Aristotle Beyond the Academy

Aristotle on Cuckoldry

As anyone who has read the Metaphysics knows, Aristotle’s prime mover is an adulterer. Or so says the anonymously penned Cuckoldom Triumphant: or, a History of Matrimonial Incontinence, published in 1771 under the name ‘Cornuto’ and promising ‘intrigues public and private, ancient and modern’:

When the honourable order of cuckolds was first introduced into the world, the learned are not agreed. Aristotle seems to hint as if it sprung from the original of things. When form lay with matter, motion crept in between, and out started a cuckold.

This parody betrays a learned author willing to make fun of Aristotle’s decidedly less-than-sexy philosophising. Elsewhere in the volume, the author praises the attentiveness of students in providing their learned masters with heirs, while the masters themselves show ‘too great dissipation of spirits in poring over Galen, Aristotle and Descartes’ to attend to their young wives…!


Durham UniversityDurham University Centre for Classical ReceptionLeverhulme Trust