beards, birth, death, doctors, Hippocrates, love, menstruation, pregnancy, womb

Gendered flesh, prolapse and ‘sex change’: the case of Phaethousa

‘Her body was masculinized (τό τε σῶμα ἠνδρώθη)’. This is one aspect of the description of Phaethousa of Abdera, who features in one of the Hippocratic ‘case histories’ from probably the fourth century BC. When her husband leaves, or goes into exile, this previously fecund woman stops menstruating and experiences a range of symptoms, including… Continue reading Gendered flesh, prolapse and ‘sex change’: the case of Phaethousa

death, medical instruments, midwives, museums and collections

The mummy returns

      Have you seen the Egyptian mummies in the British Museum? Even if you’ve never been to London, you may have caught the travelling exhibition, ‘Mummy: The Inside Story’, which focuses on the priest Nesperennub, and has so far been seen by nearly 2 million people. Mummies are endlessly fascinating. They give nightmares… Continue reading The mummy returns

death, diseases

The Plague of Athens: dying like sheep?

I like sheep. When I was staying in the Netherlands some years ago, I was very excited because we were invited on a trip to what I heard as the ‘Sheep Museum’. Puzzled as to how there could be enough material to fill such a place, I went along enthusiastically, but was a little disappointed… Continue reading The Plague of Athens: dying like sheep?