Sunday, March 26, 2023

Agnodice, the Ancient Greek Doctor


Agnodice was a literary figure who may or may not have been based on a real person. She had to cross dress to get an education and to practice, but also filled a need for women patients who didn't want to expose themselves to strange men. The story of her trial seems so typical: women like this doctor, so let's try him for seduction. Oh, the doctor is a woman? Well, she must be innocent of seduction, but let's find another charge against her, like cross dressing.

Gaius Julius Hyginus most likely wrote the story as a springboard for a discussion of the propriety of a woman doctor vs. the need for women doctors, a valid debate at the time. That discussion devolved into whether Agnodice should be classified as a doctor or a midwife, which was silly anyway because there were no standards or licensing of either in ancient Greece, just a hierarchy of "importance" based on gender.

This comic is from Ryan North at Dinosaur Comics. (Thanks, WTM!)


WTM said...

From all what I have read, this story is entirely believable. The film 'Shakespeare in Love' had the same theme, only involving actors instead of doctors, and it was historically accurate in that regard. And not too many hundreds of years ago, the Catholic Church actually debated on whether or not women were actually human!

You've come a long way, baby, to get where you've got to today. (Anyone else remember that commercial?)

Miss Cellania said...

Virginia Slims. A catchy jingle is forever.

WTM said...

Just what is it you want, Miss C - good grammar or good taste?

Miss Cellania said...

For myself? Both. For everyone else, I don't really care.

WTM said...

The folks at Winston Cigarettes circa 1966 would like a word with you.