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Garden_ describes forty forms, as well as six different kinds of
movement during coitus. The Eastern books of this kind are, on
the whole, superior to those that have been produced by the
Western world, not only by their greater thoroughness, but by the
higher spirit by which they have often been inspired.
The ancient Greek erotic writings, now all lost, in which the
modes of coitus were described, were nearly all attributed to
women. According to a legend recorded by Suidas, the earliest
writer of this kind was Astyanassa, the maid of Helen of Troy.
Elephantis, the poetess, is supposed to have enumerated nine
different postures. Numerous women of later date wrote on these
subjects, and one book is attributed to Polycrates, the sophist.
Aretino--who wrote after the influence of Christianity had
degraded erotic matters perilously near to that region of
pornography from which they are only to-day beginning to be
rescued--in his _Sonnetti Lussuriosi_ described twenty-six
different methods of coitus, each one accompanied by an
illustrative design by Giulio Romano, the chief among Raphael's
pupils. Veniero, in his _Puttana Errante_, described thirty-two
positions. More recently Forberg, the chief modern authority, has
enumerated ninety positions, but, it is said, only forty-eight
can, even on the most liberal estimate, be regarded as coming
within the range of normal variation.
The disgrace which has overtaken the sexual act, and rendered it
a deed of darkness, is doubtless largely responsible for the fact
that the chief time for its consummation among modern civilized
peoples is the darkness of the early night in stuffy bedrooms
when the fatigue of the day's labors is struggling with the
artificial stimulation produced by heavy meals and alcoholic
drinks. This habit is partly responsible for the indifference or
even disgust with which women sometimes view coitus.
Many more primitive peoples are wiser. The New Guinea Papuans of
Astrolabe Bay, according to Vahness (_Zeitschrift fuer
Ethnologie_, 1900, Heft 5, p. 414), though it must be remembered
that the association of the sexual act with darkness is much
older than Christianity, and connected with early religious
notions (cf. Hesiod, _Works and Days_, Bk. II), always have
sexual intercourse in the open air. The hard-working women of the
Gebvuka and Buru Islands, again, are too tired for coitus at
night; it is carried out in the day time under the trees, and the
Serang Islanders also have coitus in the woods (Ploss and
Bartels, Das _Weib_, Bk. i, Ch. XVII).
It is obviously impracticable to follow these examples in modern
cities, even if avocation and climate permitted. It is also
agreed that sexual intercourse should be followed by repose.
There seems to be little doubt, however, that the early morning
and the daylight are a more favorable time than the early night.
Conception should take place in the light, said Michelet
(_L'Amour_, p. 153); sexual intercourse in the darkness of night
is an act committed with a mere female animal; in the day-time it
is union with a loving and beloved individual person.
This has been widely recognized. The Greeks, as we gather from
Aristophanes in the _Archarnians_, regarded sunrise as the
appropriate time for coitus. The South Slavs also say that dawn
is the time for coitus. Many modern authorities have urged the
advantages of early morning coitus. Morning, said Roubaud
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