Laughing at Babies

Pseudo-Hippocrates, Letter 9.360 

 “I [Hippocrates] said, “Know that you should explain the reason for your laughter.” And [Democritus], after glaring at me for a bit, said, “you believe that there are two reasons for my laughter, good things and bad things. But I laugh for one reason: the human being. Humans are full of ignorance but empty of correct affairs, acting like babies in their little plots, and also laboring over endless toil without winning any profit.

Humans travel to the ends of the earth and over the uncharted wilds with unchecked desires, minting silver and gold and never stopping in the pursuit of possession, but always throwing a fit for more, so that there’s never one bit less than others have. And then, they are not at all ashamed to call themselves happy.”

[ΙΠ.] “ἴσθι δὲ νῦν περὶ σέο γέλωτος τῷ βίῳ λόγον δώσων.”

ὁ δὲ μάλα τρανὸν ἐπιδών μοι, “δύο,” φησὶ, “τοῦ ἐμοῦ γέλωτος αἰτίας δοκέεις, ἀγαθὰ καὶ φαῦλα· ἐγὼ δὲ ἕνα γελῶ τὸν ἄνθρωπον, ἀνοίης μὲν γέμοντα, κενεὸν δὲ πρηγμάτων ὀρθῶν, πάσῃσιν ἐπιβουλῇσι νηπιάζοντα, καὶ μηδεμιῆς ἕνεκεν ὠφελείης ἀλγέοντα τοὺς ἀνηνύτους μόχθους, πείρατα γῆς καὶ ἀορίστους μυχοὺς ἀμέτροισιν ἐπιθυμίῃσιν ὁδεύοντα, ἄργυρον τήκοντα καὶ χρυσὸν, καὶ μὴ παυόμενον τῆς κτήσιος ταύτης, αἰεὶ δὲ θορυβεύμενον περὶ τὸ πλέον, ὅκως αὐτοῦ ἐλάσσων μὴ γένηται· καὶ οὐδὲν αἰσχύνεται λεγόμενος εὐδαίμων [. . .].”

Image result for medieval manuscript crying baby

Music Heals the Suffering of the Soul

Apollonius Paradoxographus, Historiae Mirabiles 49

“These things are worth knowing. Theophrastos has explained them in is work On Enthusiasm. For he says that music heals when suffering afflicts the soul and the body such as desperation, phobias, and the madnesses of belief which are more serious. For instrumental flute music, he continues, heals both hip pain and epilepsy.

Similarly is the power attributed to Aristoxenos the musician when he came—for he was getting a prophecy from the prophet of his sister Pasiphilê—for resuscitated a person in Thebes who was bewitched by the sound of a trumpet. For when he heard it he yelled out so much that he behaved indecently. If someone at any point even in war should blow the trumpet, then he should suffer much worse in his madness. So, he exposed him bit by bit to the flute—and, as one might say, he used this as an introduction for him to endure the trumpet as well.

The flute heals even if some part of the body is in pain. When the body is subject to flute music, let the instrumental music persist for five days at least. The toil will be surprisingly less on the first day and the second. This application of the flute treatment is common even elsewhere, but especially so in Thebes up to this day.”

49 ῎Αξια δ’ ἐστὶν ἐπιστάσεως [τὰ εἰρημένα.] <ἃ> Θεόφραστος ἐν τῷ περὶ ἐνθουσιασμοῦ ἐξεῖπεν. φησὶ γὰρ ἐκεῖνος τὴν μουσικὴν πολλὰ τῶν ἐπὶ ψυχὴν καὶ τὸ σῶμα γιγνομένων παθῶν ἰατρεύειν, καθάπερ λιποθυμίαν, φόβους καὶ τὰἐπὶ μακρὸν γιγνομένας τῆς διανοίας ἐκστάσεις. ἰᾶται γάρ, φησίν, ἡ καταύλησις καὶ ἰσχιάδα καὶ ἐπιληψίαν·

