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The Supine Posture in Coition

In Epigram 18 on page 48, reference is made to that posture 'in congress in which the man lies supine, whilst the woman mounts on him, and procures the orgasm by her movements; vulgarly called 'St George' and 'le postillon', this appears to have been a favourite position amongst the Romans, Judging from the frequent references to it in their writings. Juvenal, in speaking of the debauchery of women, says of Saufeia:

Provocat, et tollit pendentis praemia coxae.
Ipsa Medullinae fluctum crissantis adorat.

She challenges them, and bears off the prize of her hanging thigh; but she herself adores the undulating wriggling of Medullina's haunches.

The 'hanging thigh' means Saufeia's thigh, which hung over the girl who lay underneath her, the reference being to tribadism. In the same Satire, 'Inque vices equitant, ac luna teste moventur'--They [the women] ride each other in turns, with the moon witnessing their movements.

In Lucilius: 'The one grinds, the other winnows corn as it were . . and: 'Crissatura, ut si frumentum vannat clunibus'--Her motion was as though she were winnowing corn with her buttocks. Martial, speaking of a Gaditanian dancing girl, says:

Tam tremulum crissat, tam blandum prurit, ut ipsum,
Masturbatorem fecent Hippolytum.

She wriggles herself so tremulously, and excites such lubricious passions, that she would have made Hippolytus himself a masturbator.

Arnobius calls this posture, inequitatio--a riding upon. Lucretius says, 'For the woman prevents and resists conception if wantonly she continues coition with a man with her buttocks heaving, and fluctuates her whole bosom as if it were boneless.' (That is, whilst the woman bends over the man and continually curves herself as if she had no spine or bone in her back.) 'For she thrusts out the ploughshare from the right direction and path of her furrow and turns aside the stroke of the semen from her parts. And the harlots think to move in this manner for their own sake, lest they should be in continual pregnancy and at the same time that the coition might be more pleasing for their men.' Apuleius has several passages bearing upon this posture. In his Metamorphoses we read, 'As she spoke thus, having leapt on my bed, she repeatedly sank down upon me and sprang upwards, bending inwards; and, wriggling her flexible spine with lubricious movements, glutted me with the enjoyment of a pendant coition, until fatigued, with our passions enervated and our limbs languid, together we sank panting in a mutual entwinement.'[1]

[1. I take the following quotation from The Earl of Hanington's Poems,

'Last night, when to your bed I came,
You were a novice at the game,
I've taught you now a little skill
But I have more to teach you still,
Lie thus, dear Sir, I'll get above,
And teach you a new seat of love;
When I have got you once below me,
Kick as you will, you shall not throw me;
For tho' I ne'er a hunting rid,
I'll sit as fast as if I did,
Nor do I any stirrup need
To help me up upon my steed.'
This said, her legs she open'd wide,
And on her lover got astride,
And being in her saddle plac'd
Most lovingly the squire embrac'd,
Who viewed the wanton fair with wonder,
And smil'd, to see her keep him under,
While she, to show she would not tire,
Spur'd like a fury on the squire,
And tho' she ne'er had rid in France,
She made him caper, curvet, dance,
Till both of them fell in a trance.
Twas long e'er either did recover
At last she kissed her panting lover,
And, sweetly smiling in his face,
Ask'd him, 'How he liked the chase?'
He scarce could speak, his breath was short,
But sobbing, answer'd, 'Noble sport;
I'd give the best horse in my stable,
That either I or you were able
To ride another, for I own
There never was such pastime known.'
This answer pleased the frolic maid,
She sucked his breast and, laughing, said,
'If you, good Sir, resolve to try
Another gallop here am I,
Ready to answer your desire,
Nor will you find me apt to tire
In such a chase; I'll lay a crown,
Start you the game, I'll run it down.'
Thee squire overjoyed at what she said,
Hugg'd to his breast the sprightly maid;
For he was young and full of vigour,
And Cherry was a lovely figure,
Was ever cheerful, brisk and gay,
And had a most enticing way.
She kiss'd his eyes, she bit his breast,
Nor did her nimble fingers rest,
Till he had all his toil forgot,
And found his blood was boiling hot,
While Cherry (who was in her prime,
Still knew and always nick'd her time)
Bestrid the amorous squire once more,
And gallop'd faster than before,
Fearing the knight might interrupt her,
She toss'd and twirl'd upon her crupper;
Nor did she let her tongue he idle,
But thrust it in by way of bridle,
And giving him a close embrace,
Did finish the delightful chase.]

In the Errones Venerii appears this fragment by the same author--

Gladsome now do I return to amorous sportings, and the furtive delights of love-liesse. My Muse delights to toy, so fare thee well, Melpomene. Now will I tell of the fullness of Arethusa's hair, one while restrained, anon loosely streaming. And but now at night time, with signal tap at my threshold, a fair one is skilled to tread with fearless step in the darkness. Now with her soft arms wound round my neck, and lying half-upturned, let her curve her snowy side. And, having imitated in their every mode the joyous tablets, let her change posture and herself hang o'er me on the couch. Let naught shame her, but e'en more abandoned than myself, let her, unsated, gambol o'er the whole couch. There will ne'er be wanting a poet to bewail Priam or to narrate the deeds of Hector. My Muse delights to toy, so fare thee well, Melpomene.

