death, diseases, teaching

The Chameleon in the Classroom

This is a story of illness and magic from the fourth century CE. Even though Constantine had converted the Roman Empire to Christianity, paganism didn’t just lie down and die. One of the most famous pagan intellectuals was Libanius, a distinguished orator who taught rhetoric to famous Christian figures such as Basil the Great and… Continue reading The Chameleon in the Classroom

food, teaching

Roman Medicine: Those Cabbages…

I'm a great fan of the British TV comedy series, Plebs, which follows the adventures of two young Roman men and their slave in the big city. In one episode, one of the many interesting remedies of ancient medicine was featured, although not in a standard role! The series is built on finding entertaining parallels between its… Continue reading Roman Medicine: Those Cabbages…

Bad History, menstruation

Menotoxin – when menstruation can kill?

In the 1920s there was a serious medical debate about an invisible substance called ‘menotoxin’. This was believed to exist in menstrual blood; it could blight flowers and prevent jam from setting, and bread from rising. The theory can be seen as a surprising throwback, in the age of germs (germs, rather than air or… Continue reading Menotoxin – when menstruation can kill?