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Je li germofobija postojala u klasičnoj antici?

Je li germofobija postojala u klasičnoj antici?

Ne znam ništa o grčkim navikama čišćenja, ali o Rimu Mary Beard (2015.) kaže da su liječnici znali da bi odlazak u javna kupališta s otvorenom ranom vjerojatno rezultirao gangrenom, pa se znalo da mogu biti leglo bolesti kad ljudi ne bi bili oprezni. Štoviše postojala su javna kupališta, pa su barem neki ljudi imali običaj čistiti se, čak i ako su se te kupke koristile i za poslovanje.

Sada, članak u Wikipediji o mizofobiji, što je više tehnički naziv germofobije, navodi da je izraz skovan 1879. godine za opisivanje ljudi koji su opetovano prali ruke, u slučaju opsesivno-kompulzivnog poremećaja. To je bilo 200 godina nakon što su bakterije prvi put uočene, u drugoj polovici 17. stoljeća, i nešto poslije klasične ere. No, s obzirom na to da su barem u rimsko doba neki ljudi imali običaj kupati se, je li moguće da je u to vrijeme moglo postojati nešto nalik ovoj vrsti poremećaja, čak i ako ne iz razloga bakterija?

(Moj je prvotni cilj bio postaviti ovo pitanje o svakoj civilizaciji prije 1500. godine, ali to bi, naravno, bilo preširoko da bi na njega mogla odgovoriti jedna osoba, i preširoko za ovu web stranicu. Zato ću ograničiti opseg svog pitanja na klasično Antika, pojam koji se, kako sam shvatio, koristi za označavanje grčke i rimske civilizacije. Također, iako su izrazi koji se koriste za opisivanje ovog stanja moderni, ovdje se želi zapitati ima li nešto to bi se moglo opisati kao germofobija postojao u ovom vremenskom okviru.)


Što je germafobija? To je opsesija

"je patološki strah od onečišćenje i klice. "

Tražimo li nešto slično u antici, samo moramo to postaviti na noge: radi se o čistoći ili nečistoći.
Pravila čistoće!
I za Grke i za Rimljane.

Klasični doprinos konceptima zaraze i infekcije stoga se manje odnosio na pojedinca nego na okoliš. Izraz 'infekcija' ima korijensko značenje 'staviti ili uroniti u nešto', što dovodi do inficere i infectio, bojenje ili bojenje. Ovo je dodatni podsjetnik da je "infekcija u osnovi zagađenje". Isto vrijedi ne samo za "zarazu", već i za imenicu "miasma", koja potječe od grčkog glagola miaino, pandan latinskom inficere. Nečistoća je stoga osnovni element u sva tri pojma. Ove se izvedbe vraćaju empirijskom promatranju, ali također evociraju širok spektar vjerskih i moralnih ideja koje se grupiraju oko pojmova zagađenja i tabua. Zagađenje se ne odnosi samo na vrijeme i mjesto, ispravnost i red, materijalno i nematerijalno, već i na osjećaj pojedinca odvojenosti od svoje okoline i na to kako se ta odvojenost treba održavati ili regulirati.
- Alison Bashford & Claire Hooker: "Zaraza. Povijesne i kulturološke studije", Routledge: London, New York, 2001., str. 20.]

Neki ljudi pretjerivanje u tome nisu toliko rijetki u literaturi:

Praznovjeran čovjek
Poznati je lik grčke književnosti, koji je pjesnik Teofrast satirao, nazvan "praznovjeran čovjek":

Opasnost od zagađenja nikada nije daleko od njegovih misli. Prvo ujutro opere ruke (možda iz tri izvora) i poškropi tijelo sladostrasnom vodom; ostatak dana štiti se žvakanjem lovora. Stalno mu se čisti dom ... odbija svaki kontakt s rođenjem, smrću ili grobnicama. Svaki mjesec traži Orphotelestai i opetovano podlijeva abdestu u moru. Sam pogled na nekog jadnog jadnika koji jede obroke Hekate [koji pati od smrti, bolesti, uništenja] zahtijeva složeno ritualno pranje; niti je to dovoljno, ali svećenica se mora pozvati da izvrši pročišćavanje krvi.

I sve to od čovjeka, Teofrasta, koji je i sam bio pitagorejski vegetarijanac koji se u najmanju ruku gadio jedenja mesa (i odjeće za životinje).
Grčka književnost natopljena je pravilima čistoće i pročišćenjima. Takav intenzitet informacija zasigurno čini da izgleda kao da se 'oblak pravila čistoće' spustio na Grčku u četvrtom i petom stoljeću, a kasnija su istraživanja pokazala da su nove riječi i nova hramska oprema doista uvezeni u grčku kulturu prije ovog vremena; ali znamo da je drevna kozmologija pročišćenja već bila dobro uspostavljena u cijeloj Euroaziji, pa je možda bolje vidjeti ne intenziviranje, već fragmentaciju ove tradicije u Grčkoj.
Ovaj hipotetički praznovjeran čovjek zasigurno je bio uhvaćen u orfizam, grčku sektu iz petog stoljeća poznatu po svojim teškim asketskim zahtjevima. Orfejevi sljedbenici formirali su ono što je poznato kao 'mantički' kult, koji potječe od proročkih tradicija vidjelaca i šamana, njihovih lutajućih vidjelaca ili iscjeljujućih svećenika (telestaj) pjevao bi lijepe pjesme i čarolije nad patnikom, propisujući bilje, čari i čisto novi način života kroz čednost, vegetarijanstvo, bijelu odjeću i ekstatično štovanje Dioniz-Bakha. Teofrast je htio implicirati da su pročišćenja praznovjernog čovjeka pretjerana, ili barem krajnje skrupulozna po prosječnim standardima-dovoljna čak i za posvećenog svećenika.
- Virginia Smith: "Clean. A History of Personal Hygiene and Purity", Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2007., str. 85-86.

Moglo bi se reći da je grčka znanstvena medicina sama po sebi bila oblik ove fobije:

Riječ za prljavštinu koja je uzrokovala bolest bila je miasma (od miaino, zagađivati, preko korijena mia- što znači prljanje ili uništenje); a mijazma se mogla stvoriti na bilo kojem mjestu u bilo koje vrijeme, iz bilo kojeg božanskog razloga. Međutim, kada je stigao do zemaljskog svijeta, bio je posebno povezan s prljavim zrakom, vodom i mjestima. Grčka znanstvena teorija bolesti sugerirala je da je zagađenje makrokozmičke bolesti došlo putem određenih "sjemenki bolesti" sličnih miasminima u zraku koje su se spustile iz vanjskog svemira u oblacima zagađenog zraka koji su bili imanentno otrovni i zarazni. Što god je mijazma dotakla u dodiru s mikrokozmosom, uprljalo se, a zatim se stalno širilo kroz zdrav živi materijal 'poput bojenja ili mrljanja tkanine'. Nije napravljena očita razlika između makrokozmičke mijazme i mikrokozmičke zaraze, iako je to bila razlika koja je jako zabrinjavala fizičare od sedamnaestog do ranog dvadesetog stoljeća.