καθάπερ πρὸς ᾿Αριστόξενον τὸν μουσικὸν ἐλθόντα—χρήσασθαι αὐτὸν† τοῦ μαντίου τοῦ τῆς Πασιφίλης δαμωτι ἀδελφῆς † —λέγεται [τὸν μουσικὸν] καταστῆναί τινα ἐξιστάμενον ἐν Θήβαις ὑπὸ τὴν τῆς σάλπιγγος φωνήν· ἐπὶ τοσοῦτον γὰρ ἐβόησεν ἀκούων, ὥστε ἀσχημονεῖν· εἰ δέ ποτε καὶ πολεμικὸν σαλπίσειέ τις, πολὺ χεῖρον πάσχειν μαινόμενον. τοῦτον οὖν κατὰ μικρὸν  τῷ αὐλῷ προσάγειν, καὶ ὡς ἄν τις εἴποι ἐκ προσαγωγῆς ἐποίησεν καὶ τὴν σάλπιγγος φωνὴν ὑπομένειν.

θεραπεύει δὲ ἡ καταύλησις καὶ ἐάν τι μέρος τοῦ σώματος ἐν ἀλγήματι ὑπάρχῃ· καταυλουμένου τοῦ σώματος καταύλησις γιγνέσθω ἡμέρας ε′ ὡς ἐλάχιστα, καὶ εὐθέως τῇ πρώτῃ ἡμέρᾳ ἐλάττων ὁ πόνος γενήσεται καὶ τῇ δευτέρᾳ. τὸ δὲ γιγνόμενον διὰ τῆς καταυλήσεως ἐπιχωριάζει καὶ ἀλλαχῇ, μάλιστα δὲ ἐνΘήβαις μέχρι τῶν νῦν χρόνων.

There are similar accounts from Pythagorean Traditions

Porphyry, On the Life of Pythagoras

30. “[Pythagoras] healed psychic and bodily sufferings with rhythm, songs, and incantations. He adapted these treatments to his companions, while he himself heard the harmony of everything because he could understand the unity of the spheres and the harmonies of the stars moving with them. It is not our nature to hear this in the least.”

30. κατεκήλει δὲ ῥυθμοῖς καὶ μέλεσι καὶ ἐπῳδαῖς τὰ ψυχικὰ πάθη καὶ τὰ σωματικά. καὶ τοῖς μὲν ἑταίροις ἡρμόζετο ταῦτα, αὐτὸς δὲ τῆς τοῦ παντὸς ἁρμονίας ἠκροᾶτο συνιεὶς τῆς καθολικῆς τῶν σφαιρῶν καὶ τῶν κατ’ αὐτὰς κινουμένων ἀστέρων ἁρμονίας, ἧς ἡμᾶς μὴ ἀκούειν διὰ σμικρότητα τῆς φύσεως.

32. “Diogenes says that Pythagoras encouraged all men to avoid ambition and lust for fame, because they especially inculcate envy, and also to stay away from large crowds. He used to convene gatherings at his house at dawn himself, accompanying his singing to the lyre and singing some ancient songs of Thales. And he also sang the songs of Hesiod and Homer, as many as appeared to calm his spirit. He would also dance some dances which he believed brought good mobility and health to the body. He used to take walks himself but not with a crowd, taking only two or three companions to shrines or groves, finding the most peaceful and beautiful places.”

32. Διογένης φησὶν ὡς ἅπασι μὲν παρηγγύα φιλοτιμίαν φεύγειν καὶ φιλοδοξίαν, ὥπερ μάλιστα φθόνον ἐργάζεσθαι, ἐκτρέπεσθαι δὲ τὰς μετὰ τῶν πολλῶν ὁμιλίας. τὰς γοῦν διατριβὰς καὶ αὐτὸς ἕωθεν μὲν ἐπὶ τῆς οἰκίας ἐποιεῖτο, ἁρμοζόμενος πρὸς λύραν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ φωνὴν καὶ ᾄδων παιᾶνας ἀρχαίους τινὰς τῶν Θάλητος. καὶ ἐπῇδε τῶν ῾Ομήρου καὶ ῾Ησιόδου ὅσα καθημεροῦν τὴν ψυχὴν ἐδόξαζε. καὶ ὀρχήσεις δέ τινας ὑπωρχεῖτο ὁπόσας εὐκινησίαν καὶ ὑγείαν τῷ σώματι παρασκευάζειν ᾤετο. τοὺς δὲ περιπάτους οὐδ’ αὐτὸς ἐπιφθόνως μετὰ πολλῶν ἐποιεῖτο, ἀλλὰ δεύτερος ἢ τρίτος ἐν ἱεροῖς ἢ ἄλσεσιν, ἐπιλεγόμενος τῶν χωρίων τὰ ἡσυχαίτατα καὶ περικαλλέστατα.

