Aphrodisiacs from Macer Floridus

This is not really food-related, but they are entertaining and I didn’t want to keep them hidden away. You can find all the recipes in the pdf file. I promise to continue with more culinary recipes after this. Content warning: sexual activity (obviously).

Nettle, 1804 illustration courtesy of wikimedia commons

142 Used as a pessary together with myrrh, it (nettle) provokes the menses. If the womb, heavy with humours, closes the vulva, it is recalled by rubbing it with nettle leaves. Drunk in wine, it provokes the seed of Venus, and more so if it is pounded with honey and pepper and taken thus.

548 If eaten raw, it (leek) relieves drunkenness, provokes lust, and softens a hardened womb and abdomen.

706 The seed (of fennel), drunk with wine, provokes the act of Venus.

860 (Savory) taken well pounded with wine or an egg, calms nausea. Similarly, it also provokes the act of Venus if taken fresh or dried with plenty of wine. If the wine is also mixed with honey and pepper, this herb is said to kindle the fire of love more ardently than normal.

1033 Many physicians and poets confirm that this herb (rocket) greatly strengthens Venus. It is most salubrious if taken together with lettuce because the heat is tempered by its coolness.

1974 It (the mallow root) is also said to stimulate Venus if it is tied on next to the thigh with linen.

2145 (Cloves) kindle the powers of Venus if it is drunk in the weight of a drachm dissolved in fresh cow milk.

2194 (Spikenard) They excite Venus if drunk in reduced grape must (sapae liquore)

It probably does not need saying I do not recommend experimenting with these. Especially the one on nettle has disturbing implications.

The Macer Floridus is a herbal that was extremely popular throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in all of Europe, and especially in Germany. It was most likely written in the mid-eleventh century by Odo of Meung, but this is somewhat uncertain and the early version could date from as early as the ninth century. Its final form of 77 chapters, drawing on material from Constantinus Africanus, certainly existed by 1100. We know with certainty that it was not authored by the classical Roman writer Aemilius Macer to whom early editors ascribed it.

The Macer is a relatively brief treatment of the pharmaceutical properties of various plants, drawing on various classical and medieval sources. It does not contain culinary recipes, but some remarks in it are nonetheless interesting from that perspective. I excerpted several paragraphs I found interesting with a view to culinary preparation, feasting, and lifestyle medicine. It should not need saying that these are not medical recommendations. While some recipes in Macer may actually have an appreciable effect, others can be seriously dangerous, and none hold up to modern evidence-based practice.

I am relying on the scholarly edition of 1834 and a German translation by Johannes Gottfried Mayer and Konrad Goehl that is still in print.

This entry was posted in Uncategorised and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *