Antiqui obstetrices non habuerunt, unde mulieres verecundia ductae interierant; nam Athenienses caverant ne quis servus aut femina artem medicinam disceret. Hagnodice quaedam puella virgo concupivit medicinam discere; quae cum concupisset, demptis capillis habitu virili se Herophilo cuidam tradidit in disciplinam. quae cum artem didicisset, et feminam laborantem audisset ab inferiore parte, veniebat ad eam. quae cum credere se noluisset, aestimans virum esse, illa tunica sublata ostendit se feminam esse, et ita eas curabat. quod cum vidissent medici se ad feminas non admitti, Hagnodicen accusare coeperunt, quod dicerunt eum glabrum esse et corruptorem earum, et illas simulare imbecillitatem. quod cum Areopagitae consedissent, Hagnodicen damnare coeperunt; quibus Hagnodice tunicam allevavit et se ostendit feminam esse, et validius medici accusare coeperunt, quare tum feminae principes ad iudicium venerunt et dixerunt: “vos coniuges non estis sed hostes, quia quae salutem nobis invenit, eam damnatis.” tunc Athenienses legem emendarunt, ut ingenuae arte medicinam discerent.
(Hyginus, Fab. 274)

The ancients didn’t have obstetricians, and as a result, women because of modesty perished. For the Athenians forbade slaves and women to learn the art of medicine. A certain girl, Hagnodice, a virgin desired to learn medicine, and since she desired it, she cut her hair, and in male attire came to a certain Herophilus for training. When she had learned the art, and had heard that a woman was in labor, she came to her. And when the woman refused to trust herself to her, thinking that she was a man, she removed her garment to show that she was a woman, and in this way she treated women. When the doctors saw that they were not admitted to women, they began to accuse Hagnodice, saying that “he” was a seducer and corruptor of women, and that the women were pretending to be ill. The Areopagites, in session, started to condemn Hagnodice, but Hagnodice removed her garment for them and showed that she was a woman. Then the doctors began to accuse her more vigorously, and as a result the leading women came to the Court and said: “You are not husbands, but enemies, because you condemn her who discovered safety for us.” Then the Athenians amended the law, so that free-born women could learn the art of medicine. (tr. Mary Grant)

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