33. “He loved his friends overmuch and was the first to declare that friends possessions are common and that a friend is another self. When they were healthy, he always talked to them; when they were sick, he took care of their bodies. If they were mentally ill, he consoled them, as we said before, some with incantations and spells, others by music. He had songs and paeans for physical ailments: when he sang them, he relieved fatigue. He also could cause forgetfulness of grief, calming of anger, and redirection of desire.”

33.τοὺς δὲ φίλους ὑπερηγάπα, κοινὰ μὲν τὰ τῶν φίλων εἶναι πρῶτος ἀποφηνάμενος, τὸν δὲ φίλον ἄλλον ἑαυτόν. καὶ ὑγιαίνουσι μὲν αὐτοῖς ἀεὶ συνδιέτριβεν, κάμνοντας δὲ τὰ σώματα ἐθεράπευεν, καὶ τὰς ψυχὰς δὲ νοσοῦντας παρεμυθεῖτο, καθάπερ ἔφαμεν, τοὺς μὲν ἐπῳδαῖς καὶ μαγείαις τοὺς δὲ μουσικῇ. ἦν γὰρ αὐτῷ μέλη καὶ πρὸς νόσους σωμάτων παιώνια, ἃ ἐπᾴδων ἀνίστη τοὺς κάμνοντας. ἦν <δ’> ἃ καὶ λύπης λήθην εἰργάζετο καὶ ὀργὰς ἐπράυνε καὶ ἐπιθυμίας ἀτόπους ἐξῄρει.

 

Iamblichus, Life of Pythagoras 111–112

“Pythagoras believed that music produced great benefits for health, should someone apply it in the appropriate manner. For he was known to use this kind of cleansing and not carelessly. And he also called the healing from music that very thing, a purification. And he used a melody as follows during the spring season. He sat in the middle someone who could play the lyre and settled around him in a circle people who could sing. They would sing certain paeans as he played and through this they seemed to become happy, unified, and directed.

At another time they used music in the place of medicine, and there were certain songs composed against sufferings of the mind, especially despair and bitterness—songs which were created as the greatest aids. He also composed others against rage, desires, and every type of wandering of the soul. There was also another kind of performance he discovered for troubles: he also used dancing.

He used the lyre as an instrument since he considered flutes to induce arrogance as a dramatic sound which had no type of freeing resonance. He also used selected words from Homer and Hesiod for the correction of the soul.”

     ῾Υπελάμβανε δὲ καὶ τὴν μουσικὴν μεγάλα συμβάλλεσθαι πρὸς ὑγείαν, ἄν τις αὐτῇ χρῆται κατὰ τοὺς προσήκοντας τρόπους. εἰώθει γὰρ οὐ παρέργως τῇ τοιαύτῃ χρῆσθαι καθάρσει· τοῦτο γὰρ δὴ καὶ προσηγόρευε τὴν διὰ τῆς μουσικῆς ἰατρείαν. ἥπτετο δὲ περὶ τὴν ἐαρινὴν ὥραν τῆς  τοιαύτης μελῳδίας· ἐκάθιζε γὰρ ἐν μέσῳ τινὰ λύρας ἐφαπτόμενον, καὶ κύκλῳ ἐκαθέζοντο οἱ μελῳδεῖν δυνατοί, καὶ οὕτως ἐκείνου κρούοντος συνῇδον παιῶνάς τινας, δι’ ὧν εὐφραίνεσθαι καὶ ἐμμελεῖς καὶ ἔνρυθμοι γίνεσθαι ἐδόκουν. χρῆσθαι δ’ αὐτοὺς καὶ κατὰ τὸν ἄλλον χρόνον τῇ μουσικῇ ἐν ἰατρείας τάξει, καὶ εἶναί τινα μέλη πρὸς τὰ ψυχῆς πεποιημένα πάθη, πρός τε ἀθυμίας καὶ δηγμούς, ἃ δὴ βοηθητικώτατα ἐπινενόητο, καὶ πάλιν αὖ ἕτερα πρός τε τὰς ὀργὰς καὶ πρὸς τοὺς θυμοὺς καὶ πρὸς πᾶσαν παραλλαγὴν τῆς τοιαύτης ψυχῆς, εἶναι δὲ καὶ πρὸς τὰς ἐπιθυμίας ἄλλο γένος μελοποιίας ἐξευρημένον. χρῆσθαι δὲ καὶ ὀρχήσεσιν. ὀργάνῳ δὲ χρῆσθαι λύρᾳ· τοὺς γὰρ αὐλοὺς ὑπε-λάμβανεν ὑβριστικόν τε καὶ πανηγυρικὸν καὶ οὐδαμῶς ἐλευθέριον τὸν ἦχον ἔχειν. χρῆσθαι δὲ καὶ ῾Ομήρου καὶ ῾Ησιόδου λέξεσιν ἐξειλεγμέναις πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν ψυχῆς.

