Autopsia, Historia and What Women Know: The Authority of Women in Hippocratic Gynaecology
KNOWLEDGE AND THE SCHOLARLY MEDICAL TRADITIONS, Don Bates, ed., Cambridge University Press, pp. 41-59, 1995
11 Pages Posted: 5 Sep 2007
There is a debate among scholars about how much access to female bodies ancient Greek doctors had (autopsia) and how much of their knowledge of female bodies derived solely from the reports of women (historia). There is not the same concern either among modern scholars or the ancient doctors themselves about the contribution of reports from male patients. Consideration of the evidence suggests that this is because the Greeks perceived a cognitive break between experiencing life in a female body and experiencing it in a male's. A doctor did not have to have suffered all possible diseases to be able to understand the experiences of a male patient, but in order to validate his competency to treat female patients he had to show that he had consulted women, even if they had not had medical training themselves.
Keywords: Ancient gynecology, ancient medicine, ancient epistemology, sexuality, Hippocratics, midwives
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