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A woman in flux: fluidity in Hippocratic gynaecology

Totelin, Laurence M. V. ORCID: 2020. A woman in flux: fluidity in Hippocratic gynaecology. Thumiger, Chiara, ed. Holism in ancient medicine and its reception, Leiden: Brill, pp. 220-236. (10.1163/9789004443143_011)

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In this chapter, I analyse passages that refer to water features, such as rivers and wells, in the Hippocratic gynaecological treatises. I suggest that the Hippocratic authors drew analogies between the vessels of the female body and riverbeds, thereby pointing to a form of holism in which the female body was a microcosm of the earth, furrowed by watery channels. A young woman’s vessels were narrow and prone to blockages, but they widened and became more easy-flowing as a woman gave birth. The transition from parthenos to gynē, then, was one associated with fluidity. To understand better the context of the Hippocratic texts, I discuss ancient rituals involving water that marked a woman’s transition into adulthood. These rituals often involved the Nymphs who resided in rivers and wells.

Item Type: Book Section
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DE The Mediterranean Region. The Greco-Roman World
Publisher: Brill
ISBN: 9789004443082
Last Modified: 09 Nov 2022 09:55

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