Image result for medieval manuscript music healing
Cat playing a bagpipe in a Book of Hours, Paris, c. 1460

 

 

Let’s Talk About Sweat, Baby

sweating profusely” sudans multum, Fronto

“much sweat was pouring down” πολὺς δ’ ἐξέρρεεν ἱδρὼς, Quintus Smyrnaeus

Aristotle, Problems 2, 866b10 (Problems Concerning Sweat) Selections

“Why does head sweat not stink or at least stink less than that from the body? Is it because the top of the head is well aired?”

Διὰ τί ὁ ἱδρὼς ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς ἢ οὐκ ὄζει ἢ ἧττον | τοῦ ἐκ τοῦ σώματος; ἢ ὅτι εὔπνους ὁ τῆς κεφαλῆς τόπος

“Why does the face sweat most of all?”

Διὰ τί ἱδροῦσι μάλιστα τὰ πρόσωπα;

“Why do our backs sweat more than our fronts?”

Διὰ τί ἱδροῦμεν τὸν νῶτον μᾶλλον ἢ τὰ πρόσθεν;

“Why do we sweat less while we are toiling than when we stop?”

Διὰ τί ἧττον ἱδροῦσιν ἐν αὐτῷ τῷ πονεῖν ἢ ἀνέντες;

Hippocrates, Prorrhetic 1.39 (Full Greek text on the Scaife Viewer)

“To sweat acutely, especially with an unpleasant perspiration over the head, is bad; even more so if it comes with dark urine. Difficult breathing in these patients is bad” 
 
Οἱ ἐφιδρῶντες καὶ μάλιστα κεφαλὴν ἐν ὀξέσιν ὑποδύσφοροι, κακόν, ἄλλως τε καὶ ἐπ᾿ οὔροισι μέλασι, καὶ τὸ θολερὸν πνεῦμα ἐν τούτοισι κακόν.
 
Hippocrates, Coan Prenotions 561 (Full Greek text on the Scaife Viewer)
 
“The best sweat is one that breaks a fever on the necessary day, but one that brings relief is also useful. A cold sweat developing only around the head and neck is not good and also indicates limited time and danger.”
 
Ἱδρὼς ἄριστος μὲν ὁ λύων τὸν πυρετὸν ἐν ἡμέρῃ κρισίμῳ, χρήσιμος δὲ καὶ ὁ κουφίζων· ὁ δὲ ψυχρὸς καὶ μοῦνον περὶ κεφαλὴν καὶ τράχηλον γινόμενος, φλαῦρος, καὶ γὰρ χρόνον καὶ κίνδυνον σημαίνει.
 

Hippocrates: Unmarried Women are Sad Because of Periods

Hippocrates of Cos, On Girls [Peri Parthenôn] 1

“Let’s talk first concerning the disease which is called sacred and paralyzed people and the many anxieties which frighten people seriously enough that they lose their minds and believe that they see evil spirits by night or even at times by die or sometimes on all hours. Many have hanged themselves before because of this kind of vision, more often women than men.

For a woman’s nature is more depressed and sorrowful. And young women, when they are at the age of marriage and without a husband, suffer terribly at the time of their menstruation, which they did not suffer earlier in life. For blood collects later in their uterus so that it may flow out. When, then, the mouth of the exit does not create an opening, the blood pools up more because of food and the body’s growth. When the blood has nowhere to flow, it rises up toward the heart and the diaphragm. When these organs are filled, the heart is desensitized and from this transformation it becomes numb. Madness overtakes women because of this numbness.”

