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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.
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Some truly absurd ancient beliefs | BBC Ideas

34 Folder Collection
Seraya published on May 21, 2020    gahui yu translated    Evangeline reviewed
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