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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Staff and Governance

Core Staff

The day-to-day running of IMEMS is the responsibility of the Core Executive Committee, comprising the Director and Associate Directors and the Administrator. 

Publication details for Professor Daniel Newman

Newman, Daniel. (2014). The Sultan's Sex Potions: Arab Aphrodisiacs in the Middle Ages. London: Saqi Books.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

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.

The Sultan’s Sex Potions was written by Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī (1201–1274), one of the leading scientists of the age, and is part of a group of works devoted to aphrodisiacs as well as sexual practices and positions. Sober and measured in tone, the treatise was intended as a manual and guide, to be used by those afflicted with various sexual ailments, especially impotence, for self-healing, without resorting to a physician. It was composed at the request of the ruler and so 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 Arabic manuscripts (Berlin, Cairo and Glasgow), accompanied by an English translation as well as an introduction to Arabic erotic literature, a biography of the author, a bibliography of erotological works and extensive indexes.


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