Medicae: Women Doctors from the Roman Empire

Some more Non-Elite Latin from the tireless Brandon Conley

  1. AE 1937, 0017.
inscription for blog
(Image from EDH)

Hic iacet Sarman/na medica vixit / pl(us) m(inus) an(nos) LXX Pientius / Pientinus fili(us) et / Honorata norus / titolum posuerunt / in pace

“Here lies Sarmana the doctor. She lived around 70 years. Pientius, her son Pientinus, and daughter-in-law Honorata placed this monument. In peace.”

 

  1. AE 2001, 00263

C(aius) Naevius C(ai) l(ibertus) Phi[lippus] / medicus chirurg(us) / Naevia C(ai) l(iberta) Clara / medica philolog(a) / in fro(nte) ped(es) XI s(emis) / in agr(o) ped(es) XVI

“Gaius Naevius Philippus, freedman of Gaius, doctor and surgeon. Naevia Clara, freedwoman of Gaius, doctor and scholar. (Tomb size) 11.5 feet wide, 16 feet deep.”

 

  1. CIL 1.497
Arachne
(Image from Arachne)

D(is) M(anibus) s(acrum) / Iuliae Saturninae / ann(orum) XXXXV / uxori incompara/bili me[dic]ae optimae / mulieri sanctissimae / Cassius Philippus / maritus ob meritis / h(ic) s(ita) e(st) s(it) t(ibi) t(erra) l(evis)

“A sacred rite to the spirits of the dead. To Julia Saturnina, age 45, an incomparable wife, the best doctor, the most noble woman. Gaius Philippus, her husband, (made this) for her merits. She is buried here. May the earth be light on you.”

 

  1. CIL 6.09616

D(is) M(anibus) / Terentiae / Niceni Terentiae / Primaes medicas li/bertae fecerunt / Mussius Antiochus / et Mussia Dionysia / fil(ii) m(atri) b(ene) m(erenti)

“To the spirits of the dead. To Terentia of Nicaea, freedwoman of the doctor Terentia Prima. Mussius Antiochus and Mussia Dionysia, her children, made this for their well-deserving mother.”

  1. CIL 13.02019
EDCS
(Image from EDCS)

Metilia Donata medic[a] / de sua pecunia dedit / l(ocus) d(atus) d(ecreto) d(ecurionum)

“Metilia Donata, a doctor, gave this with her own money. This spot was given by decree of the decurions.”

  1. CIL 11.06394

…xia viva fecit / Tutilia Cn(aei) Tutili leib(erta) / Menotia hoc moniment(um) / fecit Octavia[e] Auli l(ibertae) / Artimisiae medicae

…(?) “Tutilia Menotia, freedwoman of Gnaeus Tutilus, made this monument for the doctor Octavia Artemisia, freedwoman of Aulus.”

A Physician’s Notes on the Lives and Deaths of Women

Hippocrates, Epidemics 5.101

 “A woman in Abdera developed cancer on her chest, and bloody plasma leaked out through her nipple. Once the flowing stopped, she died.”

Γυναικί, ἐν Ἀβδήροισι καρκίνωμα ἐγένετο περὶ στῆθος, διὰ τῆς θηλῆς ἔρρει ἰχὼρ ὕφαιμος· ἐπιληφθείσης δὲ τῆς ῥύσιος ἔθανεν.

There is an earlier account of breast cancer in Herodotus:

Herodotus, 3.133

“A little while later following these events, some other things happened. Cyrus’ daughter and Dareios’ wife, Atossa, developed a swelling in her breast. It burst out and expanded. As long as it was rather small, she hid it and told no one because she was ashamed. But when it became worse, she summoned Democedes and showed him. He told her that he could make her  healthy again but had her swear to him that she would reward him with whatever he asked from her, but that he would request nothing which would bring shame on her.”

ἐν χρόνῳ δὲ ὀλίγῳ μετὰ ταῦτα τάδε ἄλλα συνήνεικε γενέσθαι. Ἀτόσσῃ τῇ Κύρου μὲν θυγατρὶ Δαρείου δὲ γυναικὶ ἐπὶ τοῦ μαστοῦ ἔφυ φῦμα, μετὰ δὲ ἐκραγὲν ἐνέμετο πρόσω. ὅσον μὲν δὴ χρόνον ἦν ἔλασσον, ἣ δὲ κρύπτουσα καὶ αἰσχυνομένη ἔφραζε οὐδενί: ἐπείτε δὲ ἐν κακῷ ἦν, μετεπέμψατο τὸν Δημοκήδεα καί οἱ ἐπέδεξε. ὁ δὲ φὰς ὑγιέα ποιήσειν ἐξορκοῖ μιν ἦ μέν οἱ ἀντυπουργήσειν ἐκείνην τοῦτο τὸ ἂν αὐτῆς δεηθῇ: δεήσεσθαι δὲ οὐδενὸς τῶν ὅσα ἐς αἰσχύνην ἐστὶ φέροντα.

