The Sultan’s Sex Potions: Arab Aphrodisiacs in the Middle Ages

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.

The book provides 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.


(first page of the Berlin manuscript)

Some reviews:

“… a much-needed, compact guide to the genre (…) accessible and inviting…” (Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies)

“… provides a lengthy and interesting introduction to Islamic erotology.” (Robert Irwin, The Times Literary Supplement, 23 May 2014, p. 26)

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