CAI Dublin Branch Lecture (Dr Elaine Pereira Farrell, 18th May, 7.30 p.m.)

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Classical Traditions in Medieval Handbooks on Female Healthcare (Dr Elaine Pereira Farrell, UCD Humanities Institute)

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A variety of texts on female healthcare were written during the Middle Ages, in different parts of Europe, both in Latin and in vernacular languages. These texts are, in general, somehow related to each other, and their compilers drew on Classical sources such the Hippocratic Diseases of Women or Soranus’ Gynaecology, and the contribution of the Arabic world has also long been acknowledged. The most well-known of these medieval compendiums is the twelve-century Italian Trotula of Salerno. Fourth-century Ireland also produced a manual, both in the vernacular and Latin re-writings of the text, based partly on a version of the Trotula, partly on the Rosa Anglica, another medical treatise, and partly on an unidentified text or texts. My aim with this lecture is to introduce the key Classical texts that influenced medieval female healthcare literature, to highlight some important medieval texts on the textual transmission, and to comment on the structure, scope and focus of the Irish handbook of gynaecology and obstetrics.

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