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  • The Greeks and Romans gave us so much that it's little wonder we continue to sing their praises as great inventors, artists and writers.

  • But not everything they thought has stood the test of time.

  • Here are five of their most absurd pieces of wisdom.

  • Number one.

  • "If a woman says no she means yes." - Ovid

  • A highly damaging piece of advice from the Latin poet Ovid's Guide to Love.

  • "Women act coy," he maintained "and may even put up a fight, but secretly they want to be overcome in battle."

  • Now to women today, especially in the era of #MeToo, it's pretty abhorrent.

  • In fact, the poem from which this piece of advice comes actually helped to land Ovid in exile for being so sexually explicit.

  • Two.

  • "Dark skinned men produce black semen." - Herodotus

  • Herodotus - the so called father of history - believed this to be true, both of Ethiopians and certain Indians.

  • To modern eyes it may look racist.

  • But to him it was little more than a curiosity worthy of note.

  • He did not provide a source for this nugget, apparently believing it to be true simply on logical grounds.

  • Perhaps he thought it was one of those "Well I never" anecdotes that would enliven his histories of Greece's wars against Persia.

  • Three.

  • Aristotle. [Women are incomplete men.]

  • Together with Plato, Aristotle was the most influential philosopher from antiquity.

  • He wrote on everything, from drama to animals.

  • But he did entertain some rather peculiar ideas about biology.

  • He saw men and women as completely different.

  • Men were hot and dry.

  • Women were cold and wet.

  • If reproduction happens properly, he thought, then the embryo should be male, like its father.

  • A daughter is the result of a man's semen being too weak to overpower a woman's reproductive matter.

  • Four.

  • "Women who see monkeys during intercourse, bear children who resemble monkeys." -Soranus.

  • A medical marvel from Soranus - a doctor of the Roman Empire.

  • His thinking is that you can inherit not just the physical characteristics of your parents, but even the thoughts they had when they were actually conceiving you.

  • Soranus thought it particularly important that a woman be sober during sex just in case she conceived a deranged child.

  • He also advised her against picturing monkeys or other animals in case the child came out looking like one.

  • Far better to picture a statue so that the child might have long graceful limbs, but hopefully not be too rigid and cold.

  • Five.

  • "Beware the fifth day of the month, it is dreadful" - Hesiod

  • In the 7th Century BC, a poet called Hesiod composed a poem on the farmer's year.

  • He believed that some days of the month were more suitable for some tasks than others, and endeavoured to give land owners the best possible advice.

  • Fifth days struck him as peculiarly threatening.

  • Hesiod's misgivings haven't stood the test of time.

  • But perhaps in the future people will look back on us and laugh for us finding Friday the 13th so unlucky.

  • Thanks for watching.

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  • See you again soon!

The Greeks and Romans gave us so much that it's little wonder we continue to sing their praises as great inventors, artists and writers.

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B1 US aristotle semen poet poem advice child

Some truly absurd ancient beliefs | BBC Ideas

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    Seraya posted on 2020/05/21
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