Beast with two backs  

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This page Beast with two backs is part of the human sexuality seriesIllustration: Fashionable Contrasts (1792) by James Gillray.
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This page Beast with two backs is part of the human sexuality series
Illustration: Fashionable Contrasts (1792) by James Gillray.

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Making the beast with two backs is a euphemistic metaphor for a man and a woman engaged in sexual intercourse. It refers to the situation in which a couple – in the missionary position or standing – cling to each other as if a single creature, with their backs to the outside.

In English, the expression dates back to at least William Shakespeare's Othello (Act 1, Scene 1, ll. 126-127):

I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.

The equivalent phrase in "la bete à deux dos"", appears in Rabelais' Gargantua and Pantagruel, circa 1532.

The full passage reads:

"En son eage virile, espousa Gargamelle, fille du roy des Parpaillos, belle gouge et de bonne troigne, et faisoient eux deux souvent ensemble la beste à deux doz, joyeusement se frotans leur lard, tant qu’elle engroissa d’un beau filz et le porta jusques à l’unziesme moys."

This was translated into English by Thomas Urquhart and published posthumously around 1693:

In the vigour of his age he married Gargamelle, daughter to the King of the Parpaillons, a jolly pug, and well-mouthed wench. These two did oftentimes do the two-backed beast together, joyfully rubbing and frotting their bacon 'gainst one another.


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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Beast with two backs" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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