This has been called the “earliest account of inflammatory mastitis

Hippocrates of Cos Epidemics 5.25

“In Larissa, Dyseris’ servant, when she was still young, experienced severe pain whenever she had intercourse. But she was without pain otherwise. She was never pregnant. When she was sixty, she started feeling pan at midday as if she were in severe labor pains. Before midday, she had eaten many leeks and when the pain overcame her and was the strongest of all, she rose up and felt something rough-edged near the entrance to her womb. Then, because she had already fainted, another woman inserted her hand and withdrew a stone which was as big as a spindle top and very rough. After that she was immediately healthy.”

Ἐν Λαρίσῃ ἀμφίπολος Δυσήριδος, νέη ἐοῦσα ὁκότε λαγνεύοιτο περιωδύνει ἰσχυρῶς, ἄλλως δὲ ἀνώδυνος ἦν. ἐκύησε δὲ οὐδέποτε. ἑξηκονταέτης γενομένη ὠδυνᾶτο ἀπὸ μέσου ἡμέρης, ὡς ὠδίνουσα ἰσχυρῶς· πρὸ δὲ μέσου ἡμέρης αὕτη πράσα τρώγουσα πολλά, ἐπειδὴ ὀδύνη αὐτὴν ἔλαβεν ἰσχυροτάτη τῶν πρόσθεν, ἀναστᾶσα ἐπέψαυσέ τινος τρηχέος ἐν τῷ στόματι τῆς μήτρης. ἔπειτα, ἤδη λειποψυχούσης αὐτῆς, ἑτέρη γυνὴ καθεῖσα τὴν χεῖρα ἐξεπίεσε λίθον ὅσον σπόνδυλον ἀτράκτου, τρηχύν· καὶ ὑγιὴς τότε αὐτίκα καὶ ἔπειτα ἦν.

5.50

“Nerios’ beautiful virgin daughter was twenty years old when she was struck on the forehead by a flat hand when she was playing with a young woman friend. When it happened, she became blind and out of breath; when she went home, a fever came over her right away. Her head hurt; she was flushed all over her face. By the seventh day, a bad-smelling pus flowed out of her right ear—it was red colored and there was more than a fifth of a cup of it. She seemed to feel better and was relieved. But she was stretched out again later because of a fever. She was feeling badly and was speechless. The right part of her face was contracted and she breathed with difficulty. She also had spasms of trembling. Her tongue stopped working. Her eye was affected. She died on the ninth day.”

Ἡ παρθένος ἡ καλὴ ἡ τοῦ Νερίου ἦν μὲν εἰκοσαέτης, ὑπὸ δὲ γυναίου φίλης παιζούσης πλατέῃ τῇ χειρὶ ἐπλήγη κατὰ τὸ βρέγμα. καὶ τότε μὲν ἐσκοτώθη καὶ ἄπνοος ἐγένετο, καὶ ὅτε ἐς οἶκον ἦλθεν αὐτίκα τὸ πῦρ εἶχε, καὶ ἤλγει τὴν κεφαλήν, καὶ ἔρευθος ἀμφὶ τὸ πρόσωπον ἦν. ἑβδόμῃ ἐούσῃ, ἀμφὶ τὸ οὖς τὸ δεξιὸν πύον ἐχώρησε δυσῶδες, ὑπέρυθρον, πλεῖον κυάθου, καὶ ἔδοξεν ἄμεινον ἔχειν, καὶ ἐκουφίσθη. πάλιν ἐπετείνετο τῷ πυρετῷ, καὶ κατεφέρετο, καὶ ἄναυδος ἦν, καὶ τοῦ προσώπου τὸ δεξιὸν μέρος εἵλκετο, καὶ δύσπνοος ἦν, καὶ σπασμὸς τρομώδης ἦν. καὶ γλῶσσα εἴχετο, ὀφθαλμὸς καταπλήξ· ἐνάτῃ ἔθανεν.

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Wellcome Library, London, MS 49, Apocalypse

Gassy After Sex and Consuming Souls

Two notes from Hippocrates’ Epidemics

 6.294

“There are those who get gassy when they have sex, like Damnagoras did. And others fart during sex.”

Ἔστιν οἷσιν ὅταν ἀφροδισιάζωσι φυσᾶται ἡ γαστήρ, ὡς Δαμναγόρᾳ, οἷσι δ᾿ ἐν τούτῳ ψόφος.

