Monthly Archives: July 2011

What do You Mean There are Three Genders??

31 July 2011

When I was in college, I wrote my thesis about enforcing clerical celibacy during the beginning of the Church to the 13th century (so you may see many postings about this topic). While I was doing research for my paper I read many great books (25 if I remember correctly), but there were a few that were my favorite as they contained the most interesting information that I had ever read. One of these snippets of knowledge that I gathered was that medieval people considered there to be three types of genders from Ruth Karras’ book (Sources).

As odd as it sounds, that is what they believed. Medieval people thought there were three: masculine, feminine, and chaste. Men played the active (masculine) role and women played the passive (feminine) role. The chaste category were those who gave up their want (desire) to have sex to live a life of devotion to God, so these included monks, nuns, sisters, and priests.

In medieval society sex and gender were intertwined so those who did not have a part to play in sex, either the masculine or feminine roles, were considered something else. Those who were chaste did not have any role to play as they were celibate (did not have sex). They thought there were three types of genders, because of the sexual roles that those individuals played.


Off to the Dentist…After some Urine Mouthwash of Course

27 July 2011

Earlier today I had to go see the dentist, which I do not mind, but I have a history of getting cavities. When the dentist examined my x-rays, I was anxious to hear what he said, because I was hoping for no cavities. I was relieved to hear him say, “Everything looks great,” (yes!!). Then, a second later I hear “Oh I might have spoken too soon,” (damnit!!). I do not have a cavity, but I have to watch a spot on my teeth.

My experience got me thinking about what it was like in Roman for people who had bad teeth. If I was in ancient Rome, would my mouth be filled with black and missing teeth? I discovered it most likely would. I could have an abscess or two as well with lots of cavities. I found this in a book I am reading by J.C. McKeown (check out the sources page) and had to share.

Bad and Fake teeth were common in ancient Rome so people did what they could to brighten and clean their teeth. Some used pastes, crude toothbrushes, and some used urine as mouthwash. Yep, Catullus has a poem that mentions a rival’s white smile is from the Spanish urine that he washed his teeth with. Supposedly, the ammonia in urine is what helped clean the mouth and the more concentrated the better. Most urine in Rome was gathered and used for cleaning laundry (that is true too) so they imported some, from Spain.


Hello world!

26 July 2011

I love ancient history and pursued the knowledge that interested me. So I took classes about prehistory, ancient history, and medieval history (can you tell where my interests lie?) and loved every second of it. I want to be fluent in another language, like Latin or German.

I have never understood why so many people turn a blind eye to history just because it is old and “useless” when in fact it can by quite an interesting area to discuss. By discuss I do not mean ‘what do you think about the interpretation from the findings of so and so.’ I mean ‘did you know that the Catholic Church allowed priests and clergy to marry for 700 years and did not prohibit it until the 11th and 13th centuries’ and ‘the Ancient Egyptians practices brain surgery.’

This blog will be about the fun and interesting facts about history from the evolution of our species to the medieval period. I hope you will enjoy it.