Medieval Prudery

"Duke: I do not venture to inquire any further about sexual intercourse because the subject is not quite decent, but ask instead that you proceed to the other topics.

"Philosopher: Nothing that is natural is indecent: for it is a gift of the Creator.  However, because our hypocrites, more in abhorrence of the name than of the thing itself, avoid talking of such things, we should leave the subject for the time being and discuss conception."

--William of Conches (d. after 1154), A Dialogue on Natural Philosophy (Dragmaticon Philosophiae), trans. by Italo Ronca and Matthew Curr (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1997), book VI, part two, chap. 8, p. 138.*

*More notes from my reading, here something I learned this morning while trying to make sense of John of Garland's description of the generation of Mary's body in her mother's womb.


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