6.317

“A person’s soul keeps growing until death. When the soul grows feverish because of a sickness, it consumes the body.”

Ἀνθρώπου ψυχὴ φύεται μέχρι θανάτου· ἢν δὲ ἐκπυρωθῇ ἅμα τῇ νούσῳ καὶ ἡ ψυχή, τὸ σῶμα φέρβεται

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Image found on ResearchGate

Fertility Troubles? Hippocrates Prescribes a Puppy…

Hippocrates of Cos, On Barrenness 3

The following is a penultimate step in a treatment for female infertility

“During the final vapor bath, at that moment when she is about to stop the treatment, cut open the youngest puppy you can find, pound down every kind of fragrant and dry aromatic spices. After you have removed the puppy’s innards, fill it as much as you can with the aromatics and pack them in. Put wood underneath, put the puppy in the pot and add in some extremely fragrant wine before you raise the temperature through the pipe.

As much as her strength will allow, have the woman stay in the vapor bath the entire day, continuing the heating and asking her whether she thinks that the smell of the herbs is coming through her mouth. For this is no small sign that the woman being treated has conceived.”

(3) Τὴν τελευταῖαν δὲ πυρίην, ὅταν μέλλῃς ἀφιέναι τῆς θεραπείης, σκυλάκιον ὅτι νεώτατον ἀνασχίσας, ἀρωμάτων παντοδαπῶν ὅτι εὐωδεστάτων καὶ ξηροτάτων κόψας, τὰ ἐντοσθίδια ἐξελὼν τοῦ σκυλακίου ἐμπλῆσαι καὶ σάξαι ὅτι μάλιστα τῶν ἀρωμάτων, ξυλήφια δὲ ὑποθείς, ἐς τὸν ἐχῖνον ἐνθεὶς τὸ σκυλάκιον, οἴνου ὡς εὐωδεστάτου ἐπιχέαι, καὶ πυριῆν διὰ τοῦ αὐλοῦ· καὶ ὅπως κατὰ δύναμιν εἶναι ὅλην τὴν ἡμέρην ἐπὶ ταύτης τῆς πυρίης, πυριῆσαί τε καὶ ἐρωτᾶν αὐτήν, εἰ ὀδμὴ διὰ τοῦ στόματος δοκέει ὄζειν τῶν ἀρωμάτων· σημεῖον γὰρ οὐ σμικρὸν ἐς ξύλληψιν τῇ θεραπευομένῃ.

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Paris, Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève, ms. 143, fol. 174r

The Evidence from Madness: Aristotle on the Mind-Body Problem

Aristotle, Physiognomics 808b

“[in this case] the soul and the body would experience things together, but they would not have the same reactions as one another. But, now, it is entirely clear that one follows another. This is especially obvious from the following. For madness seems to be a matter of the mind; doctors, however, respond to it by cleansing the body with medicines and also by telling them to pursue certain habits in life which may relieve the mind of madness.

So, the form of the body is relieved by treatments to the body at the very same time that the soul is freed from madness. Since they are both relieved together, it is clear that their reactions are in synchrony. It is also clear from this that the forms special to the body are similar to the capabilities of the mind, with the result that all similarities in living things are clear signs of some kind of sameness.”

ἡ ψυχή τε καὶ τὸ σῶμα συμπαθῆ, οὐ μέντοι συνδιατελοῦντα ἀλλήλοις. νῦν δὲ καταφανὲς ὅτι ἑκάτερον ἑκατέρῳ ἕπεται. μάλιστα μέντοι ἐκ τοῦδε δῆλον γένοιτο. μανία γὰρ δοκεῖ εἶναι περὶ ψυχήν, καὶ οἱ ἰατροὶ φαρμάκοις καθαίροντες τὸ σῶμα καὶ διαίταις τισὶ πρὸς αὐτοῖς χρησάμενοι ἀπαλλάττουσι τὴν ψυχὴν τῆς μανίας. ταῖς δὴ τοῦ σώματος θεραπείαις καὶ ἅμα ἥ τε τοῦ σώματος μορφὴ λέλυται καὶ ἡ ψυχὴ μανίας ἀπήλλακται. ἐπειδὴ οὖν ἅμα ἀμφότερα λύονται, δῆλον ὅτι συνδιατελοῦσιν ἀλλήλοις. συμφανὲς δὲ καὶ ὅτι ταῖς δυνάμεσι τῆς ψυχῆς ὅμοιαι αἱ μορφαὶ τοῖς σώμασιν ἐπιγίνονται, ὥστ᾿ ἐστὶν ἅπαντα ὅμοια ἐν τοῖς ζῴοις τοῦ αὐτοῦ τινὸς δηλωτικά.