Grci su bili opsjednut s ovakvom čistoćom. No, također su primijetili da u tom pogledu nisu bili jedinstveni, pa čak ni prvi među vršnjacima tog vremena:

Kad dobro proputovani Herodot preuzme ulogu antropologa religije i povuče paralele između Grka i Egipćana, primjećuje da, iako su Grci općenito jako zabrinuti za ritualnu čistoću, Egipćani ih u tome daleko nadmašuju. Za Herodota, Egipćani su najbogobojazniji od svih ljudi, a nacija je opsjednuta čistoćom: Egipćani su, prema njegovim riječima, 'religiozni preko svake mjere'; on katalogizira njihovu praksu čistoće i s divljenjem primjećuje kako su 'njihove vjerske obrede (tailkeiai) nebrojene'.
- Andrej Petrović & Ivana Petrović: "Unutarnja čistoća i zagađenje u grčkoj religiji. Tom I: Rana grčka religija", Oxford University Press: Oxford, New York, 2016., str. 26.

Herodot o Egipćanima u petom stoljeću prije nove ere: „Uvijek nose svježe opranu lanenu odjeću. Oni ovome posebno naglašavaju. I sami su obrezani iz razloga čistoće, preferirajući čistoću privlačnijim izgledom. Svećenici brijeju svoja tijela svaki dan kako bi spriječili uši ili bilo što drugo prljavo. " [Ashenburg]

Grčki izraz za vjersko zagađenje je miasma, obično preveden kao 'mrlja' ili 'prljanje'; osoba pogođena takvim zagađenjem označena je srodnim pridjevom miaros ('umrljan', 'uprljan', 'zagađen'). Imenica miasma nikada se ne koristi za označavanje fizičke prljavštine, već označava ritualnu nečistoću koja može biti opasna i zagađujuća. Miasma se shvaća kao opasna jer kompromitira ljudsku komunikaciju s božanskim i čini rituale neučinkovitima ili, u najgorem slučaju, potpuno svetogrđem. Neke vrste mijazme kontaminiraju se kontaktom. Na primjer, smrt zagađuje cijelu kuću i njezine stanovnike, a pročišćavanje i isključivanje iz svetišta na određeno razdoblje dana potrebno je za sve pogođene. Čak i posjetitelj kuće koji nije član kućanstva može biti zagađen na određeni broj dana. [Petrović, str. 36.]

Fizičko zagađenje tjelesnim tekućinama, spolom ili leševima bilo je dio miazma koje su se proširile zarazom, ali su se mogle prevladati (simboličkim) uklanjanjem onečišćujućih tvari/privremenom apstinencijom.

No, u usporedbi sa stvarnim grčkim navikama, sve kasnije rimske kupališne navike morale su izgledati kao akutno pretjerano pročišćavanje (i neozbiljnost). Iako Gibbon povezuje ovu rimsku sklonost prema toplim i vrućim kupkama s propadanjem Rimskog Carstva, zasigurno nisu smatrali da je to problem:

"Kupke, vino i seks uništavaju naša tijela, ali oni su bit životnih kupki, vina i seksa."
- Epitaf na grobu Tita Klaudija Sekunda, prvo stoljeće

Dok su suvremeni Grci bili nešto više 'spartanski':

"Brzo, sigurno, slatko" bio je moto Asklepijada iz Bitinije, koji je popularizirao grčku medicinu u Rimu u prvom stoljeću prije Krista. i koji je radije kupao svoje pacijente nego ih krvario - otuda i njegov moto. Posebno je bio veliki zagovornik hladnih kupki i bio je poznat kao "Hladni kupač".
oba citata - Katherine Ashenburg: "The Dirt on Clean: An Unsanitized History", Vintage Canada: Toronto, 2008 (e).

To znači da je uvijek vrlo ovisno o vašem gledištu opisati određenu praksu ili 'razinu čistoće' kao podstandardnu ​​ili pretjeranu. Gibbonove presude iz 19. stoljeća o vrlinama hladnog kupanja ili brzog tuširanja kada bi došao suditi o trenutnim američkim navikama s dugim, vrućim tuševima nije teško zamisliti.

Jedan primjer koji govori o važnosti konteksta za suvremene promatrače ponovno se nalazi u dobro poznatoj drami:

Publika zna da je Hipolitova čistoća ugrožena, a na temelju tog saznanja njegova želja za ritualnim pročišćenjem ne može se tumačiti kao opsesivno i pretjerano puritansko, već kao opravdan mehanizam samoobrane.
- Hipolitova čistoća pod trostrukom prijetnjom: Fedra, medicinska sestra i Tezej [Petrović, str 200-, ovdje 222.]

Ako pogledate Bibliju i ne preskočite prvi dio, postoji mnogo, mnogo pravila koja se odnose na čistoću, ritualnu čistoću i tjelesnu čistoću. I, kao i obično, ta su vjerovanja bila prilično rasprostranjena na drevnom istoku:

Ove Elchasite nazvao je 'krstiteljima' kolaboracionist grčkog Kölnskog kodeksa Mani, a također se mogu poistovjetiti s grupom poznatom kasnijim arapskim promatračima kao al-Mughtasila (Čistači). Ove oznake ukazuju na najodređenije prakse sekte, na njihova stalna obredna pranja, koja su se kretala od osobnog kupanja do krštenja za povrće koje su jeli. Bilo je ti nemilosrdni krstitelji koji je Mani služio kao središnji formacijski utjecaj, koji je među njima ostao sljedećih dvadeset godina svog života.
Prema svjedočenju Manijevih pratilaca zabilježenim u grčkom Kölnskom Mani kodeksu, Mani je na kraju prekinuo s Elhazitima oko ritualna praksa, osobito stalno pročišćavanje koje ih je definiralo prema vanjskim osobama. Odgovarajući kritičarima Elchasitea nakon što se odvojio od grupe, Mani je ispričao priču da su vode same ukorile osnivača svoje sekte zbog njegovog ritualnog kupanja. U Maninoj priči, Elchasaijev bazen za kupanje poprimio je oblik čovjeka i rekao: “Nije li dovoljno što me tvoje zvijeri zlostavljaju? Pa ipak [vi] maltretirate [moj dom] i počinite svetogrđe [protiv mojih voda]. " Elchasaijevi pokušaji da pronađe genijalnije mjesto za kupanje dobili su daljnju kritiku: „Mi i te morske vode jedno smo. Stoga ste došli griješiti i zlostavljati nas. " Poput Elchasaija, Mani je tvrdio da je imao vlastite posjete iz vode, među ostalim duhovnim posjetiteljima koji su ga učili osnovnim propisima njegove nove vjere, manihejstva.
- [Cynthia Kosso i Anne Scott: "Priroda i funkcija vode, kupke, kupanje i higijena od antike do renesanse", Brill: Leiden, Boston, 2009., Ch .: Scott John McDonough: "Mi i te vode more su jedno ”: krštenje, kupanje i izgradnja identiteta u kasnoj antičkoj Babiloniji” str 264.]


Suvremena definicija germafobije (mizofobija) previše ovisi o znanju o postojanju klica. Ako pogledamo bit njegova značenja, strah, ponekad opsesivan, od onečišćenja, prljavštine i nečistoće, tada bi se ovaj koncept mogao smatrati vrlo raširenim u antici, uz upozorenje da bi stari i moderni promatrači mogli imati sasvim različite ideje o konkretna značenja koja se primjenjuju na one koji su bili ili se promatraju.


