Hermaphroditism, surgical reconstruction of the anatomy of the gonads in ancient Greece as described by Diodorus Siculus (ca 80-20 BC)
Gregory Tsoucalas1, Despoina Kakagia2, Eleni Panagouli3, Anastasios Vasilopoulos1, Thomaidis Vasilios1, Aliki Fiska1
1History of Medicine, Anatomy Department, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece
2Plastic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Democritus University of Thrace, Alexandroupolis, Greece
3Anatomy Department, Medical School, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Athens, Greece
International Medicine 2019; 1(3): 153-158 | DOI: 10.5455/im.46935 PDF
Background: Ancient Greek medico-philosophers comprehended a series of genitalia disorders and were able to perform surgical operations for their correction. Although researchers believe that the first plastic surgery of pseudo-hermaphroditism was performed by Persians in 11th century AD, a series of intersex individual cases were reported in the work of the ancient Greek historian Diodorus Siculus.
Methods: Bibliographical study of Diodorus' treatises
Results: The report of a patient named Callo, who was raised as a female and was surgically transformed into a young male, was included in Diodorus' works. Diodorus described that the operation was performed surprisingly by a pharmacist, testifying the extent and depth of medical knowledge among ancient Greeks. The operation included cicatrization and placement of an artificial urethra in the non-perforated penis.
Conclusions: The operation was for the era an innovative procedure ahead of its time, a hallmark of cosmetic and plastic surgery.
Keywords: Greece, plastic surgery, pseudo-hermaphroditism