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Gesnerus. 2013;70(2):260-91.

[Menstrual blood and human milk. Reflections and new proposals on breast-feeding in ancient Greece].

[Article in Italian]

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Université de Fribourg, Institut des sciences de l'Antiquité et du monde byzantin, Rue Pierre-Aeby 16, CH-1700 Fribourg.


Within a larger study on breast-feeding in ancient Greece, we dwelt on four subjects (the superstitions concerning menstrual blood, milk and dairy products consumption by the Athenians, different kinds of milk and beliefs related to the transmission of hereditary characteristics through human milk, the connection between milk, breast and madness) on which we have identified a certain number of neglected sources. Starting from these, we can gain not only some mosaic tiles of the overall fragmentary view on habits and beliefs about breast-feeding, but also, more generally, helpful hints on some aspects of the Greek world and mentality that we barely know. In attempting to reach some general conclusions, we have also considered the iconographic sources, trying to explain, in part at least, the reason for the almost complete absence of scenes of breast-feeding in the archaic and classical art.

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