“The booklet had many names. I Modi or “The Fashion,” is the most popular. It’s also known as Aretino’s Postures, The Sixteen Pleasures, and De Omnibus Veneris Schematibus in Latin. Whatever it was called, people loved it. With the help of the printing press, the triumvirate (or trinity) of Romano, Raimondi, and Aretino had created the first printed porn blockbuster. Their work was first widely disseminated, then widely pirated, and finally widely imitated.

People all over Europe paid for the scandalous little book, but I Modi did more than just make money. It was one of those rare works of pornography that jumped from niche to popular culture. Like Fifty Shades of Grey or Deep Throat, it became something which could be discussed, if only as a joke, in polite society. Some believe that Shakespeare snuck a reference to I Modi into A Winter’s Tale, when he talks about “that rare Italian master, Julio Romano.” There was even a 16th century Italian phrasebook aimed at English tourists that allowed them to ask for the “works of Aretino” at Italian booksellers, according to Eric Berkowitz, who hunted down a copy for his book, Sex and Punishment: 4000 Years of Judging Desire.”

The complete Sixteen Postures can be found here.