Epictetus, Fr. 26

“Epictetus used to say, ‘you’re a tiny soul lugging around a corpse’.”

Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν, ὡς Ἐπίκτητος ἔλεγεν.

Add_ms_37049_f038v
London, British Library, MS Additional 37049, f. 38v

A New Workout Routine: Jumping Weights

Philostratus, Gymnasticus 55

“The jumping-weight [halter] was a discovery of the pentathletes—it was developed for jumping [halma] where it gets its name. The rules which render the jumping rather difficult among the competitions urge the one jumping along with the flute and lighten him additionally with the jumping-weight. For, it produces a steadfast directional for the hands and regular and clearly-marked stride along the ground. The regulations clarify how much this is worth—for they do not permit measuring of the jump unless a clear footprint is obtained.

The greater weights of jumping help to exercise shoulders and hands while round weights serve to exercise fingers too. Both heavy and light athletes should practice with weights in all their activities except for moments of rest.”

Ἁλτὴρ δὲ πεντάθλων μὲν εὕρημα, εὕρηται δὲ ἐς τὸ ἅλμα, ἀφ’ οὗ δὴ καὶ ὠνόμασται· οἱ γὰρ νόμοι τὸ πήδημα χαλεπώτερον ἡγούμενοι τῶν ἐν ἀγῶνι τῷ τε αὐλῷ προσεγείρουσι τὸν πηδῶντα καὶ τῷ ἁλτῆρι προσελαφρύνουσι· πομπός τε γὰρ τῶν χειρῶν ἀσφαλὴς καὶ τὸ βῆμα ἑδραῖόν τε καὶ εὔσημον εἰς τὴν γῆν ἄγει. τουτὶ δὲ ὁπόσου ἄξιον οἱ νόμοι δηλοῦσιν· οὐ γὰρ ξυγχωροῦσι διαμετρεῖν τὸ πήδημα, ἢν μὴ ἀρτίως ἔχῃ τοῦ ἴχνους. γυμνάζουσι δὲ οἱ μὲν μακροὶ τῶν ἁλτήρων ὤμους τε καὶ χεῖρας, οἱ δὲ σφαιροειδεῖς καὶ δακτύλους. παραληπτέοι δὲ καὶ κούφοις ὁμοίως καὶ βαρέσιν ἐς πάντα γυμνάσια πλὴν τοῦ ἀναπαύοντος

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Black Figure Vase, British Museum, 540 BCE
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Jumping Weights

It Is Good For Women to Exercise Too! (But for Predictable, Instrumental Reasons)

Philostratus, Gymnasticus 27

“And there is also a notion older than this which seemed right to Lykourgos for Sparta. Because he meant to provide warrior-athletes for Sparta, he said, “Let the girls exercise and permit them to run in public. Certainly this strengthening of their bodies was for the sake of good childbearing and that they would have better offspring.

For one who comes from this training to her husband’s home will not hesitate to carry water or to mill grain because she has prepared from her youth. And if she is joined together with a youth who has joined her in rigorous exercise, she will provide better offspring—for they will be tall, strong and rarely sick. Sparta became so preeminent in war once her marriages were prepared in this way.”

Καίτοι καὶ πρεσβύτερον τούτου, ὃ καὶ Λυκούργῳ ἐδόκει τῷ Σπαρτιάτῃ· παριστάμενος γὰρ τῇ Λακεδαίμονι πολεμικοὺς ἀθλητὰς, “γυμναζέσθων,” φησὶν, “αἱ κόραι καὶ ἀνείσθων δημοσίᾳ τρέχειν.” ὑπὲρ εὐπαιδίας δήπου καὶ τοῦ τὰ ἔκγονα βελτίω τίκτειν ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐρρῶσθαι τὸ σῶμα· ἀφικομένη γὰρ ἐς ἀνδρὸς ὑδροφορεῖν οὐκ ὀκνήσει οὐδὲ ἀλεῖν διὰ τὸ ἠσκῆσθαι ἐκ νέας· εἰ δὲ καὶ νέῳ καὶ συγγυμναζομένῳ συζυγείη, βελτίω τὰ ἔκγονα ἀποδώσει, καὶ γὰρ εὐμήκη καὶ ἰσχυρὰ καὶ ἄνοσα. καὶ ἐγένετο ἡ Λακεδαίμων τοσαύτη κατὰ πόλεμον, ἐπειδὴ τὰ γαμικὰ αὐτοῖς ὧδε ἐπράττετο.

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