Πρῶτον περὶ τῆς ἱερῆς νούσου καλεομένης, καὶ περὶ τῶν ἀποπληκτικῶν, καὶ περὶ τῶν δειμάτων, ὁκόσα φοβεῦνται ἰσχυρῶς ἄνθρωποι, ὥστε παραφρονέειν καὶ ὁρῆν δοκέειν δαίμονάς τινας ἐφ᾿ ἑωυτῶν δυσμενέας, ὁκότε μὲν νυκτός, ὁκότε δὲ ἡμέρης, ὁκότε δὲ ἀμφοτέρῃσι τῇσιν ὥρῃσιν. ἔπειτα ἀπὸ τῆς τοιαύτης ὄψιος πολλοὶ ἤδη ἀπηγχονίσθησαν, πλέονες δὲ γυναῖκες ἢ ἄνδρες· ἀθυμοτέρη γὰρ καὶ λυπηροτέρη ἡ φύσις ἡ γυναικείη. αἱ δὲ παρθένοι, ὁκόσῃσιν ὥρη γάμου, παρανδρούμεναι, τοῦτο μᾶλλον πάσχουσιν ἅμα τῇ καθόδῳ τῶν ἐπιμηνίων, πρότερον οὐ μάλα ταῦτα κακοπαθέουσαι. ὕστερον γὰρ τὸ αἷμα ξυλλείβεται ἐς τὰς μήτρας, ὡς ἀπορρευσόμενον· ὁκόταν οὖν τὸ στόμα τῆς ἐξόδου μὴ ᾖ ἀνεστομωμένον, τὸ δὲ αἷμα πλέον ἐπιρρέῃ διά τε σιτία καὶ τὴν αὔξησιν τοῦ σώματος, τηνικαῦτα οὐκ ἔχον τὸ αἷμα ἔκρουν ἀναΐσσει ὑπὸ πλήθους ἐς τὴν καρδίην καὶ ἐς τὴν διάφραξιν. ὁκόταν οὖν ταῦτα πληρωθέωσιν, ἐμωρώθη ἡ καρδίη, εἶτ᾿ ἐκ τῆς μωρώσιος νάρκη, εἶτ᾿ ἐκ τῆς νάρκης παράνοια ἔλαβεν.

Hippocrates should have consulted a woman physician like Trotula

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.”

The Original Virgin Suicides

Here’s an anecdote that is chilling and a bit upsetting. CW: it contains misogyny as well as reference to suicide clusters. In general, this reminded me of the suicide clusters in Silicon Valley discussed widely a few years ago. But–and I think this is more important–it also points to groups of suicide as an attempt to wrest agency in response to desperation, a lack of agency, and marginalization.

Aulus Gellius, Varia Historia 15.10

“In his first of the books On the Soul, Plutarch included the following tale when he was commenting on maladies which afflict human minds. He said that there were maiden girls of Milesian families who at a certain time suddenly and without almost any clear reason made a plan to die and that many killed themselves by hanging.

When this became more common in following days and there was no treatment to be found for the spirits of those who were dedicated to dying, The Milesians decreed that all maidens who would die by hanging their bodies would be taken out to burial completely naked except for the rope by which they were hanged. After this was decreed, the maidens did not seek suicide only because they were frightened by the thought of so shameful a funeral.”

Plutarchus in librorum quos περὶ ψυχῆς inscripsit primo cum de morbis dissereret in animos hominum incidentibus, virgines dixit Milesii nominis, fere quot tum in ea civitate erant, repente sine ulla evidenti causa voluntatem cepisse obeundae mortis ac deinde plurimas vitam suspendio amississe. id cum accideret in dies crebrius neque animis earum mori perseverantium medicina adhiberi quiret, decrevisse Milesios ut virgines, quae corporibus suspensis demortuae forent, ut hae omnes nudae cum eodem laqueo quo essent praevinctae efferrentur. post id decretum virgines voluntariam mortem non petisse pudore solo deterritas tam inhonesti funeris.

