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Medicine and Anatomy

362. Side effects of menstruation. Rome, 1st cent. A.D. (Pliny the Elder, Natural History 28.23, exc. L)

A sampling of the phenomena recorded by Pliny caused by menstrual fluid and menstruating women.

Terrible things are told about the monstrous power of menses, whose magic I have already discussed,[1] of which I can repeat the following without embarrassment: if the female force begins to flow in a solar or lunar eclipse the harm will be irremediable, and even if there is no moon, and sexual intercourse is pestiferous or fatal to the man; purple is contaminated by menstruating women, so much the greater is their force. But at other times during the menstrual period, if the women walk naked through a field, worms, beetles, and other pests fall down. Metrodorus of Scepsis says that this was discovered in Cappadocia during an infestation of cantharid beetles,[2] so women walk through the fields with their dresses hiked up above their buttocks.


Notes:

1. At 7.64.

2. See above, number 346.