Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Niki Kantzios

Keywords

Conception, Culture, Greece, Gynecology, Medicine, Rome

Abstract

This thesis addresses what cultural influences and social circumstances shaped the works of the Hippocratic Corpus and Soranus's Gynecology. This thesis will illustrate how these medical texts are representative of how women were viewed by men in Classical Greece and Early Imperial Rome, respectively. It deals additionally with how these gynecological works in turn impacted the way in which society viewed and treated women. In particular, these medical writers' changing views of the act of conception shed light on the differing attitudes of their cultures. Thus far research on these time periods and works has focused too narrowly on one aspect of society to do them justice, nor has there been an effort to separate Soranus's work from the Hippocratic Corpus as representative of a completely different culture and time period. Scholarship has not before discussed the importance of who controls power over conception, men or women, as the key to understanding why women were treated they way they were by men.

Using a feminist approach, this thesis examines the culture, mythology, literature, history, and medicine of these cultures, employing cultural morphology to understand how and why they changed. Greek men feared the women in their lives because they believed that women controlled conception. Roman men did not fear the women in their lives but respected them as mothers, for the important reason that women did not control or contribute to conception. All of the cultural evidence examined inclines one to believe that the way women were treated and viewed by men in the Classical period of Greece and the early Imperial period in Rome, is related directly to who held the power over conception of children, men or women.

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