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Cleopatra Metrodora. 2 

Cleopatra Metrodora. 2 

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Cleopatra is a female figure widespread in Greece (especially in Macedonian territory), Egypt and Syria during the Hellenistic era. Ancient women doctors bearing the name Cleopatra have been identified by a systematic search through the ancient Greek, Latin and Egyptian bibliography, including original resources from the first century BC. Fictional...

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... (mid-fifth century to mid-sixth century), the renowned Byzantine physician, mentioned the aromatic oils Cleopatra used. These were cassia oil, rush blossom and myrovalano (some kind of plum), as well as blossom oil and mastic. When a person wished to have bright skin, he should smear his body with a mixture of flour, clover, the plum and ammonia incense. Ae ̈ tius also wrote that in order to treat contusions Cleopatra produced casters from sperm and the liquid extract from white ripe melons. 9 Plutarch (c46–120 AD) has referred to Cleopatra’s production of a powerful lethal poison that could induce death rapidly, without spasms and sighs, almost under hypnosis. 10 She had probably rewritten ‘Cosmetics’ – a work that was first mentioned by either the philosopher Crito (c469 – fourth century BC), 11 a friend of Socrates (c469–399 BC), or the chief physician and procurator of Roman Emperor Trajan, Criton of Heraclea (c second century AD); or maybe she wrote a treatise of the same name, upgraded with new remedies of her era and her own pharmaceutical and aesthetic recipes. As ancient testimonies have consistently cited a Cleopatra as the author of ‘Cosmetics’, perhaps we should accept the views of Ae ̈ tius and Tzetes. 9,12 Six fragments of her work ‘Cosmetics’ survive in the corpus of medical writings that have come down to us from antiquity. Four are cited by Galen (129 – c200 AD), one by Ae ̈ tius and the sixth by Paul of Aegina (c625–690). This work was written as a professional manual where Cleopatra offered advice on the preparation and application of remedies and gave instructions for the patient. This structure may be due to Galen or Paul of Aegina. Her topical remedies included antiseptics such as real- gar, pitch, turpentine and rose oil. The most glamorous Cleopatra of all is a misty and complex historical figure. She may have committed sui- cide, she may have been killed or have run away from the Romans, 13 she may have been dark or white skinned, she may have been beautiful or ugly, she may have influ- enced Roman politics in a decisive period and have ended up representing the model of the romantic fatal woman like no other woman in ancient times. Whoever that female figure was, it can be said with some certainty that she developed medical expertise mostly of gynaecology, pharmacology and aesthetics. Testimony to the effectiveness of her proposed remedies is the longevity of her work which was mentioned by Galen (third century), Ae ̈ tius of Amida in Alexandria (sixth century), Paul of Aegina (seventh century) and John Tzetes (twelfth century). 3 This Cleopatra is named as the author of ‘Cosmetics’ and Galen indicated she was a real person but personal data about her life are lacking. The work entitled ‘Feminine Diseases’ could be attributed to her or to Cleopatra of Egypt VII. Both Galen and the Byzantine surgeon Paul of Aegina referred to her work. 14 According to Galen, the ‘Cosmetics’ should be attributed to her. His writings suggest she had written about myrsinites as a treatment for tinea favosa and rash. A mixture of bran, myrrh, incense, raisins, laurel oil, aged oils, chalk and wild fig tree roots was listed as a treatment for rashes and leprosy. Alopecia was treated by applying orpiment (an arsenic sulphide mineral) together with othonion. A mixture of soft cane roots, linen sperm, oil, with sweet wine to reduce the smell, was left to dry in the shade in casters. This was used on the scalp to either strengthen or grow new hair. 15 A similar pharmaceutical concoction for hair loss, with the addition of roses, was also mentioned by Ae ̈ tius of Amida. However, Ae ̈ tius maintained the idea that ‘Cosmetics’ written by Queen Cleopatra VII and also the recipe for the production of regular and aromatic soaps. 16 Criton of Heraclea (Titus Stratilius Crito, in Latin) read Cleopatra’s works which he summarized in his own treatise ‘Cosmetics’ in about 100 AD. 3 Cleopatra the Alchemist was famous for the processing of metals and the production of gold. Only one copy of her essay entitled ‘Gold making’ has survived. Probably, like all other alchemists, she had anatomical knowledge and corpse thefts and grave robbing were common practice among the alchemists of that era. Her attempts to produce the elixir of life show she had a clear understanding of pharmacology. 17 Cleopatra the gynaecologist lived in Rome. Her greatest work, ‘De Genetricis’ (‘On Genetics’), was believed to be the most important medical text authored by a woman (along with the Greek Aspasia’s writings – c fourth century AD) 19 until the eleventh century when Trotula appeared in the School of Salerno. 