This section is from the book "Aphrodisiacs And Anti-Aphrodisiacs", by John Davenport. Also available from Amazon: Love Stimulants, Aphrodisiacs and Anti-aphrodisiacs.
* "Cujus rei istud est argumentum, quod ubi rem veneream exercemus, tantillo emisse, imbecilles evadimus. - De Genitura. † Tome 52, p. 286, et seq.
Food in which this principle exists appears to impress upon the membrane of the stomach an increase of activity; the digestion is easy, and from a small mass of alimentary substance an abundant chyle is obtained. The chyliferous vessels derive a very great proportion of reparative materials; there is found but little excrementitious residue, the blood is enriched and its course accelerated, while the impulsive force of the heart and arteries is strong and more lively. Under the influence of this regimen a greater quantity of heat is developed and, in a given time, there is a greater absorption of oxygen than during a vegetable one: the respiration is performed more freely, the organs increase in size, but it is then a genuine embonpoint; nutrition is, in reality, more active, it is not a deceptive turgidity; the energy of the secretions and exhalations is redoubled, cutaneous perspiration becomes more abundant, and the glandular apparatus fulfil their functions with greater facility. A man who adopts this food becomes consequently very well fitted to make the sacrifices exacted by the calls of love, to which he is then more frequently solicited.
The mollusca in general, and testaceous animals in particular, have been considered as endowed with aphrodisiac properties. Juvenal attributes this quality to oysters which, together with mussles, have in tills respect become vulgarly proverbial. "Quis enim Venus ebria curat? Inguinis et capitis quae sint discrimina nescit Grandia quae mediis jam noctibus ostrea mordet."*
"For what cares the drunken dame (Take head or tail), to her 'tis much the same Who at deep midnight on fat oysters sups".
* Juvenal. Sat. 6, v. 302."Ad venerem," says Lubinus in a note on this passage, "miris modis insligant (i.e., ostreae), inde turpissimae ilae bestiae (feminae) ostrea comedebant, ut ad Venerem promptiores essent,"
Wallich informs us that the ladies of his time had recourse, on such occasions, to the brains of the mustela piscis. The Sepia octopus was also in great repute, and Plautus, in his play of Cisina, introduces an old man who has just been purchasing come at the market.
Appuleius, the celebrated author of the Metamorphoseon de Asino aureo (Metamorphoses of the Golden Ass), and who lived in the 2nd century, under the Antonines, having married a rich widow, was accused by her father Ĉmilian, before Claudius Maximus, pro-Consul of Asia, of having employed sorcery and charms in order to gain her affections (a parallel case with that of Shakspear's Othello). The love-potions alleged to have been administered were asserted to be chiefly composed of shell-fish, lobsters, sea hedge-hogs, spiced oysters, and cuttle-fish, the last of which was particularly famed for its stimulating qualities. Appuleius fulley exonerated himself in his admirable Apologia ceu oratio de Magica, so esteemed for the purity of its style as to have been pronounced by Saint Augustine (De Civitate Dei, lib. xviii. c. 20) as copiosissima et disertissima oratio. The reason adduced by Ĉmilian for believing that Appuleius had chiefly used fish for the purpose was, that they must necessarily have great efficacy in exciting women to venery, inasmuch as Venus herself was born of the sea.
Venette* supports this view when he says:
"Nous avons l'experience en France que ceux qui ne vivent presque que de coquillages et de poissons qui ne sont que de 1'eau rassemblee, sont plus ardents a l'amour que les autres, en effet, nous nous y sentons bien plus y portes en Caresme qu'en toute autre saison parce-qu' en ce temps la nous ne nous nourrissons que de poissons et d'herbes qui sont des aliments composes de becaucoup d' eau.
* De la generation de l'homme, p. 272.
Should this be true, the Infallible(?) Church must have committed an astounding blunder in thinking to mortify, for six weeks, the sinful lusts and affections of its dupes, by confining them, for the above period, to the exclusive use of such articles of food.
There are also some aliments which, although not included in the class of analeptics, are, nevertheless, reported to possess specific aphrodisiacal qualities; such are fish, truffles, and chocolate.
The following anecdote relative to this property in fish is related by Hecquet: *
"Sultan Saladin, wishing to ascertain the extent of the continence of the dervishes, took two of them into his palace, and, during a certain space of time, had them fed upon the most succulent food. In a short time all traces of their self-inflicted severities were effaced, and their embonpoint began to re-appear. In this state he gave them two Odalisques † of surpassing beauty, but all whose blandishments and allurements proved ineffectual, for the two holy men came forth from the ordeal as pure as the diamond of Bejapore. ‡
The Sultan still kept them in his palace, and, to celebrate their triumph, caused them to live upon a diet equally recherche", but consisting entirely of fish. A few days afterwards they were again subjected to the united powers of youth and beauty, but this time nature was too strong, and the too happy ceno-bites forgot, in the arms of voluptuousness, their vows of continence and chastity.
* Traite des dispenses et de Careme, Paris, 1709, en 12mo, reimprime trois fois.
† Names given to the female slaves or concubines in the harem of the Sultan.
‡ A large province of the Deccan, said to have been famous, in ancient times, for its diamond mines.
This peculiar property in fish has been attributed to the presence of phosphorus, which is known to exist somewhat plentifully in their substance, and has also been discovered in their roes in a simple state of combination. Now, phosphorus is one of the most powerful stimulants: it acts upon the generative organism in a manner to cause the most violent priapisms; but this principle does not act alone, and there must also be taken into account the different seasonings and condiments which form the basis of most culinary preparations to which fish are subjected, and which are all taken from the class of irritants.