Suicides of public figures cause disbelief because of our cultural misconceptions about depression and about the importance of material wealth and fame to our well-being. While some clusters of suicide can be understood as a reflex of the “threshold problem”, we fail to see the whole picture if we do not also see that human well-being is connected to a sense of agency and belonging. Galen, in writing about depression, notes that melancholy can make us desire that which we fear.

Galen, De Locis Affectis 8.190-191

“But there are ten thousand other fantasies. The melancholic differ from one another, but even though they all exhibit fear, despair, blaming of life and hatred for people, they do not all want to die. For some, fear of death is the principle source of their depression. Some will seem paradoxical to you because they fear death and desire death at the same time.”

ἄλλα τε μυρία τοιαῦτα φαντασιοῦνται. διαφέρονται δὲ ἀλλήλων οἱ μελαγχολικοὶ, τὸ μὲν φοβεῖσθαι καὶ δυσθυμεῖν καὶ μέμφεσθαι τῇ ζωῇ καὶ μισεῖν τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἅπαντες ἔχοντες, ἀποθανεῖν δ’ ἐπιθυμοῦντες οὐ πάντες, ἀλλ’ ἔστιν ἐνίοις αὐτῶν αὐτὸ δὴ τοῦτο κεφάλαιον τῆς μελαγχολίας, τὸ περὶ τοῦ θανάτου δέος· ἔνιοι δὲ ἀλλόκοτοί σοι δόξουσιν, ἅμα τε καὶ δεδιέναι τὸν θάνατον καὶ θανατᾷν.

In thinking about the impact of agency and belonging on our sense of well-being and relationship to death, I have been significantly influence by this book:

Sheldon Solomon, Jeff Greenberg and Tom Pyszczynski. The Worm at the Core: On the Role of Death in Life. London: Allen Lane, 2015.

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Picture found here

If you or someone you know feel alone, uncertain, depressed or for any reason cannot find enough joy and hope to think life is worth it, please reach out to someone. The suicide prevention hotline has a website, a phone number (1-800-273-8255), and a chat line. And if we can help you find some tether to the continuity of human experience through the Classics or a word, please don’t hesitate to ask.

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.

Image result for medieval manuscript medicine women
Wellcome Library, London, MS 49, Apocalypse

Milk, Wine, and Rambling On

Galen, Hygiene 347k-348K

“I guess I’ve talked about milk and wine for a little longer than is strictly needed. Really, it is better, once someone has said what benefit the elderly get from these drinks, to indicate what has already been taught about the selection of the material and how diluted each of them should be and especially on the differences of each—once we’ve established that the warmer and more urine-producing wines are better for the elderly and that we shouldn’t give milk to everyone, but only those who can digest well and don’t sense any problem with their right hypochondrium.

But thanks to the lack of effort of those who are too lazy to read the books where more is written about the substance of cures we sometimes have to drag out our explanations. So, hopefully someone will pardon my style of teaching, that I am not precise and brief in the approaches I have generally taken.”

καὶ νῦν γέ μοι δοκῶ μακρότερον ἢ δεῖ τοῖς ἐνεστῶσι διεληλυθέναι περί τε γάλακτος καὶ οἴνων. ἄμεινον γὰρ ἦν εἰπόντα τὴν ἐξ αὐτῶν ὠφέλειαν τοῖς γέρουσι γινομένην ἐπὶ τὴν τῆς ὕλης ἐκλογὴν ἀποπέμψαι τὸν ἤδη μεμαθηκότα τάς τε κοινὰς δυνάμεις καθ’ ἑκάτερον αὐτῶν καὶ τὰς ἐν μέρει διαφοράς, ἐπὶ μὲν τῶν οἴνων εἰπόντα τὰς διαφορὰς τοὺς θερμοτέρους τε καὶ οὐρητικωτέρους ἀμείνους εἶναι τοῖς γέρουσι, ἐπὶ δὲ τοῦ γάλακτος, ὡς οὐδὲ πᾶσι δοτέον, ἀλλὰ μόνοις ὅσοι γε πέττουσιν αὐτὸ καλῶς καὶ συμπτώματος οὐδενὸς αἰσθάνονται κατὰ τὸ δεξιὸν ὑποχόνδριον. ἐπεὶ δ’ ἔστιν ὅτε διὰ τὴν πολλῶν ὀλιγωρίαν οὐχ ὑπομενόντων ἀναγινώσκειν τὰ βιβλία, δι’ ὧν ἐπὶ πλέον ὑπὲρ τῆς τῶν βοηθημάτων ὕλης λέλεκται, μηκύνειν ἀναγκαζόμεθα πολλάκις, εἰκότως ἄν τις ἡμῖν καὶ νῦν συγγνοίη τοῦ τρόπου τῆς διδασκαλίας, οὐ κατὰ τὴν ἀκριβῆ βραχυλογίαν ἐπὶ ταῖς καθόλου μεθόδοις προερχομένοις.