Opsesivno -kompulzivni poremećaji ne postoje u vakuumu - morate ih staviti u njihov kontekst. Mizofobija je stereotipna kao pretjerano pranje ruku danas, ali nije intrinzično o pranju ruku. Dogodilo se da su u suvremenom svijetu čista tekuća voda i sredstva za čišćenje ruku lako dostupni za čišćenje ruku od stvarnih ili zamišljenih zagađivača.

Stoga je pomalo pogrešno nazvati nevolju germafobijom. Zato što ne mora nužno imati veze s klicama. Radije se radi o "zagađivačima" koji mogu biti svaka prljavština ili prljavština. Nije potrebna teorija klica, a simptomi se očituju na više načina nego samo pranje ruku.

Pokazao je sklonost mizofobiji i rezervirao je vlastiti nož i vilicu za stolom. Okrenuo bi slavine za vodu komadom papira i oprao bi ruke desetak puta dnevno.

Bluemel, Charles Sidney. "Uznemireni um. Studija o živčanim i duševnim bolestima." American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 17.5 (1938): 350.

U skladu s tim, mnogi mizofobi izbjegavaju dodirivati ​​slavine nakon pranja ruku, kako bi spriječili "ponovnu kontaminaciju". Nadalje, ako mizofob ima pristup samo mirnom bazenu ponovno korištene vode, njihova želja da opere ruke s njim će se znatno smanjiti. Zapravo, njihovi osjećaji o korištenju ovog bazena mogli bi biti odjek sljedećeg izraza cara Marka Aurelija u javnim kupalištima:

"Što je kupanje kad pomislite na to - ulje, znoj, prljavština, masna voda, sve je odvratno."

Fagan, Garrett G. Javno kupanje u rimskom svijetu. Sveučilište Michigan Press, 2002.

Ljudi općenito pretpostavljaju da rimsko kupanje znači čistoću, ali stvarnost je da drevna higijena ne zadovoljava suvremene standarde. Ono što je Rimljanima čisto ne mora se nužno slagati s našim osjećajima. Stoga popularnost kupki među njegovim suvremenicima ukazuje na Aurelijevo gađenje koje bi moglo biti nagovještaj misofobije.

Tako da, neka vrsta "germafoba" najvjerojatnije je postojala i u antičkom svijetu. Prije doba vode iz slavine i sredstava za dezinfekciju ruku, jednostavno neće nužno odgovarati svim modernim stereotipima povezanim s germafobima.

Naravno, ne možemo daljinski dijagnosticirati mrtve ljude 2000 godina. Štoviše, mnogi ljudi danas razvijaju mehanizme za suočavanje sa svojim prisilama. Nema razloga pretpostaviti da isto ne bi vrijedilo za stare.


Klasična antika

Klasična antika (također klasično doba, klasično razdoblje ili klasično doba) je razdoblje kulturne povijesti između 8. stoljeća prije Krista i 6. stoljeća poslije Krista sa središtem na Sredozemnom moru, [bilješka 1] koje obuhvaća isprepletene civilizacije stare Grčke i starog Rima poznate kao grčko-rimski svijet. To je razdoblje u kojem su i grčko i rimsko društvo cvjetalo i imalo veliki utjecaj u većem dijelu Europe, sjeverne Afrike i zapadne Azije.

Konvencionalno, uzima se da počinje s najranije zabilježenom epskom grčkom poezijom Homera (8.-7. St. Pr. Kr.), A nastavlja se dolaskom kršćanstva (1. st. Poslije Krista) i padom Zapadnog Rimskog Carstva (5.- stoljeća poslije Krista). Završava padom klasične kulture tijekom kasne antike (250–750), razdoblja koje se preklapa s ranim srednjim vijekom (600–1000). Tako širok raspon povijesti i teritorija pokriva mnoge različite kulture i razdoblja. Klasična antika može se također odnositi na idealiziranu viziju među kasnijim ljudima onog što je, prema riječima Edgara Allana Poea, bilo "slava koja je bila Grčka, i veličina koja je bila Rim". [1]

Kultura starih Grka, zajedno s nekim utjecajima s drevnog Bliskog istoka, bila je temelj europske umjetnosti, [2] filozofije, društva i obrazovanja, sve do rimskog carskog razdoblja. Rimljani su očuvali, oponašali i širili ovu kulturu po Europi, sve dok se sami nisu mogli natjecati s njom, a klasični svijet počeo je govoriti latinski kao i grčki. [3] [4] Ova grčko-rimska kulturna zaklada imala je ogroman utjecaj na jezik, politiku, pravo, obrazovne sustave, filozofiju, znanost, ratovanje, poeziju, historiografiju, etiku, retoriku, umjetnost i arhitekturu modernog svijeta. Preživjeli fragmenti klasične kulture doveli su do oživljavanja koje je počelo u 14. stoljeću, a koje je kasnije postalo poznato kao renesansa, a u 18. i 19. stoljeću došlo je do različitih neoklasičnih preporoda.


Sadržaj

U doba klasične antike žene su se bavile liječništvom, ali bile su daleko u manjini i tipično su bile ograničene samo na ginekologiju i porodništvo. Aristotel je imao važan utjecaj na kasnije medicinske pisce u Grčkoj i na kraju u Europi. Slično piscima iz Hipokratov korpus, Aristotel je zaključio da se ženska fiziologija bitno razlikovala od fiziologije muškaraca prvenstveno zbog toga što su žene fizički slabije, pa su stoga i sklonije simptomima uzrokovanim na neki način slabošću, poput teorije humora. Ovo uvjerenje je tvrdilo da i muškarci i žene imaju nekoliko "humora" koji reguliraju njihovo fizičko zdravlje, te da žene imaju "hladniji" humor. [1] The Hipokratov korpus pisci su naveli da su muškarci racionalniji od žena te da ih je ženska fiziologija učinila podložnima problemima koji bi uzrokovali simptome iracionalnosti. [1] Nastavljajući s ovom pretpostavkom da su muškarci bili racionalniji, da su muškarci dominirali u liječničkoj profesiji, zanimanju koje je zahtijevalo racionalna istraživanja i za koje su vjerovali da žene nisu prikladne.

To nije spriječilo žene da postanu liječnice, međutim Agnodice, koja je 300. godine prije Krista napustila Atenu i otišla u Aleksandriju studirati medicinu i primaljstvo u helenističkoj Aleksandriji pod Hijerofilom. Vratila se u Atenu i postala popularni ginekolog, pričalo se da se prerušila u muškarca kako bi prakticirala medicinu na muškarcima. Agnodice je postala toliko popularna među njezinim pacijenticama da su je kolege optužili za zavođenje pacijenata. Na sudu je otkrila svoj spol i bila je oslobođena. [2] Philista je bila popularni profesor medicine koji je držao predavanja iza zastora, kako bi spriječio da njezina ljepota ometa studente. [3] U staroj Grčkoj postojala je i prilika za primalje da steknu daljnju medicinsku izobrazbu, da postanu liječnica-primalja, zvane u helenističko, rimsko i bizantsko doba jatromeja (ιατρομαία). [4] Merit-Ptah prva je žena imenovana u povijesti medicine, a možda je i ona medicine ovjekovječena kao "glavni liječnik". [5]

