If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support

Nursing Mothers in Greek and Roman Medicine

Julie Laskaris
American Journal of Archaeology
Vol. 112, No. 3 (Jul., 2008), pp. 459-464
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20627484
Page Count: 6
  • Download PDF
  • Cite this Item

You are not currently logged in.

Access your personal account or get JSTOR access through your library or other institution:

login

Log in to your personal account or through your institution.

If you need an accessible version of this item please contact JSTOR User Support
Nursing Mothers in Greek and Roman Medicine
Preview not available

Abstract

Greek and Roman pharmacopias included a heavily symbolic and highly effective substance: human milk. In early Greek sources, human milk, sometimes specifically from "a woman who has borne a male child," is recommended almost exclusively in treating women. The Greek use was adapted from an Egyptian ritual calling for the "milk of one who has borne a male child" to be poured from an anthropomorphic vase of Isis nursing Horus; the Egyptian application was not, however, gender specific. Similar vases were found in Greece in Geometric/Orientalizing contexts. These factors, together with evidence for Isis worship in Greece, suggest Greek knowledge of Egyptian ritual. Human milk therapies also appear in medical works arising in the Roman context, where they are not gender specific. Owing to Etruscan influence, Roman society was less polarized sexually than Greek, and it was more accepting of the female body. The Etruscans' and Romans' rich tradition of depicting nursing mothers sharply contrasts with Greek charines about the female breast. Thus, we see that medical ideas and practices, as they were transmitted cross-culturally, were affected variously by each culture's concepts of sexual gender.

Page Thumbnails

  • Thumbnail: Page 
459
    459
  • Thumbnail: Page 
460
    460
  • Thumbnail: Page 
461
    461
  • Thumbnail: Page 
462
    462
  • Thumbnail: Page 
463
    463
  • Thumbnail: Page 
464
    464