If you have children, these are the most precious substances in the world. (From https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Red_Wine_%26_Milk.jpg)

“The One You Love”: The Best Love Poem Ever

Sappho, fr. 16

Some say a force of horsemen, some say infantry
and others say a fleet of ships is the loveliest
thing on the dark earth, but I say it is
the one you love

It is altogether simple to make this understood
since she whose beauty outmatched all,
Helen, left her husband
a most noble man

And went sailing to Troy
Without a thought for her child and dear parents
[Love] made her completely insane
And led her astray

This reminds me of absent Anaktoria

I would rather watch her lovely walk
and see the shining light of her face
than Lydian chariots followed by
infantrymen in arms

Οἰ μὲν ἰππήων στρότον, οἰ δὲ πέσδων,
οἰ δὲ νάων φαῖσ’ ἐπὶ γᾶν μέλαιναν
ἔμμεναι κάλλιστον, ἐγὼ δὲ κῆν’ ὄτ-
τω τις ἔραται

πά]γχυ δ’ εὔμαρες σύνετον πόησαι
πά]ντι τ[οῦ]τ’· ἀ γὰρ πολὺ περσκέθοισα
κά]λλος ἀνθρώπων Ἐλένα [τὸ]ν ἄνδρα
τὸν πανάριστον
/ [κρίννεν ἄρ]ιστον

καλλίποισ’ ἔβας ‘ς Τροίαν πλέοισα
/ ὂσ τὸ πὰν] σέβασ τροΐα[σ ὄ]λεσσ[ε,
κωὐδὲ παῖδος οὐδὲ φίλων τοκήων
πάμπαν ἐμνάσθη, ἀλλὰ παράγαγ’ αὔταν
οὐκ ἀέκοισαν
/ πῆλε φίλει]σαν

Κύπρις· εὔκαμπτον γὰρ ἔφυ βρότων κῆρ
] κούφως τ . . . οη . . . ν
κἄμε νῦν Ἀνακτορίας ὀνέμναι-
σ’ οὐ παρεοίσας

/ Ὠροσ. εὔκ]αμπτον γαρ [ἀεὶ τὸ θῆλυ]
αἴ κέ] τισ κούφωσ τ[ὸ πάρον ν]οήσῃ.
οὐ]δὲ νῦν, Ἀνακτορί[α, τ]ὺ μέμναι
δὴ] παρειοῖσασ,

τᾶς κε βολλοίμαν ἔρατόν τε βᾶμα
κἀμάρυχμα λάμπρον ἴδην προσώπω
ἢ τὰ Λύδων ἄρματα κἀν ὄπλοισι
πεσδομάχεντας.

 

petrarch1

Aelian, Fragment 187/190 (from Stobaeus 3.29.58)

“Solon the Athenian, the son of Eksêkestides, when his nephew sang some song of Sappho at a drinking party, took pleasure in it and asked the young man to teach it to him. When someone asked why he was eager to learn it, he responded: “So, once I learn it, I may die.”

Σόλων ὁ ᾿Αθηναῖος ᾿Εξηκεστίδου παρὰ πότον τοῦ ἀδελφιδοῦ αὐτοῦ μέλος τι Σαπφοῦς ᾄσαντος, ἥσθη τῷ μέλει καὶ προσέταξε τῷ μειρακίῳ διδάξει αὐτόν. ἐρωτήσαντος δέ τινος διὰ ποίαν αἰτίαν τοῦτο σπουδάσειεν, ὃ δὲ ἔφη ‘ἵνα μαθὼν αὐτὸ ἀποθάνω.’

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. They fart in the act.”

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

Image result for medieval manuscript hippocrates
Image found on ResearchGate