Greek Breasts were not just Aphrodite: Greek Medical Viewpoints of the Breasts


  • Elsa Garcia Novo Complutense University, Madrid


Breastfeeding, Woman milk , Breast ailments, Gynecomastia


  The Hippocratic corpus includes several treatises dealing with gynaecological diseases where ailments of the breast appear, mainly related to gravidity and lactation; breast is mentioned in individual patients as well. Some changes in the breast along pregnancy could foretell health, disease and death of the foetus. Galen considered the design of the vessels that nurture breast and uterus, a wonderful achievement of Nature. Both of them have their origin in the same veins and are useful to eliminate excess and purify the body. When menstruation stops because of gravidity, there remains an excess in the vessels that is accumulated as milk in the upper part of the body, because the embryo pushes the vessels upwards. The genesis of milk had been earlier studied by the Hippocratics, Aristotle and Soranus. Men breasts were also considered. Paulus of Aegina explained the problem of men with gynecomastia, and explained the ways to eliminate it.