Mother and child

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  • 1. MOTHER AND CHILD IN THE GREEK WORLDHistorical Perspectives onwomanhood and children in theancient world

2. Who or what was a woman during the time ofthe ancient Greeks?What were the common ways and meansrelated to womanhood?What status did they have?What were the commonsense beliefs onconception, pregnancy, childbirth, abortion,and perils of womanhood?What is a child in ancient Greek society?Did children have any significance in the Greeksociety? 3. On value of women:On Virgins by Hippocrates 4th century BC...Unmarried girls at menarche are liable to becomedelirious and to throw themselves down wellsand drown, since the menstrual blood cannotproperly flow until the orifice of egress has beenopened up through intercourse. Unable to findrelease, the blood settles around the heart andbecomes a burden to the body, producingheaviness, torpor and insanity...my prescription isthat virgins should marry as soon as possible...ifthey become healthy they are cured...if not, thenat puberty or shortly afterwards they willsuccumb.... 4. MALE POINTS OF VIEW OF WOMEN More male doctors , less female midwives Primary procreating function of the malesperm over female womba.Eumenides of Aeschylusmother is not theparent of that which is called the child, butonly nurse of the newly implanted seed. It isthe one who mounts who is the true parent 5. b.Myth of Zeus 1st wife MetisZeus upon learning that his wife is pregnant was advised by Ouranus & Gaia to swallow her otherwise she bears a child that would be mightier than its father( Athena, the child)c. Birth of Dionysius sewn as an embryo to Zeus thigh which implies the perception that male can function after females function is done.d. Aristotles History of Animals- stated that male is instrumental in enducing labor pains 6. CONCEPTION BELIEFS-from Soranus Gynaecology- conception is most likely when ones period is coming to an end and after taking little food; must be sober during intercourse otherwise the offspring will be deformed.-Hippocrates- environmental elements determine conceptionexposure to hot wind and hard water results to barrenness, miscarriages, and hardening of breast.-strenuous activity prevents conception-food conditions the uterus-beans and water made into a dough as contraceptive measure. 7. PREGNANCY BELIEFS-extended pregnancy is possible( a misconception of amenorhea)-Hippocrates Obstetrics:On test for pregnancywater mixed with honeyTo determine sex of the unborn healthy complexion means male; poor complexion means femaleHow to cure infertility excessively thin women can easily miscarry; excessively fat women cannot conceiveHealth of the embryoif mothers breast is hard it is healthy;if milk flows plentifully then it is unhealthyOn test for fertility- cover her with blanket and burn perfume beneath her. When the scent passes through her body up into her mouth and nostrils, the she is not sterile 8. DELIVERY PROCEDURES-home delivery- unassisted by doctor; done bymidwives called maia-maia asks mother to seat upright on a stoolwith a crescent-shape cut into it; calms themothers fear; draws the amniotic sac withforefinger of left hand then catches infant in atowel; revives mother with scents 9. PERILS OF CHILDBIRTH- Childbirth was so risky partly because standards of hygiene were so inadequate, and partly because majority of mothers were still pubescent when they first gave birth(age 14 or 15). Miscarriages were extremely common as were the deaths of women in labour. 10. ON ABORTION- Generally despised and summed up in theHippocratic oath, I will not give to anywoman a pessary to cause abortion-selective abortion only for health risk,adultery, or aesthetic recovery reasons-How? Walking about energetically and beshaken by draught animals; or leap violentlyor carry things which are too heavy. 11. GREEK ATTITUDE TOWARDS ABORTION Abortion is done only after authorization fromfatherto ensure father, not the mothersrights. Abortion is permissible only before the fetusreceived life and feeling(Aristotle)- fear ofincreasing population and not much on theconcern for the right of the unborn. Abortion pollutes household- abortion of fullydeveloped unborn heavily pollutes, while thatof less developed fetus lightly pollutes only. 12. ON UNWANTED CHILDREN- Termination is least likely through abortionotherwise there will be blood-guilt- Resorted instead to ekthesis or exposurewhere a child will be brought to a desolateplace to be left to die of cold and lack of foodor be devoured by beasts.Q: what validated such immorality and crueltyto children 13. Girls were abandoned far more frequentlythan boys:-girls are more expensive to be brought upthan boys-range of jobs for girls are limited-when they get married, substantial dowry isneeded(lower class)Possidipus, if you have a son, you bring him up,even if you are poor, but if you have a daughter,you abandon her, even if you are rich 14. Who decides whether to abandon child or not?FATHER since he owns the childProofs of infanticide1.Inscriptions in Miletus Turkey where a noticeable low number of female as membes of population;2.Presence of mercenaries whose tasks were to ensure the listing of names to account for citizenship;3. Legality of abandonement of handicapped in Sparta,the life which nature had not provided with health and strength was of no use either to itself or to the state 15. On Ekthesis and membership to the family -the decision whether to put down a child had to be done before the 10th day from birth because right on the 10th day a membership ceremony had to be performed.AMPHIDROMIA- membership ceremony which sought guidance from Hestia, the goddess of hearth(fireplacefire as purificant & fireplace as center of home) 16. Why the need to purify the child?to ensurethat the childs birth has not polluted thecommunity at large.Why was there the idea of polluting oruncleanliness in childbirth?Greeks believedthat a woman giving birth is unclean both inthe physical and religious sense. 17. ON ORPHANS-main cause: perpetual warfare among Greeks-Orphanos fatherless childfurther indicates prejudice against the status & importance of mother in Greek social thinking.-In Athensorphans of those who died in war were taken care of the state until they come of age, but those left behind by parents who died of disease or accident were not necessarily taken care by the state. 18. ON NURSING AND REARING CHILDREN-mothers generally nursed but if well-off, anurse is contracted-nurse must be self-controlled, sympathetic,well-tempered, and Greek nursing is asimple transmission of character. 19. GENERALIZATION1.Greek myth, Greek philosophy and Greek medicine allcombine to produce an image of the mother whichto modern eyes emphatically suggests anundervaluation of women. This interpretation issuggested most strikingly by the perception of thefemale as biologically defective and subservientorganism whose proper functioning requires theintervention and subservience of male; and for thelow emphasis placed on ties of affection which oursociety are believed to exist naturally between amother and her child. 20. 2. Consequently, there has been very little andinsignificant portrayal of mother and childtheme before the 10th century of Christianityrevealing the irrelevance of such theme inGreek artistic tradition. 21. Thoughts to ponderAre the forgoing analysis of details of Greek society relative towomen and children really reflective of the weak capabilitiesof women?Could it not be that such views may have been the necessaryresult of the all-too frequent occurence of child death whichmay have also been the reason for the dearth of artisticrepresentations of mother and child?Could it also be that the Greek medical ascriptions on womenwere their means of expressing their compassion towards thegreat biological constraints inherent to women?

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