Arabic erotic literature has a long and rich history, which goes back as far as the ninth century. Far from being the pursuit of prurient pornographers, eroticism and sexuality received considerable attention from scholars. Written by Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (12011274), one of the leading scientists of the age, The Sultan's Sex Potions is part of a group of works devoted to aphrodisiacs as well as sexual stimulants, sexual practices, and positions.
Sober and measured in tone, the work was intended to be a manual that would allow the patient to dispense with the services of a physician. Written at the request of the ruler, its potions, electuaries, syrups, and enemas enjoyed a "royal warrant of appointment" to arouse the lust for coitus and enhance sexual potency.
This volume includes a critical edition of three manuscripts (Berlin, Cairo, and Glasgow) and is accompanied by a translation, as well as an introduction to Arabic erotic literature, a biography of the author, and extensive indexes.
A Persian polymath and prolific writer, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (12011274) built up a large body of work ranging across a number of disciplines including mathematics, geometry, mineralogy, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, and theology. The Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (13321406) considered al-Tusi to be the greatest of the later Persian scholars.
Daniel L. Newman is head of the Arabic Studies department, professor of Arabic, and course director of the MA in ArabicEnglish Translation and Interpreting at the University of Durham, England.
Note on Transcription
1. Arabic Erotic Literature 2. The Author 3. The Sultan's Compounds
Contents and Structure Language The Arabic Manuscripts Sources and Transmission Symbols and Abbreviations
Chapter One: explanation of the organization of human beings, their dispositions, etc.
Chapter Two: description of simple remedies, their benefit, properties, etc.
Chapter Three: description of simple drugs , which are the main medicines, especially for the strengthening of bodily functions, increase in sexual potency, lust, sperm, etc.
Chapter Four: description of compound drugs that ward off illnesses, strengthen performance during sexual intercourse, protect against obstructions, increase sperm and lust; description of compound remedies and sweets that are beneficial for human temperament and rectify it, that remove paralysis in the body and limpness of the limbs, and increase sexual potency.
Chapter Five: description of syrups that rectify spoiled temperaments, clean the blood and body, invigorate coitus and are of great benefit.
Chapter Six: description of stomachs that raise the spirits and ward off boredom, are highly beneficial for the stomach and strengthen it; remove jaundice and phlegm; cut short melancholy; are beneficial for the brain; open up obstruction in organs; reduce foul wind; strengthen the lungs; protect against headache and catarrh; and strengthen innate heat and all bodily actions.
Chapter Seven: description of the remedies that extract and expel the wind and coldness arising from the hip, back and organs; that remove moisture, yellow and black bile from the stomach, intestines and other parts of the body.
Chapter Eight: description of enemas which remove joint ache; protect against foul wind and expels them from the body, lungs, sciatica; removes back pain, colic; strengthen the back and hip, and all functions.
Chapter Nine: description of the bandages that are tied around the hip during the four seasons and of everything that is appropriate for each season in order not to offend human nature and cause illness.
Chapter Ten: description of the conditions and manner [of sexual intercourse] so as to avoid harm and weakness (sc. impotence).
Chapter Eleven: description of medicines with which to rub the penis so that it becomes strong, long, and erect.
Chapter Twelve: description of medicines to rub on the penis so that it becomes erect and long, as is desirable.
Chapter Thirteen: description of medicines that are rubbed in between the fingers and toes so that they are useful in sexual intercourse, strengthen it and prevent weakness from occurring as a result of frequent intercourse.
Chapter Fourteen: description of the pills which are placed in the mouth during sexual intercourse to increase the individual’s pleasure.
Chapter Fifteen: description of the positions during sexual intercourse that provide pleasure to both the man and the women, as reported by physicians.
Chapter Sixteen: description of medicines which, if used by women colours their faces and cheeks pink, with intercourse becoming highly pleasurable, to the extent that no-one can have sex with them anymore due to their hotness and narrowness.
Chapter Seventeen: description of the medicines that prevent pregnancy in a woman so that she remains like a virgin girl for ever.
Chapter Eighteen: description of the medicines that result in a woman becoming pregnant, if Allah the Almighty wills it.
Appendix: List of Erotic Works
Index of Proper Names
Index of Arabic Terms
Index of English Terms
Nasir al-Din al-Tusi : A Persian polymath and prolific writer, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (12011274) built up a large body of work, ranging across a number of disciplines including mathematics, geometry, mineralogy, astronomy, medicine, philosophy and theology. The Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (13321406) considered Tusi to be the greatest of the later Persian scholars.
Daniel L. Newman: Daniel L. Newman is Head of the Arabic Studies Department, Professor of Arabic and Course Director of the MA in ArabicEnglish Translation and Interpreting at the University of Durham, UK.