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  • Writer's pictureJP Kenwood

Childbirth in ancient Rome

As part of writing the next chapter in Book 3 of the Dominus saga, I’ve happily (and, thank Fortuna, briefly!) stumbled down another research rabbit hole.

Childbirth. Not surprising, there’s much quality work posted online about having wee Roman babies. The primary ancient source discussing women’s “medicine,” a four volume treatise titled Gynaecology, was written by a physician who worked during Trajan’s reign — how convenient! Contemporary literary evidence makes me very happy.

And who was this male expert on the biological mysteries of women? A greek-born dude from Ephesus named Soranus. You might remember Gaius’s physician, Archigenes — he’s another fictionalized historical character in our story who was in fact a historical associate of good old Soranus. Our Archigenes will be back in Book 3. 😀

But babies are waiting to be born up in the Alban Hills. Here’s a link to a translation of a section in Soranus’ Gynaecology that deals with preparing for birth and delivering the child. Pull up your birthing chair:

And a photo of a well-preserved wooden cradle from Herculaneum. (source: Ancient Peoples on Tumblr)


JPK xoxo

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