Liječnice su možda nudile specijalizacije izvan ginekologije i akušerstva, ali nema dovoljno informacija da bi se znalo koliko često. Čini se da su kao opstetričari i ginekolozi bili brojni. Zakonski zakon Justinijana pretpostavljao je da su liječnice prvenstveno opstetričarke. Prvi medicinski tekst za koji je poznato da ga je žena napisala je Metrodora, O ženskim bolestima maternice, rad u 63 poglavlja koji je bio dio niza od najmanje dva djela koje je napisala. Najstarija kopija datira između 2. stoljeća i 4. stoljeća naše ere. [6]

Važno je zapamtiti da tijekom Klasična antika, svatko se mogao obučiti za liječnika u jednoj od brojnih medicinskih škola/bolnica, Asclepeieonu. Obuka se uglavnom odnosila na praktične primjene, kao i na naukovanje kod drugih liječnika. Tijekom helenističkog razdoblja, Aleksandrijska je knjižnica služila i kao medicinska škola, gdje bi se provodila istraživanja i obuka na tijelu oboljelih. Također se čini da bi djeca, muško ili žensko, poznatih liječnika, također slijedila liječničku profesiju, nastavljajući obiteljsku tradiciju. Na primjer, Pantheia, koja je bila supruga liječnika, i sama je to postala, obrazac koji se također vidi u karijeri Aurelije Aleksandrije Zosime i Augustea. Auguste je dobila priznanje za glavnog liječnika svog grada, titulu koju je dobio i njezin suprug. Metilia Donata bila je dovoljno istaknuta da naruči veliku javnu zgradu u Lyonu. Anthiochis iz Tlosa, kći istaknutog diodotovog liječnika, vijeće u Tlosu priznalo je njen rad kao liječnika i postavilo joj kip. Također je bila široko raspravljana stručnjakinja koju citiraju Galen i drugi. Aetius opsežno citira Aspaziju o ginekologiji. [7]

Ovaj grčko-rimski pristup uvelike se razlikuje od drugih drevnih civilizacija, gdje je uloga žena kao medicinskih specijalista u ginekologiji i opstetriciji očito bila neupitna. Medicinske škole pri hramovima u starom Egiptu bile su brojne, uključujući i poznate medicinske škole za žene u Heliopolisu i Saisu, gdje se vjeruje da su žene bile i profesorice. [3]

Hipokrat je prvi upotrijebio izraz rak za opisivanje tvrdih lezija koje se povremeno nalaze u ženskim dojkama. Rezonirao je da su lezije uzrokovane problemima s maternicom žene i menstrualnim ciklusom. Vjerovalo se da su simptomi ovih lezija bol, gubitak apetita, gorak okus i zbunjenost. [8] Hipokrat je pozvao na operaciju kao na liječenje raka dojke jer ju je smatrao štetnom te je otkrio da je prognoza puno bolja za žene kojima nisu uklonjene ili liječene lezije. U svom kasnijem radu Ženske bolesti, Hipokrat proširuje popis simptoma raka u kasnoj fazi uključujući deliriju, dehidraciju, suhe bradavice, gubitak osjeta mirisa i plitko disanje. [9]

Galen je smatrao da je rak dojke posljedica viška crne žuči u tijelu, pozivajući se na Hipokratovu teoriju humoralne teorije bolesti. Pretpostavio je da je menstruacija kod žena metoda uklanjanja crne žuči iz tijela. Ta se ideja uklapala u njegovo zapažanje da je češće da žene u menopauzi i predmenopauzi razviju lezije dojke. Za razliku od Hipokrata, Galen je poticao kirurško uklanjanje tumora, pa čak i propisao posebne dijete i čišćenje kako bi se tijelo oslobodilo viška crne žuči. [9]

Aristotel je formulirao prve testove na neplodnost stavljajući mirisnu tkaninu u žensku rodnicu na duže vrijeme i utvrđujući je li aroma izašla iz usta ili su oči ili slina obojene. Ovaj je test utvrdio jesu li propusnice sjemena žene otvorene ili zatvorene. [10] Hipokrat je napravio sličan test promatrajući hoće li miris proći kroz žensko tijelo iz njezinih usta kad se miris proizvede između njezinih nogu dok je bila zamotana u deku. Hipokrat je dodatno testirao neplodnost stavljanjem crvenog kamena u oči žene i utvrđivanjem je li prodro. [10]

Tijekom antike nije postojalo zanimanje jednako onom naše današnje medicinske sestre. Nijedan drevni medicinski izvor ne raspravlja o bilo kakvoj vrsti obučenog medicinskog osoblja koje pomaže liječnicima. Međutim, mnogi tekstovi spominju upotrebu robova ili članova liječničke obitelji kao pomoćnike. [11] Najbliža sličnost medicinske sestre tijekom antike bila je primalja. Primalja je procvjetala u drevnim civilizacijama, uključujući Egipat, Bizant, Mezopotamiju i mediteranska carstva Grčke i Rima.

U grčko-rimskom svijetu bilo je liječnika koji su povoljno pisali o primaljstvu. Herophilus je napisao priručnik za primalje, koji je unaprijedio njihov status. Uslijedio je rad grčkog Sorana iz Efeza (98-138. N. E.), Koji je uveliko preveden na latinski, [12] i Galena. Soranus je bio važan ginekolog i zaslužan je za četiri knjige koje opisuju žensku anatomiju. Također je raspravljao o metodama za rješavanje teških poroda, poput upotrebe klešta. [13] On navodi kako bi žena mogla biti primalja koja mora ispunjavati uvjete

Odgovarajuća osoba ... mora biti pismena da bi mogla shvatiti umjetnost i kroz teoriju. Mora imati pameti u sebi kako bi mogla lako pratiti što se govori i što se događa. Mora imati dobro pamćenje kako bi zadržala prenesene upute (jer znanje proizlazi iz sjećanja na ono što je shvaćeno). Mora voljeti posao, očuvati ga kroz sve peripetije (ženi koja želi steći tako veliko znanje potrebno je muško strpljenje).

Najkvalificiranija primalja obučavala bi se za sve grane terapije. Morala bi propisati higijenske propise za svoje pacijente, promatrati opće i pojedinačne značajke slučaja, davati savjete podsjećajući se na prethodno znanje koje bi medicinske odluke djelovale u svakom slučaju i biti umirujuća za njene pacijente. Nije potrebno da je rodila dijete da bi rodila dijete druge žene, ali dobro je ako je rodila kako bi povećala suosjećanje s majkom.

Da bi stekla dobre primaljske navike, bit će dobro disciplinirana i uvijek trijezna, mirne naravi dijeleći mnoge životne tajne, ne smije biti pohlepna za novcem, ne smije biti praznovjerna da ne zanemari spasonosne mjere, držeći ruke mekim držeći se podalje od vune -radi jer bi joj to moglo otvrdnuti ruke i koristiti masti za stjecanje mekoće. I ona mora biti ugledna, ukućani će joj morati vjerovati u svom kućanstvu, možda neće biti ometeni u obavljanju njezina posla. Dugi i tanki prsti s kratkim noktima neophodni su za dodirivanje duboko upala bez nanošenja prevelike boli. Babice koje steknu sve to bit će najbolje primalje. [14]

Ovo detaljno uputstvo o primaljama poslužilo je kao svojevrsni udžbenik i očituje uglednu ulogu koju su primalje imale u društvu.

