Bad History, birth, doctors, gender, language, midwives, novels, sex

Agnodice: reading the story

The story of Agnodice, 'the first midwife', is all over the web, and is often treated like it's recounting historical events. Here, I'm going to challenge that by summarising some of what I wrote in my 2013 book, The One-Sex Body on Trial: The Classical and Early Modern Evidence (Ashgate), where I treated at length this story… Continue reading Agnodice: reading the story

Advertisements
Galen, magic, museums and collections

Catch! Attacking your enemy with words as well as weapons

A few years ago, I saw images of an object that was new to me twice, in as many days. It was this pictured lead sling-shot from the fourth century BC, found in Athens and now in the collections of the British Museum (object reference no. 1851,0507.11). The first time the image was circulated on… Continue reading Catch! Attacking your enemy with words as well as weapons

doctors, drugs, food, love, remedies, sex

Poisons and love potions

Everybody knows that the ancient Greek word pharmakon means both healing drug and poison. So how could you tell the (rather important!) difference? In Latin, the equivalent term venenum was similarly used in both senses, and Roman law codes tried to tie down that ambiguity by making it clear whether a ‘good’ or a ‘bad’… Continue reading Poisons and love potions