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date: 08 December 2023

chastity, pre-Christianlocked

chastity, pre-Christianlocked

  • Helen King


Chastity was not recommended in classical Greek *medicine before *Soranus. In pagan religion, certain goddesses chose to remain virgins (e.g. *Hestia/*Vesta,*Artemis/*Diana) and some priestesses—nor necessarily those serving virgin goddesses—remained life virgins. (e.g. Artemis Hymnia in Arcadia, Paus. 8.13.1) while others could only hold the position until the age of marriage (e.g. *Poseidon at *Calauria, Paus. 2. 33. 3). They did not support their other human followers who emulated this behaviour (e.g. *Euripides’ *Hippolytus (1)).In contrast to the Hippocratics (see hippocrates (2)) who believed a girl must be ‘opened up’ for the sake of her health, Soranus recommended perpetual virginity as positively healthful for both men and women (Gynaceceia 1. 30–2). These chapters were omitted in the Latin versions of his work compiled in late antiquity. He argued that desire harms the body, and loss of seed is damaging to health, while pregnancy and *childbirth exhaust the body.


  • Gender Studies

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