Traditionally, from antiquity to modern age, women made important contributions to practical medicine, when events such as birth, death, and illness happened at home, where they lived and worked. In addition to childbirth, which generally happened in a female context and was their main function, socially recognised, they took care of raising babies, breastfeeding them and preparing food for everyone in the family, cultivating and collecting plants, including medical ones, with which to treat the sick members, and to ensure assistance to children as well as to elders. However, women almost never wrote on medicine until the twentieth century, whereas male doctors were authors of medical works even on gynaecology, and directly or indirectly healed women in some cases. This paper tries to reconstruct the relationship between the male doctor and the female patient from the story of the Greek doctor Democedes and the Persian queen Atossa, narrated by Herodotus, and from subsequent texts of medical literature in the ancient world. Moreover, it highlights how the values involved in that relationship influenced the deontological rules in the Hippocratic Oath, in particular the respect of the patient and the so-called professional secrecy.
Women, Ancient Medicine, and the Hippocratic Oath / Fortuna, Stefania. - STAMPA. - (2022), pp. 27-41.