c.400AD: Bottle your sperm with a lizard for marital fidelity

Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903) was an American journalist and folklorist who spent much of his life travelling and investigating different cultures, both ancient and modern. In the early 1890s Leland spent time in Italy, where he visited Roman and Etruscan ruins and researched remnant cultural practices. While in Tuscany Leland uncovered a spell for marital fidelity, apparently recorded by Marcellus Burdigalensis, a physician to the Emperor Honorius:

“When a man wishes his wife to be faithful, he should take his sperm, sprinkled, and put it in a bottle… then catch a lizard with the left hand and put it in the same bottle. Cork them up very tightly and say:

Qui racchiudo la fedelta di mia moglie che non possa mai sfugirmi!

(Here I put the fidelity of my wife, that she may be ever and ever true to me.)

Be careful not to lose the bottle; you should always keep it in the house.”

Source: Cited in Charles G. Leland, Etruscan Roman Remains, 1892. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

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