Gender roles and healing: exploring the complexities of Roman health care
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:31 by Peter John Dean
While there has been an increase in scholarship in the field of gender studies in the ancient world this has not adequately considered these roles in relation to Roman medicine. The role of females as healers has been under-considered compared to men and existing studies tend to understate the role of these women as midwives. This thesis will examine these neglected areas and position Roman medicine in a nuanced cultural and social context. In addition to surveys of relevant ancient sources it applies contemporary methodologies and approaches from the social sciences in order to provide new insight from these texts. The nature of professional healers in Rome is explored and considered particularly in relation the duties of both men and women. By using Soranus as a known source for female healers and comparing this to the works of Pliny and Dioscorides this thesis is able to identify trends in medical treatment applied by men and women and from this information gain a better understanding of gender roles in Roman society. From this survey it was also possible to identify and categorise the particular pharmaceuticals used by male and female healers and ascertain their significance from a Roman perspective.