Žene su u antici prakticirale kontrolu rađanja uglavnom kroz poznavanje biljaka i bilja. Svoje znanje prenijeli su stočari koji su promatrali sterilnost svoje stoke kada su bili izloženi određenim biljkama. Znanje o kontroli rađanja prenosilo se i usmeno, uglavnom od poznatih primalja. Babice su znale kako prepoznati potrebne biljke, kako ih upravljati, i što je najvažnije, kada primijeniti ih u odnosu na zadnju menstruaciju ili koitus. [15] Vrlo popularna biljka koju su Grci koristili za kontrolu rađanja bio je Silphium. To je divovska biljka nalik komoraču koja je bila ispunjena oštrim sokom i nudila bogat okus. Biljka se toliko koristila da se pojavila na cirenskom novčiću kad je žena jednom rukom dotaknula biljku, a drugom pokazala na genitalije. [15] Potražnja za biljkom bila je tolika da je do četvrtog stoljeća izumrla. Vjeruje se da je oblik srca nastao iz sjemena ove biljke jer su istog oblika i biljka je bila povezana s ljubavlju, romantikom i seksualnošću. [16]

Iako je silfij bio najpopularniji, koristilo se mnogo drugih biljaka i bilja. Sjemenke čipke kraljice Ane (divlja mrkva) rezane su ili žvakane kako bi se oslobodili sastojci koji su inhibirali rast fetusa i jajnika. Ovo se sjeme još uvijek često koristi u Indiji. [15] Još jedna korištena biljka je pennyroyal, pobačajna biljka. [17] Iako otrovan, pennyroyal se konzumirao u malim dozama u čaju jer je sadržavao abortivnu tvar pulegon. [18] Medicinski dokument koji datira iz 1500. godine prije Krista u Egiptu sadrži popis tvari koje se koriste kao kontrola rađanja. Jedna tvar uključivala je izradu paste od bagremove gume, datulja, vlakana, meda i drugih neidentificiranih biljaka za stvaranje svojevrsnog spermicida. [15] Rani liječnici Galen i Dioscorides vjerovali su da će žene konzumirati i vrbove zrnca kako bi spriječile trudnoću. [18]

Soranus iz Efeza zalagao se za nanošenje masti od starog maslinovog ulja, meda, cedrove smole i bijelog olova na vrat maternice kako bi se blokirao otvor prema maternici. Međutim, Soranus je vjerovao da je kontrola rađanja najučinkovitija kada se oralni kontraceptivi kombiniraju s određenim postupcima. Soranus je preporučio ženama da izbjegavaju snošaj tijekom plodnog razdoblja u ciklusu, kao i da izbjegavaju duboku penetraciju. [18] Nakon spolnog odnosa žene su bile pozvane da čučnu, kihnu i očiste rodnicu prije nego popiju nešto hladno. Ako te kombinirane prakse nisu uspjele u sprječavanju trudnoće, recepti koji su uključivali male količine cirenskog soka, razrijeđenog vina, leukoiona i bijelog papra bili su propisani za izazivanje pobačaja. [18]

Pobačaji su bili rijetki, ali u rijetkim slučajevima ih je izvodila sama majka. Rezultati i za majku i za dijete često su bili fatalni jer je većina pobačaja izvršena ubacivanjem bodeža u žensku rodnicu. [15] Zbog ovog postupka bilo je uobičajeno nositi bebu do kraja porođaja prije izvođenja pobačaja. Prema Hipokratovu korpusu, postojale su oralne alternative koje su se koristile za izazivanje pobačaja, poput čednih, drvenih, bakrenih i vrsta Ferula. [16] Platon je istraživao kontrolu koju su primalje možda imale tijekom ovog procesa:

Nadalje, primalje su pomoću droga [149d] i čarolija sposobne probuditi muke trudova i, ako to žele, ublažiti ih te uzrokovati trpljenje onih koji teško podnose i uzrokuju pobačaje ako ih smatraju poželjnima.

Mnogo je teorija korišteno za utvrđivanje je li žena bila trudna tijekom antike. Popularna metoda uključivala je pregled krvnih žila njezinih dojki. Druga metoda uključivala je sjedenje žene na podu prekrivenom pivom i žgancem te korištenje jednadžbe proporcionalnosti prema broju povraćanja. Druga metoda uključivala je umetanje luka u žensku rodnicu i utvrđivanje može li se osjetiti miris iz njezinog daha. [15] Iako postoji malo dokaza o tome jesu li ili nisu neke od ovih metoda potvrđene medicinske procedure ili su samo folklor.

Bolnice nisu postojale tijekom antike pa se porođaj odvijao u domu buduće majke s babicom i ostalim pomoćnicima primalje. Religija je imala veliku ulogu tijekom poroda. Žene su pozvale Artemidu, božicu sa sposobnošću da u svijet donese novi život, kao i sa sposobnošću da ga oduzme. Iako je i sama ostala djevica, pričalo se da je svjedočila boli svoje majke tijekom rođenja brata, Apolona, ​​te je odmah preuzela mjesto primalje. If a woman died during childbirth, her clothes were taken to the temple of Artemis due to the fact the woman's death was attributed to her. [19] If the birth was successful, the mother would make an offering of thanks by sacrificing some of her clothes to the goddess as well. [20]

Herbs and other plants were used heavily in the delivery process, a practice also linked to religious belief. For example, a drink sprinkled with powdered sow’s dung was given to relieve labor pain, and fumigation with the fat from a hyena was thought to produce immediate delivery. [21] Most of these practices had little to no medical efficacy, but they did probably provide some placebo effect. Despite the attempt to use science in advancing medical knowledge, the experimentation and teachings of the Hippocratic Corpus were not necessarily more effective than the traditional customs of midwifery. For example, the Hippocratic writers believed that the womb could move out of place and cause health problems, and the prescribed treatment was to coax the displaced womb back into place using sweet-smelling herbs. [22]

Soranus described three main stages of pregnancy: conception, which regarded keeping the male seed within the womb pica, which occurred 40 days into pregnancy and included symptoms of nausea and cravings for extraordinary foods. During this phase women were also instructed to exercise and sleep more to build up strength as preparation for the labor process. The final stage of pregnancy was described as the labor and the process of delivery. In preparation for labor, the woman was advised to bathe in wine and sweet-water baths to calm her mind before delivery. Her belly was then rubbed with oils to decrease the appearance of stretch marks, and her genitals were anointed with herbs and injected with softeners such as goose fat. [21]

The role of the midwife was very important during the process of childbirth and Soranus described her role in great detail. For example, the midwife was to have certain tools to ensure a safe delivery, including: clean olive oil, sea sponges, pieces of wool bandages to cradle the infant, a pillow, strong smelling herbs in case of fainting, and a birthing stool. [21] A birthing stool is a chair from which the seat has been removed.

