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Lecture 8

Textbook Readings for Lecture 8

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Regina Höschele

CLA219: Women inAntiquity Texts 338-352 IX. Medicine and anatomy “There needs must be a female” Philosophers observe nature ‘Awoman is an infertile man’ 338. Origins of the desire for procreation. Athens, 4th cent. BC (Plato, Timaeus 90e-91d. G) • Plato attributes to Timaeus an account of the creation of the universe • Timaeus compares human genitalia to undomesticated animals, whereby providing an etiology for sexual desire and for female hysteria • Men who were both in ‘that’generation who were cowardly and unjust were, as required by logic, changed into women in the second generation • Sexual desire is a living creature • Sexual desire is self-willed and disobedient like an animal, and tries to control everything be- cause of its maddening desires • “mothering” (metrai) and latter places (hysteria) in women • Women too have an animal in them eager for conception • And if it goes without for a long stretch it starts to wander around the body causing various ail- ments until passion of both man and woman bring them together The living this is the womb (metra) • 339. The female role in generation. Athens, 4th cent. BC (Aristotle, On the Generation of Animals, ###-###. Tr. A.L. Peck, LCL. G) • Aristotle’s explanation of the process of conception is deduced from external secretions • Male semen has primary generative importance • Female semen (i.e. menstrual fluid, which also sustains the developing embryo) purely nu- tritive value Male and female defined • Male possesses principle of movement and of generation; the female that of matter Uses the example of the formation of semen to explain • • Male is defined as one who generates in another • Females as one who generates in themselves • This why is cosmology the earth is a female and ‘mother • And the sky and heavens are ‘generator’and father • Male and female differ in respect to their logos in that the power of faculty possessed by the one differed from the other • But they also differ bodily Male and female secretion Menstrual fluid is residue and is analogous to semen of males as evidences by its ‘behavior’ • • The same time men begin to generate semen, women discharge menstrual fluid • I.e. Puberty • Similarly in old age both semen cease generating/discharging • Blood vessels are not so prominent in females compared to males • Females are made smoother than males, because residue which goes to produce characteristics in males is in females discharged together with the menstrual fluid CLA219: Women inAntiquity Texts 338-352 • Females are paler and blood vessels are not prominent because they are smaller made and there is an obvious deficiency in physique as compared to males • The female does not contribute any semen to generation, for if there were semen, there would be no menstrual fluid • Some think that she does contribute when she has pleasure from coitus because she, errr, well she cums • But not to worry, this is just a peculiar discharge from the uterus and thus not seminal and does not actually happen in all women Or maybe you just don’t know what you’re doingAristotle. • • He goes on to say that this is more typical of fair skinned women who are feminine, and not in dark skinned women who are masculine • The bulk of this discharge can outweigh that of a male, and differences of food cause the amount • I.e. Pungent foods cause a noticeable amount • A boy resembles a woman in physique and a female is an infertile man • Afemale is a failed man as they failed to concoct semen out of the final state of the nourish- ment because of the coldness of their nature • Menstrual fluid is thus not pure semen, but something that needs to be acted upon • Compares it to fruit that is yet forming • The nourishment is present but it needs to be acted upon to be purified The role of heat • Right side of body is hotter than the left • Hotter semen is serene which has been concocted, meaning that it has been set and compacted and the more compacted semen is more fertile • Male is that which is able to concoct, to cause to take shape, and to discharge, semen possess- ing the ‘principle’of the ‘form’ • by ‘principle’he does not mean that sort out of which offspring is formed belonging to the same kind as its parent, but the proximate motive principle, whether it is able to act thus in itself or in something else • The female receives the semen, but is unable to cause semen to take shape or to discharge it • All concoction works by means of heat • The male animals are hotter than female ones (as their coldness causes them to be female) • Female has more abundance of fluid in certain region of the body • When ‘principle’is failing to gain the mastery and is unable to effect concoction owing to defi- ciency of heat, and does not succeed in reducing the material into its own proper form, but in- stead is worsted in the attempt, then of necessity the material must change over into its opposite condition • I.e. If it fails to be a male it will be female
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