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Ancient Roman Views on Conception II

While the Romans believed in the double-seed theory (both parents contributed semen to produce a child), there were different interpretations of this concept. In this article, you will learn more about these theories, as well as ancient thoughts on the early stages of pregnancy.

Hippocrates was an ancient Greek physician who lived during the Age of Pericles (also known as the Classical Athens time period). He felt that if both parents produced strong sperm, then the child would be a male. However, if they both produced weak semen, then a female child was born. If one parent produced strong sperm and the other weak, then the gender of the child was determined by the livelier of the sperm.

Lucretius was a Roman poet and philosopher who wrote ‘On the Nature of Things’ and also had views regarding conception and childbirth during his day. He once stated, “When the male seed and the female seed are fused, one partner may be dominant, overpower the other in a burst of violence. If this should be the woman then the child shall have her features and qualities. The same if the man assumes the role of dominance, the children will be more like the father.”

The time of the month and whether a menstrual flow was present also viewed as playing a role in the conception of a child. If a woman’s menstrual flow stopped, it seemed that these days proved beneficial for conceiving a child. If conception did not happen quickly (and she was in good health otherwise), it is said that her passages are most open when not experiencing a menstrual flow. If the man ejaculates and runs directly into the woman, then some Romans believed she would conceive a child. People following the word of Hippocrates recognized that the time of the month was significant in influencing conception.

The sex of the child was also a topic of physicians and philosophers. Hippocrates believed that the intensity and passion associated with a session of lovemaking would help determine whether a boy or girl would be born. Other Romans followed this line of thinking. It was thought that the heat and pleasure that accompanied sexual intercourse affected the inside of the female body.
When sperm enters the equation, conception is made possible. As for the sex of the child, Galen believed that the increasingly warmer temperature of the right ovary and right testicle would produce warmer sperm. The result was that the male semen would create a male child.

In ancient times, there were many different views regarding pregnancy and the conception of a child. There are also texts that the Romans have left behind that describe and explore their views on the different stages of pregnancy. To learn more about their views and beliefs, read the article titled, ” Stages of Pregnancy , According to Ancient Romans.”