Classical theories of human reproduction consistently ascribed superior powers to the male principle. Some theories were quite extreme, limiting woman's contribution to the nourishment of the male seed. Others allowed that women contributed seed but argued that their seed was inferior.
From the classical period, the biological writings of Aristotle ( 384-322 B.C.) influenced reproductive theory well into the sixteenth century. Aristotle believed that the male contributed seed that was responsible for determining the form and function of the organism. He depicted the female principle as supplying only the blood upon which the male imposed form. Aristotle supported this position by arguing that the female did not contribute seed to generation. He claimed that women were impotent. Aristotle equated menstrual fluids with the blood males were able to transform into semen and argued that women lacked sufficient heat to turn this blood into potent seed.
Aristotle's tenet that women produced no semen had numerous ramifications for his understanding of human creation. He supported the view that the fetus was contained within the male, who placed it in the female. The male imparted the form of the fetus to the female. Aristotle employed the metaphor of a carpenter carving out a bed to explain the process of