Aorgiston

poster-the-wet-nurse-c1802-307924
Marguerite Gérard, La Nourrice (1802)

This is part 3 of 3. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

“Σώφρονα δέ”, πρὸς τὸ συνουσίας ἀπέχεσθαι καὶ μέθης καὶ λαγνείας καὶ τῆς ἄλλης ἡδονῆς καὶ ἀκρασίας, αἱ συνουσίαι μὲν γὰρ μετὰ τοῦ τὴν πρὸς <τὸ> τρεφόμενον φιλοστοργίαν ἀποψύχειν περισπασμῷ τῆς ἐκ τῶν ἀφροδισίων ἡδονῆς ἔτι καὶ φθείρουσι τὸ γάλα καὶ μειοῦσιν ἢ τελείως ἀφανίζουσιν, τὰς διὰ τῆς μήτρας ἐρεθίζουσαι καθάρσεις ἢ συλλήψεις ἀποτελοῦσαι. διὰ δὲ τὰς μέθας πρῶτον μὲν ἡ γαλουχοῦσα βλάπτεται καὶ τῇ ψυχῇ καὶ τῷ σώματι, διὰ τοῦτο δὲ καὶ τὸ γάλα διαφθείρει· δεύτερον δὲ ὕπνῳ δυσδιεγέρτῳ κατεχομένη καταλείπει τὸ βρέφος ἀνεπιμέλητον ἢ καὶ κινδυνωδῶς ἐπ’ αὐτῷ καταπίπτει· τρίτον ἡ τοῦ πλείονος οἴνου ποιότης συναναδίδοται τῷ γάλακτι, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο νωθρὰ καὶ καρώδη, ποτὲ δὲ καὶ ἔντρομα καὶ ἀπόπληκτα καὶ σπασμώδη τὰ τρεφόμενα γίνονται βρέφη, καθάπερ συὸς τρύγα προσενεγκαμένης καροῦται καὶ σκοτοῦται τὰ γαλουχούμενα. “συμπαθῆ” δὲ καὶ φιλόστοργον, ἵνα καὶ τὰ τῆς ὑπηρεσίας ἀόκνως παρέχῃ καὶ ἀγογγύστως. ἔνιαι γὰρ οὕτως ἔχουσιν ἀπαθῶς πρὸς τὸ γαλουχούμενον, ὥστε μηδὲ ἐπὶ πολὺ κλαυθμυρίζοντος αὐτοῦ ποιήσασθαι πρόνοιαν, ἀλλὰ μηδὲ σχηματίσαι τὸ κείμενον, ἐᾶσαι δ’ ἐφ’ ἑνὸς σχήματος, ὥστε πολλάκις διὰ τὴν θλίψιν προκακοπαθοῦν ναρκᾶν τε καὶ φαύλως διατίθεσθαι τὸ νευρῶδες. “ἀόργιστον δέ”, ὅτι φύσει συνεξομοιοῦται τὰ τρεφόμενα ταῖς τρεφούσαις καὶ διὰ τοῦτο βαρύθυμα μὲν ἐξ ὀργίλων, ἐπιεικῆ δὲ ἐκ μετρίων γίνεται· καὶ ἄλλως μανιώδεις εἰσὶν αἱ θυμούμεναι καὶ φόβῳ κλαυθμυρίζον ποτὲ τὸ βρέφος ἐπισχεῖν μὴ δυνάμεναι ῥίπτουσιν ἐκ τῶν χειρῶν ἢ καταστρέφουσιν ἐπικινδύνως. διόπερ οὐδὲ δειειδαίμονα δεῖ καὶ θεοφόρητον εἶναι τὴν γαλοῦχον, ἵνα μὴ παραλογισθεῖσά ποτε καὶ μανιωδῶς σαλευθεῖσα κινδύνῳ τὸ βρέφος περιβάλῃ. καθάριον δὲ δεῖ εἶναι τὴν τιτθήν, ἵνα μὴ διὰ τὴν τῶν σπαργάνων ὀσμὴν ὁ στόμαχος ἐκλύηται τῶν νηπίων ἀγρυπνῇ τε διὰ τοὺς ὀδαξησμοὺς ἤ τιν’ ὕστερον ἕλκωσιν ὑπομένῃ. Ἑλληνίδα δέ, χάριν τοῦ τῇ καλλίστῃ διαλέκτῳ ἐθισθῆναι τὸ τρεφόμενον ὑπ’ αὐτῆς.
(Soranus, Gunaikeia 2.12(32))

And the wet nurse should be “self-controlled” so as to abstain from coitus, drinking, lewdness, and any other such pleasure and incontinence. For coitus cools the affection toward <the> nursling by the diversion of sexual pleasure and moreover spoils and diminishes the milk or suppresses it entirely by stimulating menstrual catharsis through the uterus or by bringing about conception. In regard to drinking, first the wet nurse is harmed in soul as well as in body and for this reason the milk also is spoiled. Secondly, seized by a sleep from which she is hard to awaken, she leaves the newborn untended or even falls down upon it in a dangerous way. Thirdly, too much wine passes its quality to the milk and therefore the nursling becomes sluggish and comatose and sometimes even afflicted with tremor, apoplexy, and convulsions, just as suckling pigs become comatose and stupefied when the sow has eaten dregs. ”Sympathetic” and affectionate, that she may fulfill her duties without hesitation and without murmuring. For some wet nurses are so lacking in sympathy towards the nursling that they not only pay no heed when it cries for a long time, but do not even arrange its position when it lies still; rather, they leave it in one position so that often because of the pressure the sinewy parts* suffer and consequently become numb and bad. “And not ill-tempered”: since by nature the nursling becomes similar to the nurse and accordingly grows sullen if the nurse is ill-tempered, but of mild disposition if she is even-tempered. Besides, angry women are like maniacs and sometimes when the newborn cries from fear and they are unable to restrain it, they let it drop from their hands or overturn it dangerously. For the same reason the wet nurse should not be superstitious and prone to ecstatic states so that she may not expose the infant to danger when led astray by fallacious reasoning, sometimes even trembling like mad. And the wet nurse should be tidy-minded lest the odor of the swaddling clothes cause the child’s stomach to become weak and it lie awake on account of itching or suffer some ulceration subsequently. And she should be a Greek so that the infant nursed by her may become accustomed to the best speech.

*  The Greek term neurodes probably here refers to nerves, tendons, and ligaments alike.

(tr. Owsei Temkin, with his note)

2 thoughts on “Aorgiston”

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