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ANAHITA  March 2000

ANAHITA March 2000

Subject:

Re: Spreading seeds

From:

"Cooper, Marc" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 6 Mar 2000 11:38:51 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

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Parts/Attachments

text/plain (85 lines)

Interesting issue. Where do you find the semen as seed metaphor? I have
heard it before too, but we need to talk about particular instances. As you
say, no one knew that semen consists of particles until Leeuwenhoek reported
his microscopic observations to the Royal Society in the 17th century. I
haven't read Aristotle on reproduction in a long time, but I do recall that
the presocratics believed that plants reproduce asexually (Empedocles fr.
79)as you say, and that one of the issues regarding reproduction was how it
could be that homogeneous semen could produce animals made of distinct
parts. That is, how could a substance without differentiation become a
substance composed of parts.

In Sumerian the word for semen is a.ri.a. a is a generic word for water and
similar substances. Hence in a Sumerian erotic poem Dumuzi waters lettuce as
a metaphor for sex and a few lines later he waters Inanna's "barley stalk
full of allure in its furrow, water it, it being lettuce." By the way,
compare that fragment with Song of Songs 4:12-13. In Gilgamesh VI 8, "Come
along Gilgamesh, be my lover and grant me your fruit." Some of the best
known Near Eastern metaphors for semen and sex seem to concern watering or
eating fruit.

-----------------------
Marc Cooper - History
Southwest Missouri State University
[log in to unmask]
http://courses.smsu.edu/mac566f/index.htm



> -----Original Message-----
> From: Katzeff [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Subject: Spreading seeds
>
>
> Since ancient times, the male seminal fluid has been referred to as
> "seed," and the male sex drive has been metaphorically
> described as the
> urge for a man to "spread his seed."   How did the ancients
> come up with
> this metaphor when they were presumably unable to know, without
> microscopes, that a man's seminal fluid contained tiny
> particles--sperm?
>
> Furthermore, since seeds come from female plants or from plants that
> have both male and female parts, how did the seed become the
> product of
> a man?
> Virginia Katzeff
>
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