This dissertation provides a new critical edition of Mustio’s Gynaecia, the first since Valentin Rose’s 1882 volume for the Teubner series. It is accompanied by a facing page translation, the first in English, and related commentary. Introductory material locates the text and its author within the history of women’s medicine, including a discussion of extant sources and transmission of the work.
Written in Latin sometime in the fifth or sixth century CE, the Gynaecia covers the topics of obstetrics, paediatrics and gynaecology. Its author, the otherwise unknown Mustio, concedes to his audience that he is re-using older Greek material, but stresses that he is going to rework the content into a novel format suitable for midwives with limited formal education. In fact, he sets a good part of the work into a basic question-and-answer format that is ideal for rote memorization, making it a practical training tool for women whose level of literacy might be rudimentary.
It is generally believed that Soranus, the greatest exponent of the Methodist school of medicine at Rome, is the source for the Greek material, via the work commonly known as the Gynaecology. It has also been argued that Soranus wrote (at least) two versions of the Gynaecology, a full version and an abridged one set in a question-and-answer format, and that it is the latter shorter version that Mustio bases his work upon. I challenge both the idea that Mustio inherited the question-and-answer format from Soranus, and the notion that Soranus wrote several versions of the Gynaecology. I argue, rather, that while Mustio may not have ‘invented’ the question-and-answer-format, his adaptation of it as a catechetic instructional tool for women was indeed innovative. I also question the traditional connection between Mustio’s work and the Gynaecology of Soranus, and suggest alternative readings for the Cateperotiana and the Triacontas which scholarship has thus far interpreted as catechetic and non-catechetic versions by Soranus of his own material from the Gynaecology.
In terms of stylistic method, subject matter and intended audience, this a unique text in ancient writing, yet one that has attracted little modern research.