20 The work of Cleopatra the gynaecologist is almost unknown to contemporary medicine. She wrote about most gynaecological and obstetrics subjects and some chapters are still extant in Latin, mixed within the works of Theodoros Pristianos. A few other uncredited works could be attributed to her. 2,20,21 Cleopatra Metrodora (Figure 2) lived most probably around the seventh century AD, a contemporary of Soranus of Ephesus (second century AD). 22–25 She was a very resourceful gynaecologist and midwife and wrote many works including ‘On the uterus, abdomen and kidneys’. 8,26 Her writing starts with the following introduction ‘Because women’s diseases are many and various and as we say all of them, are connected to the uterus, it is necessary to write about them as well as the symptoms that occur in these diseases; because some of them are intricate to treat and others are fatal, by these notes we will recognize each one’. 25 Byzantine medical writers, Oribasius (c320–400), Ae ̈ tius of Amida, Paul of Aegina, Pavlos Nikeos (seventh century) and Alexander of Tralles (c525 – c605) have not mentioned her. Patriarch Photios I of Constantinople (c810 – c893), who provided us with such wisdom and intellectual knowledge, did not find or perhaps did not approve any of her writing for inclu- sion in his Bibliotheca or Myriobiblon . Thus Cleopatra Metrodora seems to have been completely unknown, to the extent of non-existence, to all of the Byzantine ancient physicians and writers, destined to be nameless for many centuries. 2 However, a parchment manuscript of 263 pages in the Laurentian Library in Florence, Italy, dates back to the twelfth century. This work is divided into 108 chapters and is attributed to Cleopatra Metrodora. According to the prominent Greek Professor Skevos Zervos (1875–1966), Cleopatra Metrodora’s work ‘On Women’s Diseases’ proves the crystallization of her opinions and theories, the personification of her research and experience. 25 The fact that a woman her- self dared to write her views, let alone at a time when woman’s place was at home, along with her freedom of thinking and her education that was in status nascendi, are evidence of her major inclination towards research and ongoing love for science. 26,27 Unfortunately Metrodora, describing only her own views and opinions, narrowed down the actual volume of work to 32 handwritten pages, leaving out much of general interest of that time. Consequently the work has not been considered perfect, lacking the seal of some brilliant spirit trying to dazzle the reader. However, medical science was brilliantly enlightened due to her work that was, in fact, a scorn to prejudice and a daring expression of interesting and important studies and observations. 2 Cleopatra Metrodora described various methods for determining the foetus’ sex: 28 ‘When the dried umbilical cord is cut and drunk, it makes women give birth to girls; and let both of them drink it; but mercury, also when drunk by men, makes them give birth to boys, but when women drink it they give birth to girls; let them both drink it when the moon is foul for twelve days’. 29 In cases of difficult labour she recommended for the ‘hysteric’ pregnant to be spread with almond oil. 26 She suggested therapies for menorrhagia and metror- rhagia, for the hysteric shock and for breast and uterine cancer, and she gave advice to ‘apply potato porridge mixed with goose fat in a form of pessos’ (something like a tampon). She also made a note of a method to diagnose virginity that could be used to determine possible sexual abuse. 30 She defined the way to diagnose and treat female sterility and also provided instructions for breastfeed- ing and production of breast milk while she was prac- tising aesthetic breast and face reconstruction. She was also considered able to cure obesity and reconstruct the hymen. Sometimes she followed Alexander of Tralles’ methods and used herbal substances described by Theophrastus of Eresos (c371 – c287 BC). 28 Galen studied medicine in Alexandria and therefore it is possible that his reports on Cleopatra may refer to the Egyptian Queen, particularly those on beautifying pharmaceutical products. Moreover, both Cleopatra the assistant and Queen Cleopatra seem to have written a book on pharmacology. The intense desire of Queen Cleopatra to build the great empire of Egypt may have led her to the construction of a machine for the processing of metals and the production of gold, necessary for the maintenance of the army and the growth of commerce. It is certain that Cleopatra the Alchemist was famil- iar with pharmacology. Just as Queen Cleopatra’s scheming led her to a path of erotism, it is possible to have also led her to the path of alchemy. We should not forget the alleged opening of the abdomens of pregnant slave women by the Queen Cleopatra, a practice famil- iar to the alchemists. We should also take into account that Julius Cesar was troubled by alopecia 32 as well as remembering Ae ̈ tius’ opinion about the author of ‘Cosmetics’. On the other hand, Galen mentions that Cleopatra’s task was called ‘Cosmetic’ while he usually referred to it as ‘Cosmetics’. 3 This raises the question of two separate works, something underpinned by the fact that Cleopatra’s most powerful mixture for ...

