The Tale of Two Lovers —- An Erotic Novel of the Middle Ages
Aenus Slyvius Piccolimini was a popular Italian poet and novelist in the 15th century, around the the late Middle Ages and early Italian Renaissance. In 1444 he wrote The Tale of Two Lovers, which became one of the most popular books in the 15th century. However, The Tale of Two Lovers was not an ordinary novel, but an erotic novel that used vivid imagery combined with graphic sexual innuendo. The Tale of Two Lovers was the story of a married woman and a servant, who after a while fall in love, write dirty letters to each other, and eventually shag up a number of times. While today the writing of The Tale of Two Lovers is pretty mild compared to modern day pop culture, in the Middle Ages it was some raunchy stuff. For example,
" When she saw her lover, she clasped him in her arms. There was embracing and kissing, and with full sail they followed their lusts andwearied Venus, now with Ceres, and now with Bacchus was refreshed.”
WOW! That’s some really hot stuff right there! Mothers covered their children’s ears, wives scolded their husband’s jealously, and almost every literate person in Medieval Europe had the book carefully stashed away. Following the success of A Tale of Two Lovers, Piccolomini wrote other similar novels, becoming a household name among Late Medieval people’s comparable in fame to Ron Jeremy today.
While the notion of an erotic novel being written at a time when heretics were burned at the stake, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book was its author, Piccolimini. As he grew older, Piccolimini became a more serious figure in Medieval Europe, serving in the courts of various kings and emperors, becoming an ambassador of the Pope, and becoming a key figure in Medieval European politics. Then he was ordained a priest, and rose in ranks to become Bishop of Trieste and Sienna. In 1458 he was elected Pope, and took the regnal name Pius II. Yes, that’s right, there was once a Pope who was a pornographer. Although Pius II’s smut days were long over, it was something that held over his head by his critics and enemies until his death in 1464. Editions of The Tale of Two Lovers continued to be printed during his reign and even after his death. Today, modern translated versions had once again been introduced to the public.
Modern editions can be found at most online book vendors such as Amazon and Google. A free version can be found on the website provided as a source.