Aristotle, Galen - "one-sex body" - male norm, female version is mutilated, cold,.


"Phaethousa [after] her husband was exiled stopped menstruating for a long time. Afterwards pains and reddening in the joints. When that happened her body was masculinized and grew hairy all over, she grew a beard, her voice became harsh, and though we did everything we could to bring forth menses they did not come... all the physicians I met thought that there was one hope of feminizing her, if normal menstruation occurred. But... she died quickly."

Soranos of Ephesus;


alternate model - Hippocratic texts - women entirely different; texture of flesh spongy;

Compares female flesh with loose wool and male flesh with woven cloth;

"gynaikaeia" - women's sexual organs, menstruation, women's diseases, and treatment for those diseases;

fifth and fourth centuries BC,

about one-fourth of Hippocratic works deal with diseases of women -Diseases of Women, On Sterile Women, Nature of Women, On Generation, Nature of the Child, Eight Month's Child, On the Diseases of Virgins, other texts on difficult births.


Hippocratic texts copied and recopied into Middle Ages;


Women as silent patients,


The Doctor, "Patients put themselves into the hands of their physician, and at every moment he meets women, maidens, and possessions very precious indeed." 

body seen as complicated, system of signs.  Danger of deceit,


menstruation expected to be heavy and regular,


nature of womb- problems caused by failure to menstruate, exhaustion, insufficient diet, sexual abstinence, or if womb itself too dry or too light.

"light a lamp and snuff it out under the nostrils."


"hysterikos" means "from the womb"


transformation of immature girls "parthenos" into mature reproductive women "gyne".


On the Disease of Virgins

"for if they become pregnant, they will be cured."


womb compared to a jar -

compared to an oven


"hodos", uninterrupted route from nostrils to womb.

"When the womb is drawn down the body, fumigate the woman from beneath with putrid substances and burn sweet-smelling substances under her nose."


On Generation - both parents contribute seed in reproduction,

sex of baby determined by three factors: right and left; time of intercourse; strength of seed -

"the male creature being stronger than the female must of course originate from a stronger sperm"


- Aristotle - seed from male & "catamenia" from female. catamenia were "semen not in a pure state, but in need of working up."

"If, then, the male stands for the effective and active, and the female for the passive, it follows that what the female would contribute to the semen of the male would not be semen, but rather material for the semen to work upon.  This is just what we find to be the case, for the catamenia have in their nature an affinity to primitive matter."


"it is the male that has the power of making the sensitive soul."


Hippocratic pharmacology,