As we work our way through material for Time of Troubles, we are struck by many things, such as the rampant economics imperialism of the last couple of decades, or the assumption that the ‘economy’ refers only to commercial activity and that agriculture is for some strange reason not an economic activity. But the other day, I was struck by another question: why did female slaves not tend to work the fields in ancient Greece and Rome? It may have something to do with the following assumptions, shared by all classes in these ancient societies. For example, as Ste. Croix points out, it was believed that if a menstruating woman touched a rue shrub it would wither. If she even glanced at young cucumber shoots, they would immediately die. On the other hand, such special properties may have been put to good use, for it was also believed that a menstruating woman could kill caterpillars by walling around the endangered plant three times with loose hair. Then again, the risk of collateral damage may have been too great.

 

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