Banned Georgian sex manual reveals strange beliefs
A 300-year-old "secrets of sex" manual banned for its shocking content is due to be sold at auction next month. Dating back to 1720, Aristotle's Masterpiece Completed In Two Parts, The First Containing the Secrets of Generation, offers a range of advice.
Here are a few tips from which the Georgians were lucky enough to benefit.
Don't lie with beasts
The manual - with the added power of illustrative woodcuts - warns women that if they "generate with animals" they run the risk of giving birth to monsters.
One picture shows a man sporting an impressive tail; another shows a child being born with feathers and a single, clawed leg.
The bird-child was apparently born in Italy in 1512 and it was all the fault of the mother, who was "filthy and corrupt".
Stare at your husband
It is a little-known fact that the way a child looks depends entirely on its mother's imagination.
The book claims "if women cast their eyes on ill-shaped bodies, the force of imagination could produce a child with a hairy lip, wry mouth or great blubber-lips".
How to avoid this?
During sex women should "earnestly look upon the man and fix her mind upon him". Then the child will resemble its father - who hopefully does not have blubbery, hairy or "wry" lips.
Eat the right things
Men wanting to "make their seed abound" should focus their diet on a combination of root vegetables and songbirds.
A long list of recommended foods to aid men's sexual function includes eggs, sparrows, blackbirds, gnat snappers, thrushes, partridges, parsnips, young pigeons, ginger and turnips.
Women, who as a gender are at risk of sexual indulgence - or "venery" - should avoid eating "hard, fat things and spices" because such comestibles cause the body to become more heated.
Another solution is for a maiden to simply get married - and when their venery is met by "the enjoyment of their husbands, they become more gay and lively".
Don't rush off
Here's a word of advice for Mr Right.
"When they have done what nature can require, a man must have a care he does not part too soon from the embraces of his wife".
After all, it's only polite.
Employ gender selection
Want a girl? After sex, a prospective mother should lie on her left. For a boy, she should lie on her right.
Meanwhile, "the fittest time for the procreation of male children is when the sun is in Leo and moon in Virgo, Scorpio or Sagittarius".
To beget a female however, the book says "the best time is when the Moon is in the wane, in Libra or Aquarius".
Remember men come first
The book talks of men being "the wonder of the world, to whom all things are subordinate" and "his seed should be seen as a divine gift abundantly endued with vital spirit".
It romantically states: "Without doubt, the uniting of hearts in holy wedlock is of all conditions the happiest, for then a man has a second self to whom he can unravel his thoughts as well as a sweet companion in his labour".
And what right-minded woman wouldn't want to be considered her man's "second self"?
The book will be sold on 27 March at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire. It has an estimated value of about £120.