The midwife would ready her supplies as labor began. During the labor process, the mother would lie on her back on a hard, low bed with support under her hips. Her thighs were parted with her feet drawn up. Gentle massage was implemented to ease labor pains as cloths soaked in warm olive oil were laid over her stomach and genital area. Against the woman's sides were placed hot compresses in the form of warm oil-filled bladders. [21]

During the actual birth, the mother would be moved to the birthing stool, where she was seated or would squat on two large bricks with a midwife in front of her and female aides standing at her sides. In a normal headfirst delivery, the cervical opening was stretched slightly, and the rest of the body was pulled out. Soranus instructed the midwife to wrap her hands in pieces of cloth or thin papyrus so that the slippery newborn did not slide out of her grasp. [21]

A widely cited myth claims that the word “caesarian” possibly derives from the ancient Roman ruler Julius Caesar, because it was believed that Caesar was delivered through this procedure. [23] The oldest reference to this myth is a passage from the Suda, a 10th-century Byzantine encyclopedia. The myth is a misinterpretation of a passage from Pliny the Elder's Natural History, which mentions a "Caesar" (one of the ancestors of Julius Caesar) being cut from his mother's womb. [24] This practice is probably much older than Julius Caesar, and "C-sections", as performed by the Romans, were done to rescue the baby from a dying or already dead mother, and were performed post-mortem. [25] The fact that Julius Caesar's mother Aurelia Cotta lived for decades after Caesar's birth makes this etymology highly unlikely. [26] Pliny mentions another more widely accepted possibility for the etymology of the word “caesarian”, claiming that it derives from the Latin word caedere, meaning “to cut”. [23]

Evidence suggests that Jews in ancient Rome successfully practiced C-sections on living mothers who were not in danger of dying. [27] Evidence of these procedures is found in several collections of ancient Roman rabbis, the most famous of which is called the Mishnah. [27] Greeks and Egyptians did not perform C-sections, either post-mortem or on living mothers. However, Greeks would have had at least some knowledge of the Caesarian operation and the procedure involved. The Greek god Aesclepius was fabled to have been extracted from his mother's womb through this procedure. [23]

Other than the evidence of Jews practicing C-sections in antiquity (very little in ancient Rome, even less in ancient Greece), not much more evidence exists regarding Caesarian-operation birth. One reason could have been that C-sections were not performed very often because of medical complications or superstitions surrounding C-sections. In early Christian Rome, C-sections were almost non-existent. [27] Loss of skill is a possibility for the lack of C-sections. Infant mortality rates were high in antiquity, so C-sections certainly could have been useful. However, early Christian doctors could have disregarded C-sections as a socially acceptable operation because of religious beliefs. Disease, a perceived need for secrecy, and social discouragement could have also been factors that lead to the decline in C-sections among early Christians in Rome. Almost no evidence exists for C-sections in the Christian world until the 10th century. [25]

The lack of education for women and the social norm that women remained in the private sphere of life (as opposed to public) is theorized to also have contributed to a shortage of C-sections. [25] Midwives were the primary persons involved in the childbirth process. They did not record their medical practices in writing like Soranus or Galen. Thus, C-sections could have potentially occurred on a fairly regular basis, and accounts were simply not recorded.

Mortality was quite high in antiquity due to a few factors: a lack of sanitation and hygienic awareness, no understanding of micro-organisms, and a dearth of effective drugs. In the context of childbirth, however, maternal and infant mortality were exponentially raised compared to modern standards. This resulted from the toll childbirth took on women, and the increased risk of infection following labor.

Maternal mortality figures are available only through comparison. Maternal mortality is thought to be comparable with figures for similar, but much later, societies with more surviving records, such as eighteenth-century rural England, where maternal mortality averaged 25 per 1000 births. [28]

The question of infant mortality in antiquity is complicated by infanticide and exposure, neither of which reflect on medical ability during the period. The former does this through intentional death of the child, and the latter through abandonment, and possible death. These reflect instead on social conditions and norms. While valuable, this is not the information sought, and scholars having painstakingly attempted to eliminate the 'noise' from their inquiries. [29]

Much like maternal mortality, it is difficult to construct actual figures of the infant mortality rate in antiquity, but comparisons have been made between ancient societies and modern non-industrialized societies. The figures suggest that they are comparable with those of modern industrialized societies to put them in perspective. While infant mortality is less than 10 per 1000 in modern industrialized societies, non-industrialized societies display rates from 50 to 200+ per 1000. Scholarship using model life tables and assuming life expectancy at birth of 25 years produces the figure of 300 per 1000 for Roman society. [28]


UFOs Spotted by Ancient Romans

For all that is made of evidence of unidentified flying objects in Egyptian hieroglyphics (which are easily debunked), it was the Romans who really accumulated a number of reported sightings. These sightings were made by such reputable historians as Pliny the Elder, Livy, and Plutarch. They are widely regarded as accurate (as far as the witnesses understood) because of the rigorous procedures Roman authorities demanded before any event could be recorded in the official annals. That being said, the incidences could be talking about meteorites or comets, which to ancient eyes would have seemed otherworldly. A sample of ancient Roman “UFO” sightings includes:

In 218 BC, “A spectacle of ships ( navium) gleamed in the sky.”
In 217 BC, “at Arpi, round shields ( parmas) were seen in the sky.”
In 212 BC, “at Reate a huge stone ( saxum) was seen flying about”
In 173 BC, “at Lanuvium a spectacle of a great fleet was said to have been seen in the sky.”
In 154 BC, “at Compsa weapons ( arma) appeared flying in the sky”
In 104 BC, “the people of Ameria and Tuder observed weapons in the sky rushing together from east and west, those from the west being routed.”
In 100 BC, probably at Rome, “a round shield ( clipeus), burning and emitting sparks, ran across the sky from west to east, at sunset.”
In 43 BC, at Rome, “a spectacle of defensive and offensive weapons ( armorum telorumque species) was seen to rise from the earth to the sky with a clashing noise.”

Renaissance illustration of a UFO sighting in Rome detailed in a book by Roman historian Julio Obsequens. ( Crystalinks)


Juries in the Popular Courts

Citizens above the age of thirty without a criminal record were eligible to serve as dikastai. Scholars disagree as to whether the dikastai should be called jurors or judges, since their function was essentially both roles. For purposes of simplicity, the term “jurors” is used here. Six thousand such citizens were selected by lot each year.[18] Jurors received a small fee, three obols, for each day spent hearing cases. This was less than a man could earn for a day’s work, so many juries were composed of men too old to work, as described in Aristophanes’ comedy, Wasps.[19] Jurors were not assigned days to work, but simply appeared when they were willing to serve. It has been estimated each court day required between fifteen hundred to two thousand jurors. On each trial day, juries were selected by lot, and the courts where they were assigned were also selected by lot. Juries in private cases could number between two and four hundred, while public cases could have between five hundred to one thousand jurors.[20]


Imitation, Transformation and Transgression: Cross-dressing in Ancient Mythology and Religions

Crossdressing is recorded around the world from the ancient past up to the present. In the ancient world, cross-dressing often mirrored gender-crossing actions of deities. In this context, it was tolerated, even supported, as an aspect of religious devotion. Also in this context, the transformation of gender is often associated with the process of coming closer to divinity by breaking down the categories of ordinary human experience. The manipulation of dress, therefore, is the most visible and convenient way for human beings to do what divine beings accomplish by other means, including crossing gender.

The Sumerian deity Inanna, identified with the Akkadian Ishtar, is believed capable of either gender presentation to bridge heaven and earth as well as gender-altering power.

