c.79AD: Menstrual blood doubles as handy pesticide

Pliny the Elder, writing in the 1st century AD, lists the manifold dangers of menstrual blood – which can spoil meat, sour wine, dull sharp knives and send tame dogs mad. He also warns that men will die if they copulate with a menstruating woman during an eclipse:

“If the menstrual discharge coincides with an eclipse of the moon or sun, the evils resulting from it are irremediableā€¦ the congress with a woman [is] noxious [and will have] fatal effects for the man.”

Pliny does suggest harnessing menstruation for practical ends, such as eradicating pests from food crops:

“If a woman strips herself naked while she is menstruating and walks round a field, the caterpillars, worms, beetles and other vermin will fall from off the ears of corn… This discovery was first made in Cappadocia [where] it is the practice for women to walk through the middle of the fields with their garments tucked above the thighs.”

Source: Pliny the Elder, Natural History, c.79AD. Content on this page is © Alpha History 2016. Content may not be republished without our express permission. For more information please refer to our Terms of Use or contact Alpha History.

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