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On Airs, Waters, And Places   


men these are the causes; but on that of the women, they are
embonpoint and humidity; for the womb cannot take in the semen, nor is
the menstrual discharge such as it should be, but scanty and at too
long intervals; and the mouth of the womb is shut up by fat and does
not admit the semen; and, moreover, they themselves are indolent and
fat, and their bellies cold and soft. From these causes the Scythian
race is not prolific. Their female servants furnish a strong proof
of this; for they no sooner have connection with a man than they prove
with child, owing to their active course of life and the slenderness
of body.
22. And, in addition to these, there are many eunuchs among the
Scythians, who perform female work, and speak like women. Such persons
are called effeminates. The inhabitants of the country attribute the
cause of their impotence to a god, and venerate and worship such
persons, every one dreading that the like might befall himself; but to
me it appears that such affections are just as much divine as all
others are, and that no one disease is either more divine or more
human than another, but that all are alike divine, for that each has
its own nature, and that no one arises without a natural cause. But
I will explain how I think that the affection takes its rise. From
continued exercise on horseback they are seized with chronic
defluxions in their joints owing to their legs always hanging down
below their horses; they afterwards become lame and stiff at the
hip-joint, such of them, at least, as are severely attacked with it.
They treat themselves in this way: when the disease is commencing,
they open the vein behind either ear, and when the blood flows, sleep,
from feebleness, seizes them, and afterwards they awaken, some in good
health and others not. To me it appears that the semen is altered by
this treatment, for there are veins behind the ears which, if cut,
induce impotence; now, these veins would appear to me to be cut.
Such persons afterwards, when they go in to women and cannot have
connection with them, at first do not think much about it, but
remain quiet; but when, after making the attempt two, three, or more
times, they succeed no better, fancying they have committed some
offence against the god whom they blame for the affection, they put on
female attire, reproach themselves for effeminacy, play the part of
women, and perform the same work as women do. This the rich among
the Scythians endure, not the basest, but the most noble and powerful,
owing to their riding on horseback; for the poor are less affected, as
they do not ride on horses. And yet, if this disease had been more
divine than the others, it ought not to have befallen the most noble
and the richest of the Scythians alone, but all alike, or rather those
who have little, as not being able to pay honors to the gods, if,
indeed, they delight in being thus rewarded by men, and grant favors
in return; for it is likely that the rich sacrifice more to the
gods, and dedicate more votive offerings, inasmuch as they have
wealth, and worship the gods; whereas the poor, from want, do less
in this way, and, moreover, upbraid the gods for not giving them
wealth, so that those who have few possessions were more likely to
bear the punishments of these offences than the rich. But, as I
formerly said, these affections are divine just as much as others, for
each springs from a natural cause, and this disease arises among the
Scythians from such a cause as I have stated. But it attacks other men
in like manner, for whenever men ride much and very frequently on
horseback, then many are affected with rheums in the joints, sciatica,
and gout, and they are inept at venery. But these complaints befall
the Scythians, and they are the most impotent of men for the aforesaid
causes, and because they always wear breeches, and spend the most of
their time on horseback, so as not to touch their privy parts with the
hands, and from the cold and fatigue they forget the sexual desire,
and do not make the attempt until after they have lost their virility.
Thus it is with the race of the Scythians.
23. The other races in Europe differ from one another, both as to
stature and shape, owing to the changes of the seasons, which are very

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