Citations

... Therapeutically, it is of interest that she proposed the surgical removal of the tumour mentioning that, in the same time, she could surgically reconstruct the vagina and the labia. Moreover, she was suggesting the application of tuber porridge mixed with goose fat, or a mixture of cinnamon, cob and ginger in a form of intravaginal pessary [11]. ...
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Byzantine physicians recognized uterine cancer as a distinct disease and tried to suggest a therapeutic approach. The work of Oribasius, Aetius of Amida, Paul of Aegina, Cleopatra Metrodora and Theophanes Nonnus reflects the Hippocratic-Galenic scientific ideas as well as their own concept on this malignancy. According to their writings uterine cancer was considered an incurable disease and its treatment was based mainly on palliative herbal drugs.
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Chapter
10.1 INTRODUCTION In Greek mythology, the world is divided into three realms. Zeus rules heaven, Poseidon the sea, and Pluto the shadows of the underworld. Since time immemorial, the living world was separated from the world of death, shadows, and souls. The underworld (hell, the netherworld, or Hades) was located either in remote astronomic regions or hidden somewhere in the underground. Those who had received proper burial rites were allowed to enter. This means that for those who have passed away, there must be a proper way to get there. In Greek mythology, the dead had to cross a certain river(s)—Acheron, Cocytus, Lethe, Styx, or Phlegeton. Within the everlasting darkness there were many chthonian divinities, gods and goddesses considered the rulers of the underworld in classical mythology: the king of the netherworld was Pluto (note that there are various ways of spelling this name), Hades (' Aδης, Haides, Aides, ' Aιδης), Aidoneus, Klymenos, Clymenus, Dis Pater, Orcus, and the goddesses Persephone, also known as Kore or Proserpina. Hades is the Lord of the Shadows, the King of the netherworld, the god of the lower world, and the sender of death to the mortals. Hades is also the god of funeral rites. He is mostly seen with his three-headed hellhound Kerberos (Latin: Cerberus). In the little book on images of the gods it is said that ". . .homo terribilis in solio sulphureo sedens, sceptrum regni in manu tenens dextra: sinistra, animam constringes, cui tricipitem Cerberum sub pedibus collo-cabant, et iuxta se tres Harpyias habebat. De throno aure eius sulphureo quatuor flumina manabunt, quae scilicet Lethum, Cocytu, Phlegethontem, et Acherontem appellabant, et Stygem paludem iuxta flu-mina assignabant.". . . This translates as ". . . an intimidating person sit-ting on a throne of sulfur, holding the scepter of his realm in his right hand, and with his left strangling a soul. Under his feet three-headed History of Toxicology and Environmental Health.