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Motherhood and Health in the Hippocratic Corpus: Does maternity protect against disease?

Abstract : In the medical treatises of the Hippocratic corpus, while in many ways motherhood is generally highly valued as supporting women’s health, there is one context in which it is seen as a danger. This is the case of the ἐπίτοκος. In this paper I will examine this term and argue that the Hippocratic Epidemics’ account of Phaethousa of Abdera, who grows a beard after her husband leaves her, should be seen not primarily as a case of menstrual suppression, but more specifically as a warning that there are some women for whom regularly giving birth is essential to the maintenance of their health. For such women, their bodies’ reliance on motherhood in fact makes them run greater risks of fatal illness if their pattern of regular childbearing is interrupted.
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https://halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr/halshs-02097726
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Submitted on : Friday, April 12, 2019 - 11:11:53 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, April 13, 2019 - 1:09:51 AM

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Helen King. Motherhood and Health in the Hippocratic Corpus: Does maternity protect against disease?. Mètis - Anthropologie des mondes grecs anciens, Daedalus/EHESS, 2013, Dossier : Mères et maternités en Grèce ancienne, N.S.11, pp.51-70. ⟨10.4000/books.editionsehess.2986⟩. ⟨halshs-02097726⟩

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