It can hardly be supposed that a people, to whom spectacles like the above were an every-day occurrence, would view such a common vice as masturbation with any great manifestation of opprobrium. I have before pointed out the complacency with which Chrysippus praised Diogenes for his manliness, in publicly masturbating in the market-place; and that attitude toward the practice was the same both in Greece and Rome. Men viewed it with absolute indifference, as a mere matter of individual concern; and while Aretams, without alluding to it specifically, points out the tonic effect on the sexual system of retaining the semen, Galen, on the other hand, regarding the retention of the seminal fluid as injurious, inferentially, at least, advocates the practice of masturbation.
Only the vast scope allowed for homosexual and heterosexual relationships, indeed, prevented the universal adoption of a practice against which neither religion nor society opposed any penalty; the former, in fact, by its early inculcation of celibacy, as we have already seen, rather tending to foster and encourage it.
Cira_ under which it was Permitted by the Christian Church
Under certain circumstances, the early Catholic Church permitted a married woman to masturbate; i this qualified permission growing out of a false theory of procreation, as is clearly indicated by the word , seminatw, in the Jesuit (Gury's) Compend of Moral Theology, II, 417—quae se ipsam tactibus exeitat ad seminalionem siatim post copulam in qua vir solus seminavii.
The statement clearly proves that the author believed, as indeed contemporaneous medicine taught, that ejaculation by the woman was as necessary to fecundation as by the man; and when this did not take place naturally, it might be induced with the finger. This belief, that emission of vaginal mucus, during sexual excitation, corresponds to spermatic emission in the male, led, as Gamier very justly assumes, to the practice of masturbation on purely hygienic grounds; leading also to the use of special pessaries for the purpose, such as that which he describes as invented by Mesue\ in the early part of the eighteenth century, to take the place of the male organ in assisting to expel the feminine sperm.1