Molded naked figure holding breasts. Between 1300 and 1100 BC. (CC BY-SA 2.0 fr )

Her cults included the kurĝara, whose dress incorporated mixed gender elements in their public processionals. Atum, of ancient Egypt, could be depicted androgynously, as said in a coffin text which says “I am the great He-She”. But perhaps the best known example of a divine gender-bender was Dionysus. Greek literature scholar Albert Henrichs called Dionysus “the most versatile and elusive of all Greek Gods,” as he was perceived as both man and animal, male and effeminate, young and old.

As there are many legends about Dionysus, there are varied depictions of Dionysus ranging from bearded Dionysus to more effeminate versions. Archaic vases show him in a woman’s tunic, saffron veil, and helmet. Dionysian festivals frequently featured role reversals such as cross-dressing. In the festival of Oschophoria, for example, young, wealthy noblemen dressed as women and led a sacred procession from the Temple of Dionysius to that of Athena.

Dionysus, Silenus (and Maenad?). Red-figure krater. (Ad Meskens/ CC BY-SA 3.0 )

Deities often take disguises. Frequently the disguise involves appearing as a gender different from the one typically associated with that deity. Athena, for example, in Homer’s Odiseja disguises herself as Mentor, the male friend of Odysseus. Zeus disguised himself to appear like Artemis. His aim was one of those familiar to gender-crossings for thousands of years to come, which is to gain an access he would have otherwise lacked. In this case, it was access to the nymph Callisto.

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Homosexuality in the Ancient World

The modern conception of sexuality relies on a strict categorisation of sexual appetites and personal desires – heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, etc. In the ancient world, however, these words did not exist and the concepts they represent were not necessarily analogous to our modern understanding of sexuality.

Attitudes towards homosexuality in recent history have coloured the perspective through which we view the nature of sexuality in the ancient world. Early historians, archaeologists and antiquarians viewed notions of alternate sexual identity through the lens of their own social mores, and their discussion of these sexual identities was often stilted and couched in euphemism (when it wasn’t downright ignored).

Modern scholarship has done a great deal to explore the history of sexual identities in ancient cultures and, though progress is slow, there is now a wider consensus on the existence of alternate sexual practices in the ancient world. Despite this, the application of modern labels to sexual identities in antiquity still provides an inadequate exploration of the lived sexual identities of ancient peoples.

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece has a reputation in modern culture as a society in which homosexuality was accepted – even encouraged. Realistically, however, this is an oversimplification of a complex matter centring on gender, identity and social structure. Ancient Greece has served as an idealised utopia for alternative sexual identities, with Oscar Wilde famously referencing, in his trial in 1895, affection between two men as the “very basis” of the philosophy of Plato. Similarly, the attraction of the Greek isle of Lesbos – home of Sappho, the “tenth muse” and famous poet and writer – to lesbian women has taken on an almost mythological light. But to what extent was homosexuality truly accepted in ancient Greece?

Ancient Greek society was not an equal one. Citizenship was an obstacle to freedom, and those who were not counted as citizens – for example, in classical Athens, women, children and slaves – did not have the same rights or social esteem extended to the citizenry. Even between male citizens same-sex courting was couched in the terminology of pederasty, with an older male – the erastes – taking the role of a teacher, and a younger male, usually in his teens – the eromenos – taking the role of a student. Ignoring the necessary power imbalance that this imposed upon the relationship, the eromenos was often idealised as an embodiment of the virility, impressionability, naivety and beauty of youth. Pederasty had its own complex social-sexual etiquette and does not reflect the modern understanding of homosexual relationships as being functionally similar to heterosexual relationships.

The relationship of Plato with same-sex desire is a complex one. In his Symposium, the speaker Aristophanes discusses same-sex relationships in a way that closely resembles a more modern understanding – with the two participants treated as equals whose relationship completes the other. In his Laws, however, Plato dismisses same-sex relationships as being unnatural and unsuited to his vision of utopian society. This contradictory view of homosexual relations is characteristic of our understanding of alternate sexual identities in ancient Greece – same-sex relationships did occur, and in some ways may have been accepted and even celebrated, but they were not the ideal partnership and the way that courtship occurred is fundamentally unrecognisable to our modern understanding of same-sex relationships.

Stari Rim

Though Rome has a rich history of homoerotic art and literature, their conception of same-sex relationships between men hinges around a traditional viewpoint of masculinity and femininity. Male same-sex relationships were generally accepted amongst the citizenry of Rome, but only as long as the citizen was in the dominant (or penetrative) role. The men who took on the “feminine” or submissive role were generally slaves, prostitutes or entertainers, men with lower social status known as infamia – technically free men, but not afforded the rights and protections of the citizenry. For a free man to allow himself to be penetrated threatened his sexual integrity and invited challenges to his virility and masculinity.

Female same-sex relationships are generally less well-attested in Roman literature during the Republic and Principate, although whether this reflects an issue of decorum – a refusal to mention these relationships as they were viewed as improper in some way – is debateable. Certainly, the attitude of prominent Roman poet Ovid hints at this, with his claim that female same-sex relations were “a desire known to no one…no female is seized by desire for a female”. In his Metamophoses, Ovid tells the tale of a pregnant woman named Telethusa, whose husband claims that he will kill their unborn child if she is female. She attempts to conceal the sex of her daughter when she is born, giving her the ambiguous name Iphis, and she is married to a golden-haired maiden named Ianthe. Though initially the relationship between the two is described romantically – “Love came to both of them together / in simple innocence, and filled their hearts / with equal longing”. The tale ends with Iphis being so horrified that the goddess Isis intervenes and transforms her daughter into a man – “Iphis: rejoice, with confidence, not fear! You, who were lately a girl, are now a boy!” This tale betrays not only Roman attitudes towards the clear division of gender roles and a lack of ambiguity in gender identity, but also highlights the valuation of female same-sex relationships as lesser or improper compared to heterosexual relationships.

Drevni Egipt

Attitudes towards same-sex relationships in ancient Egypt are hotly debated due to a lack of surviving literary evidence. In Talmudic literature, the ancient Egyptians are painted as a sexually promiscuous and “debauched” people, with Maimonides referring to lesbianism as “the acts of Egypt”. In truth, however, there is little evidence that such sexual freedoms existed in the ancient past.

In the New Kingdom tale of the Contendings of Horus and Seth, Seth assaults Horus in an attempt to dominate him and prove that Horus is unfit for kingship before the Ennead of Egyptian gods. Horus, however, catches Seth’s semen in his hands and tricks Seth into consuming his own semen. When this is revealed before the Ennead, Seth flees in embarrassment and is seen as unfit for kingship, giving some hint at possible Egyptian attitudes towards male same-sex relationships.

Perhaps the most famous case study regarding Egyptian homosexuality is the tomb of Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, two Overseers of Manicurists in the Palace of King Nyuserre. The two men were buried together in a joint tomb at Saqqara, and have been considered by some scholars to be the first recorded same-sex couple in history. A great deal of this argument is based on the interpretation of tomb decoration showing the two men standing nose-to-nose and embracing, the most intimate pose allowed by the decorum of Egyptian art. There are a number of flaws in this theory – most obviously, the families of the two men are depicted in the decoration of their tomb, showing that both men had wives and children. Is it possible that the two men were engaged in a same-sex relationship? Was this permitted, allowed, even encouraged, by their families? Were they engaged in a polyamorous same-sex and heterosexual relationship? The dearth of solid evidence provides space for a great deal of supposition, but unfortunately such supposition tells us little of use about the practicalities of ancient Egyptian engagement and understanding of same-sex relationships and alternative sexual desires.

