monstrous births


monstrous births
   Minor defects in a newborn baby were generally explained as due to some shock or unpleasant sight at the moment of *conception, or during the mother's *pregnancy, but major malformations were regarded as God's *judgement on serious sin, especially lack of charity, blasphemy, or breaching a sexual taboo. These ideas were especially prevalent in the 16th and 17th centuries, and continued to appear in popular reprints of old works. Thus, an 1890 reprint of the pseudo-medical Aristotle's Masterpiece (1684) explained that 'some monsters are begotten by a woman's unnatural lying with beasts', as happened in 1603 when a child was born that was half-human, half-dog (p. 35); others because the parents made love while the woman was *menstruating (pp. 40-1).

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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