Who Keeps Women’s Secrets?

Mistaking histories

First Secret Entrusted to Venus, François Jouffroy (1839)

“Do you want to know a secret?”

When I was at school, there were various other pupils who would pose this question in some corner of the playground at break times. Often, the secret turned out to be something I knew already, or something I didn’t find very interesting, but for these children knowledge was power, and the language of secrecy was intended to set up a special bond in which they would impart the secret to an audience which was then supposed to see itself as privileged. Secret codes, secret files, secret societies, conspiracy theories … for both children and adults, the secret still has power.

Questions remain for historians about who knew what, and who told what to whom, surrounding knowledge of the body, particularly the reproductive body, in the ancient Mediterranean. Who knew, or claimed to know, about how…

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Who Keeps Women’s Secrets?

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