‘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
How can you work out past societies' awareness of risk, before stats come along to help? How was risk handled in ancient Greece?
There are a lot of mistaken ideas about the ‘Hippocratic oath’; for example, that it was written by the real Hippocrates (deeply unlikely – probably written way after his supposed lifetime); that it bans abortion (no, it bans giving an abortive pessary to someone asking for one, so other methods could be fine, and… Continue reading Should physicians treat their enemies?
How do we know what's wrong with our bodies? We may be aware of symptoms – of pains, twinges, immobility. We can also aware of some of our bodily fluids: our saliva, sweat, urine, menses or semen. Sometimes a fluid which is clearly abnormal emerges from an orifice or a wound. If we seek medical treatment, our blood… Continue reading Humoral medicine: a beginner’s guide
“Do you want to know a secret?” Knowledge is power, but who knew what about women's bodies in the ancient world?