Dung, Wine and Leather Husbands Substitutes: How Women Was Healed in Ancient Greece
Dung, Wine and Leather Husbands Substitutes: How Women Was Healed in Ancient Greece

Video: Dung, Wine and Leather Husbands Substitutes: How Women Was Healed in Ancient Greece

Video: Dung, Wine and Leather Husbands Substitutes: How Women Was Healed in Ancient Greece
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Dung, Wine and Leather Substitutes for Husbands: How Women Was Healed in Ancient Greece. Painting by Augustus Jules Buvet
Dung, Wine and Leather Substitutes for Husbands: How Women Was Healed in Ancient Greece. Painting by Augustus Jules Buvet

Although the Greeks were of the same marriage, the life of the Greek women was similar to that traditionally led in Muslim countries. Greek women lived in the female half of the house and went out into the city only as a last resort, hiding their faces with a veil. It was believed that it is best not to do this until old age. But it was not only everyday life that presented difficulties. Ideas about the anatomy of women and their treatment were, in the modern opinion, completely savage.

In general, many diseases for women were treated in the same way as for men. But there was a nuance. If men were advised to add gymnastics, or running, or music, or singing to the course of treatment, for a woman this was considered not only unnecessary, but even reprehensible. The main "gymnastics" for a woman was housework, and even simple entertainments like swings or dancing with daughters and slaves outside the walls of the gynekeye - the female half.

In ancient Greece, many goddesses were worshiped, and some of them patronized women. Image of Demeter, goddess of fertility, by Evelyn de Morgan
In ancient Greece, many goddesses were worshiped, and some of them patronized women. Image of Demeter, goddess of fertility, by Evelyn de Morgan

Of course, the Spartans were an exception. Their women, like men, were instructed to do a lot of sports. Both in Sparta and in the rest of Greece, a woman with a physical defect, an imperfect figure, a spoiled face was considered guilty of her condition - it supposedly reflects, first of all, a state of mind.

The ideas of the doctors of ancient Greece about the female anatomy seem very strange. So, Aristotle believed that a girl is a boy underdeveloped in the womb, whose genitals simply did not come out normally. It would seem that if a girl is the same as a boy, then one could give them equal rights, but, as we remember, the Greeks considered deviations from the norm as a sign of the gods that a person is somehow bad by nature. Aristotle also believed that by nature a woman has fewer teeth, and did not know that the vagina and urethra are not one.

The goddess Athena patronized healers too. Painting by Rebecca Guay
The goddess Athena patronized healers too. Painting by Rebecca Guay

The popular doctrine that four fluids interact in a person gave unexpected moves in the treatment of patients. For example, women with hypermenorrhea - dangerously heavy periods - were bleeding. The logic was this: since so much blood comes out, it means that there is too much of it in the body, and the excess must be vented. Needless to say, as a result of this treatment, only the fittest survived?

As the cause of one or another ailment in a woman, the doctor could consider a lack of sex life. It was believed that women are much more temperamental than men and are simply obsessed with sex. So the doctor could prescribe the patient's husband to visit her more often (however, this did not even imply that the wife needed an orgasm - the main thing, the fact itself). And if he liked young men or the society of heterosexuals much more, it was always possible to buy a high-quality substitute made of leather. They were very popular with Greek ladies.

The patroness of animals, Artemis, was not interested in human affairs. Painting by Guillaume Senjac
The patroness of animals, Artemis, was not interested in human affairs. Painting by Guillaume Senjac

It was believed that if the exorbitant female sexual instinct is not satisfied, then her uterus will literally wander through the body. The wandering of the uterus was explained by premature birth. In this case, the treatment was simple: they put a little manure on the woman's stomach. The Greeks believed that the female body is very fond of impurities, and the uterus itself will rush to the right place, so to speak, to the smell. After a miscarriage in the early stages, they were treated a little better: they were given fried mule excrement, mixed in wine, to drink.

It was not difficult to wander the uterus, since, according to the ideas of the Greeks, a woman had a lot of space in her stomach. Therefore, there was such a method of determining pregnancy as putting onions wrapped in a rag into the vagina. If the next morning a woman pulls an onion out of her mouth, it means that the place inside is not yet closed by the uterus swollen from pregnancy. Unfortunately, the Greeks did not leave us exact data on the effectiveness of the method.

