Through the oculi of Pliny the Elder: a gendered representation of Roman women as patients and healers
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 12:24 authored by Melinda A. E. Ryan
The study of ancient medicine has been the primary occupation of many recent scholars of ancient history. However, very little of that scholarship has focused on the efficacy of ancient pharmacopeia and even less has further concentrated on medical remedies related specifically to the female sex. The encyclopaedic wonder that is Pliny the Elder's Historia Naturalis, abounds with hundreds of remedies and observations principally concerned with women's health. These passages specifically examine the 'everyday life' aspect of treating women's medical conditions, from menstruation through to motherhood. This thesis analyses and interprets a well -rounded collection of these references utilising socio-cultural and post-structuralist methodologies to determine how female healthcare was viewed in ancient Italy. It also briefly examines the roles available for imperial women to practise medicine in both a domestic and non-domestic setting. It is necessary, particularly during this age of gender equality advocacy, to attempt to provide a voiceto an otherwise silent group of women. This thesis demonstrates the idiosyncratic representation of women as both patients and healers as sen through the work of an elite Roman male who lived in a predominantly patriarchal society.