AGNODIKI's inspiring story



AGNODIKI from Athens became the first female physician in ancient Greece, at a time when women were not allowed to practice medicine.  


Back then, pregnant women had two choices when giving birth: to get help from a male physician, or to give birth without professional help. Most preferred the second choice, because they were ashamed. As a consequence the mortality of new-borns and young mothers was very high.

AGNODIKI felt it was time to change that. She dressed up like a man, travelled to Alexandria and studied medicine under Irofilos (Herofilos), a famous physician in the ancient world. AGNODIKI returned to Athens and started working as an obstetrician. She revealed secretly her gender to pregnant women, who accepted her services with alleviation.

She was very successful, however, her male colleagues became suspicious and took her to court. She was accused of having unethical relationships with her customers. To avoid conviction for being immoral, AGNODIKI revealed her gender in public, however, she was charged for breaking the law regarding the practice of medicine. 

Fortunately, her request for a second trial was accepted. During the second trial she was found not guilty. On top of that, the law was changed and allowed women to practice medicine from there-off. 

SOURCE: K. Georgakopoulos. Ancient Greece: Ancient Greek Physicians. 1998 Editions IASO. 


Copyright © 2016 Maria Niki Aigyptiadou. 

If you wish to use this material for personal or educational use, feel free to do so and please cite as follows: Maria Niki K. Aigyptiadou. Agnodiki's story., accessed on (date). 

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