Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Worlds Colliding - Greek Lesson of the Day

Unexpectedly, a lot of my classes this semester have occasional little facts that overlap. Mostly my Medieval Woman class overlaps with ideals from both my Rome class and my Greek Art and Archaeology class.

Today, I learned the word "hysteria" comes from the Greek word for uterus, usteros.

Why? Because women visiting the Sanctuary of Epidauros in the fourth century BCE with pregnancy or uterus problems were hysterical. The uterus was thought to be of malicious intent well into the middle ages. This was because of the basis that men created and wrote on bodies during this time, and in later classical centuries. Aromatic treatment, taken in through your nose or down there, was thought to move the uterus inside your body depending on whether you wanted it to go up or down - and yes, the uterus moved. With malicious intent.

The whole class had classic WTF looks upon their faces, while I laughed. Classes colliding can be hilarious.


  1. Also, did not Freud label one of the conditions he studied "hysteria"?

  2. I'm not sure, actually! I kind of role my eyes at Freud these days because he's a go-to mention for anyone who talks about theory and psych, but I don't know too much about his works that aren't related to fetishism or misogynistic things (that have been mentioned in other readings for my other classes). Either way, he was much later than the Greeks, but it wouldn't surprise me if he did - classical references are common throughout any type of history pertaining to the body.