"the beast with two backs"
Title page from the 1630 edition
Public DomainTitle page from the 1630 edition - Credit: William Shakespeare

This monstrous description of sexual coupling comes from the opening scene of Shakespeare’s Othello (c.1603), a play dominated by themes of jealousy and women’s sexual behaviour. Intent upon destruction, the duplicitous Iago announces Desdemona and Othello’s love affair to the girl’s father in terms calculated to engender his wrath.


Brabantio: What profane wretch art thou?  

Iago: I am one, sir, that comes to tell you, your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs. (Act 1, Scene 1)