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Kai Ka'us ibn Iskandar

Qabus-Nama (A Mirror for Princes)

[A Mirror for Princes, The Qabus-Nama, translated from the Persian by Reuben Levy, New York: E.P. Dutton, 1951]

Chapter XV. On Taking One's Pleasure

Let it be clear to you, my son, that if you fall in love with a person, you should not indiscriminately and whether drunk or sober indulge in sexual congress. It is well-known that the seed which issues from you is the germ of a soul and a person, so that when you have congress it should not be while you are in a state of intoxication, for in that condition it has detrimental effects. More properly and preferably it should come in the condition after intoxication. Yet do not indulge each time the thought occurs to you; that is the behavior of beasts, which know not the season for any action but act as they find occasion. A man, for his part, should select the proper season and thus preserve the distinction between him and the beasts.

As between women and youths, do not confine your inclinations to either sex; thus you may find enjoyment from both kinds without either of the two becoming inimical to you. Furthermore, if, as I have said, excessive copulation is harmful, [complete] abstention also has its dangers. When you do it, let it be in accordance with appetite, and not as a matter of course, so that it may have as little ill effect as possible. But, whether indulged in with appetite or not, have a care during the height of the hot weather or the depth of the cold; at these two seasons sexual congress has the most malign effect, particularly upon elderly men. Of the seasons, the spring is most suitable, the air being then temperate, springs of water most abundant and the world imbued with a pleasing countenance. Then, when the greater world renews its youth, and the strength of our body, which is the world in little, similarly behaves and the humours which are in conflict with it become temperate, the blood in the veins increases together with the semen in the loins. Irrespective of his own volition the need for intercourse becomes urgent in every man and it is then, when the natural desires are genuine, that least harm is done.

In this respect also you should refuse as far as possible to have blood let from your veins either during the height of the warm season or in the depth of the cold. If you experience an excess of blood, still it by means of cold draughts.

During the summer let your desires incline towards youths and during the winter towards women. But on this topic it is requisite that one's discourse should be brief, lest it engender appetite.