had an obligation to grant each other’s requests for sex, even if one didn’t feel like doing it.[1] The Christian marital sexual obligation was know as the marital debt. But this marital sexual obligation wasn’t merely understand in contractual-commercial terms. A medieval husband’s sexual obligation to his wife included action saving her life and preserving her mental health.

In medieval Italy, a young, newly married woman was gravely ill. She lay on her back, her eyes closed, scarcely breathing, and looking like a corpse. Everyone thought that she would soon die. The young, newly married husband despaired greatly of her mortal illness. Showing manly initiative, he rose into action:

The husband was lamenting that his wife, with whom he had been sexually intimate so few times and whom he loved greatly, was being so soon snatched away from him. He therefore decided to have sex with her before she expired. After having sent away all bystanders by mentioning vaguely the performance of some secret act, he engaged in sexual intimacy with his wife.

{ Dolebat vir tam cito eripi uxorem sibi, quam raro cognoverat, et eam, ut aequum erat, summe amabat. Decrevit ergo cum uxore, antequam ea expiraret, coire. Semotis omnibus (cum nescio quid se acturum secreto dixisset), uxorem cognovit. } [2]

The effects of marital sex were miraculous:

Immediately, as if her husband had injected new life into her body, she began to draw in breath, she opened her eyes, and after a little while she began to speak. With a gentle voice, she called for her husband.

{ Illa e vestigio, tanquam vir novam vitam in corpus ejus indidisset, coepit spiritum ducere, atque oculis subapertis, post paululum loqui, et submissa voce virum appellare. }

As most husbands do, he responded promptly and obediently to his wife’s call. She asked for some food and drink. He got them for her. She was thus fully restored to good health. The course of the wife’s illness leaves no room for doubt: without the husband’s sexual service, the wife would have died. That’s a stressful burden for husbands to hold in the marital bed.

A husband’s obligation to have sex with his wife was also regarded as vitally important to his wife’s mental health. In medieval Tuscany, a wife was suffering from frenzy and delirium. To get her to a folk-healer for a prognosis and treatment, the husband and his helpers had to transport her across the Arno River:

In order to cross the Arno River, they put the woman on the back of the strongest man. Immediately she began wriggling her buttocks, simulating sexual intercourse, and crying out in a loud voice, “I,” she said, frequently repeating her words, “want to be fucked!” Thus she voiced the cause of her illness.

{ Cum per Arnum fluvium transituri mulierem supra dorsum hominis validioris imposuissent, coepit illa vestigio nates movere, similis coeunti, ac magna vocce clamitans: “Ego,” inquit, saepius verba iterans, “vellem futui!” quibus vocibus causam expressit morbi. } [3]

Everyone laughed at the husband and attributed his wife’s illness to him:

The one who was carrying the woman poured out such a fit of laughter that he fell into the water with her. All the rest burst out laughing with knowing the cure for this insanity. They asserted that, not the work of a folk-healer, but sexual intercourse would restore her to sanity. And they turned to her husband, “You,” they said, “will be the best doctor for your wife.”

{ Qui ferebat foeminam, adeo est in resum effusus, ut una cum ea in aquam caderet. Tum ridentes omnes, cum insaniae medelam cognovissent, non esse opus incantationibus asserunt, sed coitu, ad sanitatem restituendam. Et in virium versi: “Tu,” inquiunt, “optimus uxoris curator eris.” }

All then returned home. As soon as the husband had been sexually intimate with his wife, she perfectly recovered her mind.[4] Husbands were thus held responsible for wives’ mental health. That’s a heavy burden of sexual responsibility for husbands.

Medieval wives never forgave husbands who failed to fulfill their marital sexual responsibilities. Consider a medieval husband asking his dying wife for forgiveness for any injury he might have done her. He reminded her that he had been a good husband. He explained that he had never failed to pay his marital sexual debt to her, with one exception:

excepting that time when she was not in good health, because he didn’t want to fatigue her with sexual intercourse.

{ eo excepto tempore, quo illa non recte valeret, ne coitu fatigaretur.} [5]

His wife, lying gravely ill in bed, responded:

“This,” she said, “by my faith, I can never forgive you. I was never so sick or infirm that I wasn’t able to be flat on my back.”

{ “Hoc,” inquit, “per fidem nunquam parcam neque remittam tibi: nullo enim tempore adeo invalida atque infirma extiti, quin commode possem resupina jacere.” }

Husbands must learn to infer what their wives are actually saying. To any but the dullest husband, this wife’s message to her husband is clear: get to your marital sexual work, now!

Throughout history, young, beautiful women have sexually harassed men. But within medieval marriage, sexual harassment wasn’t a concern. Spouses were expected to have sex whenever one of them desired. Husbands had the longest and hardest part of this marital responsibility. For those drooping in their duty, beatings and other forms of punishment stimulated only a small share of men with peculiar predilections. A medieval proverb offered women more generally useful wisdom:

She who wants her tail soothed must stroke her husband’s head.

{ Pités de cul trait lent de cief. }[6]

Today, men are incarcerated for not being able to make monthly payments to woman with whom they had sex. Being incarcerated greatly harms a father’s ability to provide emotional and material support to his children. Loving men, or least treating them humanely, is a much better way.

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[1] If both spouses never requested sex, Christians could live in a sexless marriage.

[2] Poggio, Facetiae 112, “Of a husband who was sexually intimate with his sick wife, and thus restored her to health {De viro qui uxorem aegrotam cognovit, et postea convaluit},” Latin text from Poggoi (1879) vol. 1, p. 180. Here and subsequent quotes include my English translation, drawing upon that of id., but tracking the Latin more closely. The subsequent quote is from id.

[3] Poggio, Facetiae 24, “A frenetic wife {De muliere phrenetica},” Poggoi (1879) vol. 1, pp. 50-2. The subsequent quote is from id. Cf. John the Baptist, e.g. John 1:23, “I am the voice of one crying out {ego vox clamantis}.

[4] Classical Arabic literature preserves a similar understanding of the importance of men sexually serving women:

It is said that the virgin, if she be kept too long from copulation, will suffer from a condition that the physicians call “constriction of the womb,” which leads to delirium and melancholia in the brain, to the extent that she may be thought mad, though she is not; suffice that she be fucked for the ill to vanish immediately.

Nu’aymī (2009) p. 128.

[5] Poggio, Facetiae 42, “A husband who asked his wife for forgiveness while she was sick {Vir qui mulieri dum aegrota esset veniam postulavit},” Poggoi (1879) vol. 1, pp. 74-5. The subsequent quote is from id.

[6] Gautier le Leu, “The Widow {La Veuve},” v. 562, Old French text from Livingston (1951), my English translation benefiting from that of Hellman & O’Gorman (1965) p. 155. On this medieval proverb, Livingston (1939).

[image] A holy family in medieval Spain. Illumination from a Book of Hours. Made in Spain in the 1460s. On folio 48v in Ms. Add. 18193, British Library, London. Thanks to the Web Gallery of Art.


Hellman, Robert, and Richard O’Gorman. 1965. Fabliaux; ribald tales from the old French. New York: Crowell.

Livingston, Charles H. 1939. “Tobler-Lommatzsch Chief (Chaver).” Modern Language Notes. 54 (4): 290-291.

Livingston, Charles H. 1951. Le Jongleur Gautier Le Leu: étude sur les fabliaux. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Nu’aymī, Salwá (Salwa al Neimi), from Arabic trans. Carol Perkins. 2009. The proof of the honey. New York: Europa Editions.

Poggio. 1879. Gian Francesco Poggio Bracciolini. The facetiae or jocose tales of Poggio, now first translated into English with the Latin text. Paris: Isidore Liseux (vol. 1, vol. 2).