Projecting onto the Past?

The nature of academia is to not only strive for new discoveries, but also re-examine past interpretations of evidence to divorce oneself from the attitudes and lenses that coloured scholarly analysis in the past. It is crucially important to identity the biases and prejudices that existed in the past in order to come to a greater understanding of the truths of the past. Still, it is equally important to note that our own understanding is tinged by the attitudes of modernity, and our own conclusions will necessarily require re-examination by scholars in the future.

In truth, the projection of utopian ideals of sexual acceptance – particularly in the case of same-sex relationships – onto ancient cultures does not truly capture the complexity and social nuance that surrounded the complex issues of sexuality and desire in the past, and continues to cause controversy in the modern day. The application of modern labels onto sexual attitudes in the past – labels still hotly contested by scholars today – creates the issue of forcing a modern understanding of sexuality onto people who did not necessarily conceptualise sexual identity in the same way we do.

Furthermore, it is challenging to answer questions such as “What were ancient Roman attitudes to homosexuality?” or “How did the ancient Egyptians conceptualise same-sex relationships?” as these questions inherently assume a continuity of culture through vast chronological spaces. When discussing ancient cultures, it is important to appreciate the length of time and space through which they existed, and summarising socio-cultural attitudes so generally can obscure the fluid nature of human society. Attitudes towards homosexuality in, for example, the UK, have changed a great deal in just the last few decades – how much might attitudes have changed in the span of, for example, thousands of years of Egyptian culture?

Nonetheless, it is crucially important to continue re-examining the work of previous scholars and to try to understand these attitudes in the ancient world, not just to combat misinformation but also to come to a closer understanding of this fundamental aspect of human identity. The truth likely exists amongst layers of complexity between dated and conservative interpretations of ancient sexuality, and amongst modern utopian reinterpretations – as in modernity, attitudes towards sexuality in the ancient world were likely various and multifaceted in a way that archaeological and textual evidence struggles to communicate.


Classical Philosophy

Classical philosophy studies the fundamental problems concerning human existence through the eyes of our intellectual ancestors. Many thinkers from Classical times were pioneers of our modern philosophical and scientific ideas. The earliest beginnings of philosophy are traced back to the sixth century B.C.E., when the first scientists of Western history, the Pre-Socratics – among them Thales, Heraclitus and Parmenides – advanced revolutionary theories concerning the natural world, human knowledge and humans’ relationship with the gods. Some centuries later, Socrates ignited an intellectual revolution that would challenge traditional notions of morality and value forever. Plato, who had studied under Socrates, and Plato’s own student Aristotle, expanded the discipline of philosophy and forked out the path of Western intellectual thought with their discussions of logic, ethics, poetry, myth, politics, physics, and metaphysics. Their work was continued, systematized and amplified by Stoic, Epicurean, and Skeptical thinkers. It had an important impact on prominent figures of Late Antiquity such as Marcus Aurelius, Plotinus, Porphyry, and greatly influenced the early Church Fathers, most notably St. Augustine. Studying the Classics will give students with an interest in ancient philosophy a particularly thorough grasp of the broader linguistic, literary, historical, and cultural background of philosophical issues and problems.

History of Science

The History of Science is an academic discipline of great scope, covering subjects such as technology, mathematics, medicine, and astronomy. Studying these disciplines through a Classical lens shows how closely the sciences are related to the humanities, and how all of our various areas of specialization fit together into a single investigation of the world and our experiences in it. Students will find answers to important questions, such as the early origins of the different scientific disciplines and their impact on culture and society, and they will also find important questions like what does it mean to exist, what are the fundamental building blocks of the world, and what does it mean to lead a good life.

The ancient Greeks were the first mathematicians and scientists of the West. Thinkers such as Thales, Anaximander, Pythagoras and Empedocles attempted to make sense of the world by studying the evidence they found in it. Anaximander proposed that the earth was a solitary body, floating free and unsupported in the universe, and produced one of the first maps of the world. Empedocles was among the first to believe that the world consisted of diverse material elements acted upon by forces of attraction and repulsion. The atomic theory of matter begins with the Greeks. Euclid remains one of the most influential mathematicians of all time. His contemporary Archimedes was a famous inventor and is also credited with discovering a geometrical technique which anticipated calculus and the fact that the surface and volume of a sphere is 2/3 that of its circumscribing cylinder. Through early astronomy, the Greeks developed the idea of mathematized science. In the field of medicine, they began with case histories and folk remedies, and ended up with an understanding of the nerves, the ability to patch up wounded gladiators, and even the ability to remove cataracts with eye surgery. They invented the first steam engine, vending machine, automatic doors, and more. And they sustained glorious cities with over a million inhabitants without using electricity, fossil fuels, gunpowder or nuclear fission as sources of energy.

The Renaissance was an attempt to give a ‘new birth’ to the classical world following lapses in the Medieval period, and the modern drive for progress has often been an effort to match or surpass the achievements of ancient Greece and Rome. By studying the History of Science in the Classical world, we come to understand the various disciplines through their historical and cultural contexts, and come to see how our fragmented scientific investigations form part of an integrated whole.


Civil Service Examination System - Ke Ju

The civil service examination system for selecting government officials was established and came into force during the Sui dynasty (581-618). It not only served as an education system, but as the standard of selection for talented people across the nation.

The system comprised an examination convened by local governments, plus the final imperial examination (palace examination) held by emperors. Scholars passing the county-level examination were called Xiucai, and the first-ranked Xiucai received the title of Anshou. Scholars passing the provincial-level examination were called Juren, and the first- and second-ranked Juren received the titles of Jieyuan and Huiyuan respectively. The first-ranked scholar in the palace examination received the title of Zhuangyuan, the second Bangyan and the third Tanhua. All scholars who passed the examination were conferred different official positions according to their results.

The system was improved during the Tang dynasty (618-907). Some scholars from poor and humble families held office at court, greatly easing the class discrepancies in society. During the Tang dynasty (618-907), the national examination system played a substantial role in training qualified officials and promoting cultural prosperity, and it was adopted as a legacy by subsequent feudal rulers.

During the Song dynasty (960-1279), it was a national policy to emphasize literature and restrict military force. The Song emperors inherited the national examination system and ordered the establishment of many famous academies throughout the kingdom, such as Bailudong, Yuelu, Yingtianfu, and Songyang (see below). These academies perfectly combined educational activity and academic research, and led to the publication of many famous books, including Three-Character Scripture, One Hundred Family Names, One Thousand Character Primers and Golden Treasury of Quatrains and Octaves.

Unlike during the Song dynasty (960-1279), the Mongolian ruling classes of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) took strict control over academies, for fear that the Han people might unite and rebel. The rulers of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties exerted more control over the thoughts of the common people. During this time the national examination system became ossified, and scholars were even persecuted due to ‘heretical ideologies’.


The Influence of Ancient Greece Today

As you can see, the roots of our governments and most of the political systems today are found in the systems developed in Ancient Greece. But government is not the only way in which Ancient Greece has touched our lives. The bible, the New Testament and religion also find their roots in Ancient Greece. The Learn New Testament Greek course offers over nine hours of content that provides principles of how to access and understand New Testament Greek. This course prepares students for further studies in NT Greek studies.


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