In the Satyricon of Petronius we read--

Eumolpus, who was so incontinent that even I was a boy in his eyes, lost no time in inviting the girl to the pygiacic mysteries.[1] But he had told everybody that he was gouty and crippled in the loins, and if he did not fully keep up the pretence, he ran great risk of ruining the whole drama. In order to preserve an appearance of truthfulness, he prayed the damsel to seat herself on the goodness which had been commended to her, and commanded Corax to get under the

[1. This passage refers to the posture practised by the man lying on his back, with the woman upon him, her back turned towards him; but from the words pygisaca sacra the meaning may be that Eumolpus did not swive, but sodomised the young girl.]

bed on which he was lying, and with his hands pressed on the floor, to assist his master by the movement of his loins. Ordered to move gently, he responds with slow undulations, equal in speed to those of the girl above. The orgasm approaching, Eumolpus with clear voice exhorted Corax to hasten his movements. And so, placed between the servant and the damsel, the old man enjoyed as if in a swing. In this manner amidst our great laughter, in which he joined, Eumolpus furnished more than one course.

Horace in the Satires says--

When keen nature inflames me, any lascivious slut who, naked under the light of the lanthorn, takes the strokes of my swollen tail, or wriggles with her buttocks on her supine horse ...

And in the same book he uses the phrase 'peccat superne' in speaking of a woman who will not gratify her lover with this posture. Martial says, 'The Phrygian slaves masturbated themselves behind the door when ever his wife seated herself on the Hectorean horse.' But Ovid recommends this posture to little women, and states that on account of her tall figure Andromache never assumed this attitude with Hector.[1] Arnobius writes coxendicibus sublevatis lumborum crispitudine fluctuare-- to move in swinging motion with upraised thighs and a curling, tremulous movement of the loins. And clunibus fluctuare crispatis--to fluctuate with wriggling buttocks. Afranius, Donatus and Plautus also mention the subject. Aristophanes, in the Wasps, describes the wrath of the woman who, when asked by Xanthias to mount him, demanded of

[1. In the 'Essai sur la Langue Erotique' which is prefixed to Liseux's edition of
Blondeau, the following passage from Ovid is cited as an example of the above

Tu quoque, cui rugis uterum Lucina notavit,
Ut celer aversis utere Partibus equis.

Thou also whose stomach Lucina has marked with wrinkles (i.e. by child bearing) should be used with back turned, as the swift Parthian with his horses.

I am, however, inclined to think that this passage has reference to the posture called by the Arabs el kebachi (after the fashion of the ram), and described as follows: 'The woman is on her knees, with her forearms on the ground; the man approaches her from behind, kneels down, and lets his member penetrate into her vagina, which she presses out as much as possible; he will do well in placing his hands on die woman's shoulders.'--The Perfumed Garden of the Sheikh Nefzaoui.]

him if he wished to re-establish the tyranny of Hippias (playing on the double sense of the word Hippias, which means also a horse). Similar references occur in another of the same author's plays, Lysistrata; and in the Analecta of Brunck are several epigrams of Asclepiades, in which the fair votaries boast of their prowess in the art of riding their gallants. Many of these courtesans dedicated as ex-votos to Venus a whip, a bridle or a spur, as tokens of their inclination for the attitude here noted. In the Decameron of Boccaccio we read--

The girl, who was neither iron nor adamant, readily enough lent herself to the pleasure of the abbot, who, after he had clipped and kissed her again and again, mounted upon the monies pallet, and having belike regard to the grave burden of his dignity and the girl's tender age and fearful of irking her for overmuch heaviness, bestrode not her breast, but set her upon his own and so a great while disported himself with her.

In The Kama Sutra (1883), The Ananga Ranga (1885) and The Perfumed Garden (1886)--three treaties on venery translated from the Sanscrit, Hindu and Arabic, and privately printed for the members of the Kama Shastra Society of London and Benares--many curious details on this subject, with subdivisions of the attitude which is called 'Purushayita', are given. The Koran says--'Your wives are your tillage: go in therefore unto your tillage in what manner so ever ye will.' Usually this is understood as meaning in any posture, standing or sitting, lying, backwards or forwards. Yet there is a popular saying, quoted in The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, about the man whom the woman rides: 'Cursed be he who maketh woman heaven and himself earth!' I conclude this note with a quotation from an unpublished manuscript translation into English of an Arabic amatory work entitled The Old Man Young Again, which details some seven or eight variations of the 'sitting posture', the woman being uppermost.

The man and the woman sit in a swinging hammock on New Year's Day, the woman placing herself on the man's lap, over his yard, which is standing. They then take hold of one another, she placing her two legs against his two sides, and set the swinging hammock in motion. And thus when the hammock goes on one side the yard comes out of her, and when it goes to the other side it goes into her, and so they go on swiving without inconvenience or tire, but with endearment and tender braying, till depletion comes to both of them. This is called 'Congress of the New Year's Hammock.

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