This section is from the book "Aphrodisiacs And Anti-Aphrodisiacs", by John Davenport. Also available from Amazon: Love Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs.
Many formula for love-potions may be found in the work of Albertus Magnus, who, among other things, particularly recommends"the brains of a partridge calcined into powder and swallowed in red wine," a remedy which is also much insisted upon by Platina, who, in praising the flesh of the partridge, says, "Perdicis caro bene ac facile concoquitur, multum in se nutri-menti habet, cerebri vim auget, genituram facilitat ac demortuam Venerem excitat." †
* Pausanias, Graeciae Descriptio, Lib V., c. 27. † In his work "De valetudine tuenda".
"The flesh of the partridge, which is of good and easy digestion, is highly nutritious; it strengthens the brain, facilitates conception, and arouses the half-extinct desire for venereal pleasures." Mery* confidently prescribes, for the same purpose, the partes genitales of a cock prepared and administered in like manner.
The following compositions enjoyed a vast reputation during the 17th century:
"Take of pismires or ants (the biggest, having a sourish smell, are the best) two handfuls, spirits of wine one gallon; digeste them in a glasse vessel, close shut, for the space of a month, in which time they will be dissolved into a liquor; then distil them in balneo till ail be dry. Then put the same quantity of ants as before; do this three times, then aromatize the spirit with cinnamon. Note, that upon the spirit will float an oil which must be separated. This spirit (continues the inventor) is of excellent use to stir up the animal spirits insomuch that John Casimire, Palsgrave of the Rhine, and Seyfrie of Collen, general against the Turks, did always drink thereof when they went to fight, to increase magnanimity and courage, which it did even to admiration".
"This spirit doth also wonderfully irritate them that are slothful to venery,"†
Take of ants or pismires a handful of their eggs two hundred, of millepedes (wood-lice) two hundred, of bees two hundred and fifty; digeste them together, the space of a month, then pour off the clear spirit, and keep it safe. This water or spirit is of the same value as the former.
* Traite universel des drogues simples.
† The Holy Guide by John Heyden, Gent.,φίλουομοs a servant of God and a Secretary of Nature, Lib, v. p. 61.
‡ Ibid., p. 62.
But, quitting these "fond conceits," as honest old Burton* calls them, and investigating the subject upon acknowledged and recognised principles, it will be found that, as the ancient philosophers and naturalists regarded the semen as the purest and most perfect part of our blood, the flower of our blood and a portion of the brain, so the sole object of all aphrodisiacal preparations should be to promote its copious secretion.
Before, however, proceeding to indicate the means most conducive thereto, it may prove interesting to the reader to be informed what were the opinions of some of the most celebrated philosophers of antiquity, upon the semen."Let us first," says Montaigne.† "know whether, at least, all they (physicians) agree about the matter whereof men produce one another. . . . Archesilaus, the physician, whose favourite and disciple Socrates was, said that men and beasts were formed of a lacteous slime, expressed by the heat of the earth. Pythagoras says that our seed is the foam or cream of our better blood. Plato, that it is the distillation of the marrow of the back-bones; and raises his argument from this: that that part is first sensible of being weary of the work. Alcmeon, that it is a part of the substance of the brain, and that it is so, says he, is proved by its causing weakness of the eyes in those who are over-immoderately addicted to that exercise. Democritus, that it is a substance extracted from soul and body.
Aristotle, an excrement drawn from the aliment of the last blood which is diffused over all our members; others, that it is a blood concocted and digested by the heat of the genitals".
But, to return from this digression. Under whatever point of view the semen voile be considered, whether as containing, according to some physicians, all the parts of the foetus, under the name of organic molecules, or as being, in the opinion of others, merely destined to fecundate the female egg, it will be equally true that the semen is a fluid impregnated with a vivifying principle regarded as the most important (validissimum) of our humours, by Hippocrates, who, in support of this his opinion, adduces the fact of our becoming debilitated, however small the quantity we may lose of it in the venereal act.*
* Anatomy of Melancholy.
† Essays, Vol. II., p. 262-3. Translated by Cotton. London, 1743.
Zeno, the father of the Stoic philosophy, called the loss of semen the loss of part of the animating principle; and that sage's practice was conformable with his principles, for he is recorded to have embraced his wife but once in his life, and that out of mere courtesy.
Epicuras and Democritus were nearly of the same opinion as Zeno; and the Athletae, that their strength might be unimpaired, never married. The Rabbis, in their anxiety to preserve their nation, are said to have ordered, with a view of preventing a loss of vigour, that a peasant should indulge but once a week, and a merchant but once a month, a sailor but twice a year, and a studious man but once in two years; and for the same reason, Moses forbade indulgence before battle.
"Les etres," says a writer in the Dictionnaire des Sciences Medicales,† "qui font le plus abus de leurs facultes intellectu-elles et sensitives exterieures, sont les moins capables d'un coit frequent, tandis que les idiots, les cre'tins, l'exercent bien davantage. Dememe, l'ane, le cochon se livrent plus stupide-ment a l'acte de propagation et repandent beaucoup plus de sperme que les especes intelligentes; enfin les animaux a petit cerveau, tels que les poissons, montrent une extreme fecondite." If now, it be asked what will best promote the secretion of the seminal fluid, or, in other words, which is the best aphrodisiac, it may be confidently answered, the use of a substantial nourishment, such as medical men designate as an analeptic diet. Food of this description, without fatiguing the gastric organs, furnishes an abundant chyle, from which is elaborated a rich blood, and in which the secretory organs find materials of an excellent quality, and in an almost constant proportion with the regular consumption of their products. All food of easy and quick digestion is an analeptic, whence it follows that the same substance which is an analeptic to one person, may prove indigestible and innutritious for another.
The numerous treatises upon digestion render it unnecessary to specify here the different aliments most proper for convalescents, suffice it to say, generally, that those meats in which azezome is found are the most nutritious. This animal principle is that extractive matter of animal fibre which produces the red appearance of uncooked meat; it is also that which forms what is called the brown of roasted meats, gives the flavour to broths and soups, the peculiar smell to boiled meat, and constitutes the much admired gout of game and venison. It is not found in the flesh of young animals, which is said, with reason, to be, on that very account, less nutritious. It is only when they have attained the adult age that is appears in them; it is abundant in beef, mutton, kid, hare, pigeon, partridge, pheasant, woodcock, quail, duck, goose, and generally, in all animals having dark coloured flesh. Mushrooms and oysters also contain some, but in a very small proportion.