Saturday, April 22, 2017

S for Salpe: Female Scientists Before Our Time


Salpe was a 1st Century midwife from the Greek Island of Lemnos. We have Roman author Pliny the Elder to thank for recording some of her life. She had some unusual treatments, all of them unconventional.


It's not likely Salpe was a well-educated woman, which is not to say she wasn't smart. Her form of medicine was different from the medical professionals of her day, and would have appealed more to the common people who couldn't afford to pay for a physician. Salpe relied on a “mix of superstition, herbal cures, prayer, and sympathetic magic.”

Some of Salpe’s unusual remedies:

  • For dog bites - wear the flux of wool from a black ram contained in a silver bracelet.
  • For numb or stiff limbs – spit into the bosom of patient, or touch the upper eyelids with saliva.
  • To strengthen eyes – apply urine.
  • To cure sunburn - mix urine and egg white (ostrich preferred); apply to skin every two hours.
  • To stop a dog from barking – feed it a live frog.  


Woman with elaborate dress and headgear sitting on a stool. 
Terracotta figurine (about 230 BC) from Myrina, 
Isle of Lemnos, Greece.


Source:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salpe
https://rebelwomenembroidery.wordpress.com/tag/salpe/

18 comments:

  1. Unusual remedies, but not so for her times. Smartness doesn't have to come from education...

    Best wishes,
    Nilanjana.
    Madly-in-Verse

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    Replies
    1. Most likely true. We certainly don't know everything!

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  2. Wow those remedies are something! Very interesting and unusual!

    S is for Social Media

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    1. Something to remember huh. I find the use of urine twice pretty interesting.

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  3. Hmm - not sure I'd want to be trying many of those!! Wonder what happened to those that did? Once again a very interesting and worthwhile post :) http://pempispalace.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/s-is-for-solitary-sapien-solar-system.html

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    1. Oh, but in desperate times? I bet some swore by the remedies!

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  4. Hi Sharon - Salpe another midwife, but taking a different approach to other physicians - I bet she did a lot of good - obviously not for anything serious, but minor complaints bet they got cleared up quickly. Fascinating woman - and thanks to Pliny we know about her ... cheers Hilary

    http://positiveletters.blogspot.co.uk/2017/04/s-for-sheep.html

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    1. Now when I see Pliny, I think to myself, she must have been worthy of news. She made it this far and here we are reading about her!

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  5. Well, it certainly would shut a dog up if you force fed it a live frog! Not sure I'd do it, though. She must have had some success to turn up in Pliny. Who, by the way, wrote quite a bit before Vesuvius blew up and killed him, didn't he? :)

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    1. Ha-ha. Yeah, I'd like to see someone try that. But don't forget there's the remedy for dog bites too :)

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  6. Very unusual remedies! Interestingly urine has been used as a facial cleanser and may even still be. Thanks Sharon!

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    1. Yes, indeed. And as a facial cleanser? I suppose it has something to do with being acidic. Interesting.

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  7. Well, those are quite the remedies! I don't think I would feed my dog a live frog but maybe my gossipy neighbour:)

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  8. I suspect that being a more 'common' kind of doctor would have applied to many women as well as many men back then. I'm not an expert of Greek social history, but my guess is that being a "professional" doctor was for a few lucky whoc ould study.
    But it's cool that Salpe's story came down to us. There must have been something special about her :-)

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter - 1940s Film Noir

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    1. She must have traveled far touching a lot of lives. Her story is pretty special.

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