lukon_idein: (Roy "Studying")
Yup. The Weirdness of the Ancients has struck again. And I'm so behind that I should not be letting myself get distracted, but really, when Aristotle goes on for a page and a half on semen, what else can I do???

My double take started with this...

"Further in time of cold and frost, oil thickens but does not freeze. Its failure to freeze is due to its heat - because the air is hot and impervious to frost. But it thickens because the air is coagulated and compressed by the cold. These reasons explain the behaviour of semen as well."

- Obviously. That was my first thought.

"Ktesias of Knidos is obviously mistaken in his statement about the semen of elephants: he says that it gets so hard when it solidifies that it becomes like amber. It does not."

- Sooooo, have you actually, um, checked on this personally? And, on a side note, I notice this is my second quote about elephants. I appear to have an obsession forming.

"It is, of course, true that one semen must of necessity be earthier than another, and the earthiest will be in those animals which, for their bodily bulk, contain a large amount of earthy matter..."

- Of course you're not fat, honey. You just contain a large amount of earthy matter.

"What is more, it is white in all cases. Herodotus is incorrect when he says that the semen of Ethiopians is black, as though everything about a person with black skin were bound to be black - and this too in spite of their teeth being white, as he could see for himself."

- Okay, this just makes me smile because his tone is so... exasperated. Duh, Herodotus. Are you a moron??

"We have now given the reason which solves the puzzle that was stated. And this also shows, incidentally, why semen does not freeze: it is because air is impervious to frost."

- Um, what? Again, does he know this from personal experience? I think this warrants a study. Sir, could you just step into this meat locker and, um, give us a sample?

(All quotes taken from Aristotle's Generation of Animals, 735b-736a)

Um... eew?

Dec. 1st, 2007 07:53 pm
lukon_idein: (Roy "Studying")
So, I'm still alive... barely. I've been sick for over two weeks and it's totally drained my energy and will to live. But, I'm back in the library at last, studying away. Or pretending to at least.

And since my friend, Ms. E., just asked for more insane Roman quotes, I will provide two for your reading pleasure.

First, from De Medicina by Celsus (VII.16), writing in the 1st century AD. It's pretty self explanatory, and frankly, freakin' icky - and yet, curiosity compelled me to keep reading:

"Sometimes the abdomen is penetrated by a stab of some sort, and it follows that intestines roll out. When this happens we must first examine whether they are uninjured, and then whether their proper colour persists. If the smaller intestine has been penetrated, no good can be done, as I have already said. The larger instestine can be sutured, not with any certain assurance, but because a doubtful hope is preferable to certain despair; for occasionally it heals up. Then if either intestine is livid or pallid or black, in which case ther is necessarily no sensation, all medical aid is in vain. But if intestines still have their proper colour, aid should be given with all speed, for they undergo change from moment to moment when exposed to the external air, to which they are unaccustomed. The patient is to be laid on his back with his hips raised; and if the wound is too narrow, for the intestines to be easily replaced, it is to be cut until sufficiently wide. If the intestines have already become too dry, they are to be bathed with water to which a small quantity of oil has been added. Next the assistant should gently separate the margins of the wound by means of his hands, or even by two hooks inserted into the inner membrane: the surgeon always returns first the intestines which have prolapsed the later, in such a way as to preserve the order of the several coils. When all have been returned, the patient is to be shaken gently: so that of their own accord the various coils are brought into their proper places and settle there."

There's more, but I guess I'll leave it at that. Yikes. Anyone who says they want a time machine so they can go back to days of yore might want to read this before they fuel up that flux capacitor.

And, on to the incomparable Martial. Writing in the late 1st century AD, he was master of the epigram - short poems usually with some sort of witty twist to them. He actually reminds me of Oscar Wilde, in that he seems to effortlessly stab people through the heart with his pen, and the world he reveals is populated with nasty, venal, vain and greedy people. But he is so brilliant you can't stop reading. And of course his blatant crass language is also engrossing. I came across this one the other day and *had* to share. Apparently the Romans were really into the removal of body hair. Who knew? Sadly, the translation can't reveal Martial's brilliant use of language, but the idea comes through loud and clear, and all I can say is OUCH!

"Why do you pluck your aged cunt, Ligeia? Why stir up the ashes in your tomb? Such elegances befit girls; but you cannot even be reckoned an old woman any more. Believe me, Ligeia, that is a pretty thing for Hector's wife to do, not his mother. You are mistaken if you think this is a cunt when it no longer has anything to do with a cock. So, Ligeia, for very shame don't pluck the beard of a dead lion."
lukon_idein: (Roy "Studying")
More crazy Pliny quotes that I feel compelled to share for some reason. Enjoy, or not, as you see fit!

"Gold has itself however a maleficent effect if carried over the head, in the case of chickens and the young of cattle as well as human beings." (XXXIII.84)
- So is there much occasion for chickens to have gold over their heads?

"The mixture is made with Cyprian copper verdigris and the urine of a boy who has not reached puberty with the addition of soda;" (XXXIII.93)
- I think I saw that in the Joy of Cooking just last week, actually.

"[Antimony] is of two kinds, male and female. The female variety is preferred, the male being more uneven and rougher to the touch, as well as lighter in weight, not so brilliant, and more gritty; the female on the contrary is bright and friable and splits in thin layers and not in globules." (XXXIII.101)
- Not sure what this has to say about the battle of the sexes, but there's gotta be deep insights in there somewhere...

"This gave rise to a mistake owing to the name 'Indian cinnabar,' for that is the name the Greeks give to the gore of a snake crushed by the weight of dying elephants, when the blood of each animal gets mixed together." (XXXIII.116)
- Every language should have a word for that, really.

"The male viper inserts its head into the female viper's mouth, and the female is so enraptured with pleasure that she gnaws it off." (X.169).
- "I didn't mean to your honor. I was just enraptured with pleasure."
- "Riiiiiight."

Guess I'll stop there. My eyes are about to go on strike. But hey, don't you feel so much more in tune with nature now? And be careful not to hold any gold over your loved ones' heads. This means you, all you married folks with your maleficent wedding rings!
lukon_idein: (Oslo)
Just minding my own business, trying to research ancient uses of lead, and what should I find?

"Leaden plates are applied to the region of the loins and kidneys for their comparative chilly nature to check the attacks of venereal passions, and the libidinous dreams that cause spontaneous emissions to the extent of constituting a kind of disease. It is recorded that the pleader Calvus used these platses to control and to preserve his bodily strength for laborious study."

Wow. Um. Great. Thanks for the info, Pliny. I take it there's no Latin word for OVERSHARE?? And no matter how much I might want this masters, there is no way I'm strapping lead plates to my nether parts for it!!!
lukon_idein: (Oslo)
"However, the metal pipes could be painful if jolted into someone's eye, and they were not widely used." -- Ivor Noel-Hume, Artifacts of Colonial America

Um, I'm pretty sure a ceramic pipe would also be pretty painful if jolted into someone's eye. Did this happen a lot? Who knew pipe smoking was an ocular hazard? Perhaps we ought to petition to get a warning placed on pipe tobacco packaging.


lukon_idein: (Default)

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