Another strange way of determining pregnancy, which was practiced in those days - a red stone was rubbed in front of a woman's eyes, and if the dust settled on the whites of the eyes, the woman was considered pregnant.

Goddesses Athena, Hera and Aphrodite in front of Paris. Each of them patronized the Greek woman in its own way. Painting by Franz von Stuck
Goddesses Athena, Hera and Aphrodite in front of Paris. Each of them patronized the Greek woman in its own way. Painting by Franz von Stuck

Although a certain number of heirs were expected from a woman, the Greeks were constantly looking for effective methods of protection. Where it was possible to get active herbs, they made drugs from them, in other places they twisted them. To prevent conception, the man was advised to use a large amount of olive and cedar oil lubricant (and Aristotle believed that lead should also be added to it). The woman was advised, after intercourse, to squat down and snooze. And for intercourse itself - if pregnancy was not the goal - it was considered a good riding pose.

If a husband brought herpes home from symposiums (drunkards in a circle of comrades and musicians of easy virtue), the woman had a hard time. On the recommendation of Greek doctors, herpes blisters should have been burned out with a hot iron!

In Sparta, it was believed that a girl before her wedding night could be very constrained. To get her excited, they gave her quince. It is not known whether they gave instructions to the bride and groom on the correct behavior in bed.

The deity of justice was also a lady, Themis, and her daughter, the goddess of truth Dike, helped her. Portrait of Themis by Anton Losenko
The deity of justice was also a lady, Themis, and her daughter, the goddess of truth Dike, helped her. Portrait of Themis by Anton Losenko

For most of Greek history, doctors avoided leading and participating in childbirth. The woman gave birth either on her own or with the help of a midwife who came to the rescue. It is true that the doctors consulted the midwives and wrote manuals for them. The doctors were also consulted if the childbirth was so difficult that the woman was about to die. Usually she would die anyway, but the doctor could perform a cesarean section on a cooling corpse and save the baby. According to legend, this is how a man was born, who learned healing from Athena and who later became the god of medicine - Asclepius.

Hippocrates was very interested in the female body, so much so that he was able to find a woman's clitoris (he called it "a small column"). The famous doctor believed that boys and girls develop in women in different halves of the uterus, and by whether the nipples look down or up, one can determine the sex of the unborn child. In addition, if the child walked forward with the pelvis or legs during childbirth, Hippocrates believed that help was impossible in principle and the child had to be cut and pulled out in pieces. Quite shocking given how many ancient cultures knew how to accept a child with an incorrect presentation (even if it did not always work out successfully). Perhaps the midwives of Ancient Greece also knew what to do, but Hippocrates considered it beneath his dignity to consult with them.

Alas, the goddesses who protected women could not even protect themselves. Hera was raped by her brother Zeus, after which she had to become his wife. Portrait of Hera by Dante Gabriel Rossetti
Alas, the goddesses who protected women could not even protect themselves. Hera was raped by her brother Zeus, after which she had to become his wife. Portrait of Hera by Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Male doctors did not have the right to examine their patients and only questioned them, and there were no female doctors. A brave girl is known who tried to turn this situation around. A resident of Athens named Agnodice decided to study medicine in Alexandria. To do this, she had to not only wear men's clothes, but also cut her hair - for a Greek woman, an almost unthinkable action, because such a hairstyle was worn by prostitutes.

Once Agnodice came to treat a certain sick woman. She, of course, flatly refused to admit a doctor. Then Agnodica showed the patient's breast on the sly. The woman calmed down, and Agnodica was able to examine her and prescribe treatment - by the way, the same as prescribed for men, since medicine had already advanced in those days and moved away from excrement. The patient recovered, but was unable to keep secrets to herself, and soon the secret of Agnodice became known throughout Alexandria. City doctors filed a complaint against her. However, during the trial, a crowd of townspeople attacked the judges, calling them enemies of women, and the judges allowed not only Agnodice, but any woman from now on to study medicine and practice medicine. True, it is not known whether someone took advantage of this permission after the brave Athenian woman. Still, for training, one would have to go to a place full of men - it was very immodest.

It's amazing against the background of such disdain for a woman in general to see what jewelry was worn in Ancient Greece: mesmerizing masterpieces and unsurpassed skill of their creators.

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