I have two modest items to report in what may well end up being a running series here at explananda on the mysterious connection between sex and lettuce.
The first is from p. 185 of the April 19th & 26th New Yorker. The article is on joke collections, ancient and modern. Discussing one of the former kind, the author writes:
A couple of jokes about lettuce, for example, might have struck a Roman audience as hilarious, given their belief that lettuce leaves, variously, promoted or impeded sexual function.
Second, there is the old Egyptian myth:
After Osiris’ eventual death, while Horus was growing up and planning his own revenge, Set and Horus engaged in a homosexual relationship. In one part of the myth, Set proclaimed to Horus, “How lovely your backside is.” Informing his mother Isis about his uncle’s ardour, Horus is told to catch Set’s semen rather than becoming impregnated by the murderer of his father. Set, in doing so, was planning on humiliating Horus by showing the gods that Horus would be filled with someone else’s semen.
Horus and Isis’s next plan was to ‘impregnate’ Set with Horus’ semen. His mother spreads powerful unguents on Horus’ penis, after which he ejaculated into a jar, and they spread it on some lettuce, a favourite aphrodisiac to the ancient Egyptians. Set then ate the semen-covered lettuce, and so Horus (rather than Set with his first ‘attack’) bacame sexually dominant over his uncle. Set then asked the gods to bring the semen forth from the ‘impregnated’ one, to humiliate Osiris’ son. The semen comes out of Set himself, and he becomes the laughing stock of the gods!
Oh, that old trick!
A single voice crying in the wilderness (1)