[ANCILLON, Charles]. ~ Traité des Eunuques, dans lequel on explique toutes les différentes sortes d’eunuques … On éxamine principalement s’ils sont propres au mariage, & s’il leur doit être permis de se marier … ?Berlin, [ 1707].
12mo (160 × 88 mm), pp. , 187, , title with woodcut device (an armillary sphere). Quite spotted, title browned. Contemporary mottled sheep, gilt panelled spine, red morocco label. Rubbed, joints cracked but sound. Nineteenth-century bookplate (Docteur Ant[oine Constant] Danyau).
First edition of this extraordinary treatise on the status of eunuchs in society, according to civil and canon law. Largely based on classical sources, history and (most interestingly) anecdotal evidence from the Orient, Ancillon considers the reasons for the phenomenon (including slavery, household, employment or punishment for sexual misdemeanour). The major contention is that while civil law permits a eunuch to marry, canon law should forbid it (as it did) on the grounds that a marriage could not be consummated. Along the way Ancillon recounts numerous anecdotes of famous eunuchs, notably Abelard, castrated at the instigation of Heloise’s family.
The book was later translated into English by Robert Samber as part of Edmund Curll’s Eunuchism display’d (1718).
This copy of Traité des Eunuques is one of at least two issues of the same year with slightly different paginations and title ornaments. The ‘Epitre dedicatoire’ is signed: ‘C. d’Ollincan’ an anagram of the author’s real name.
Gay III, 1239.