10 Historical Facts About Ancient Greece That Will Make You Blush

Philosophers, ancient buildings, and mythology are the first things that pop up in our mind when we think of ancient Greece. However, the people there were not all about abstract matters, and they did some pretty crazy stuff that could easily make a modern person blush deeply.

WeGoRo found 10 staggering facts about the ancient Greeks that we are sure you’ve never heard of.

1. Doctors tasted earwax to get an idea of a disease.

Well, the basic symptoms were enough to make a diagnosis, but tasting a patient’s earwax was a common practice among many doctors. They believed that all body fluids had a specific taste, and a change might indicate some kind of disease. So if you were a patient in ancient Greece, the doctor would most likely stick his finger in your ear and taste your earwax. And let’s not talk about the other body fluids.

2. Athletes’ sweat was used to ease muscle tension.

Before exercising in the gymnasium, athletes covered themselves in olive oil. The oil was scraped off along with sweat and dust with the help of special metal scrapers. This mixture was poured into bottles and later sold for medical purposes such as curing muscle tension. The mix flew off the shelves.

3. Dirt was used for women’s health.

The Greeks believed that women were excessively susceptible to impurity and pollution. That’s why very unappealing methods were used to cure them. For example, in case of miscarriage, a woman had to drink a mix of wine and fried mule’s excreta. It’s interesting to note that there was no such susceptibility among men.

4. Women sneezed to avoid pregnancy.

According to common belief, to prevent pregnancy a woman had to... sneeze immediately after sex. As you can guess, the method was quite useless. Another method was to rub a paste made of pine resin and honey on the genitals. However, this didn’t help if lovers still wanted to do it after the above-mentioned procedures.

5. Rocks and sponges were used instead of toilet paper.

No one used toilet paper back then because they didn’t have any. But a body had needs, and they had to tidy it up with the help of stones and rounded fragments of ceramics. The Greeks were also very frugal and said, "3 stones are enough to wipe." People with money had a better option: a sponge fixed to a stick.

6. Bodies were pinned in graves with rocks so the undead wouldn’t rise from their graves.

In some ancient Greek graves, archaeologists found rocks and fragments of amphora on hands, feet, and heads, pinning the dead into their tombs. Despite the fact that the Greeks themselves were at the origin of rational thinking, they had their own prejudices and fears. Like in this case: the fear of zombies made them put rocks on the dead so they wouldn’t rise from their graves.

7. Men with small genitals were considered to be very attractive.

Ancient Greece had its own male beauty standards. The statues, temple frescoes, and art on vases portray heroes, gods, and athletes as strong, fit, hairless men with quite small genitals. The satyrs, on the other hand, look more like savages and ugly old men with quite impressive male organs. A big penis was considered to be vulgar and unattractive.

8. Athletes in gymnasiums exercised naked.

In Greek gymnasiums, people didn’t have any uniform and had to do all their exercises naked. Those who were ashamed of their bodies were severely reprimanded and associated with barbarian ways of thinking.

9. Throwing an apple to a girl = saying you love her.

Modern ways of expressing feelings for a woman are pretty simple: you can give her flowers or tasty chocolates. The ancient Greeks were a bit more straightforward: they threw an apple at the girl they liked. This weird act could also mean a marriage proposal.

10. A blurred unibrow was a symbol of female sexuality.

If you want somebody to throw an apple at you, you should at least follow the latest fashion trends. One of them was blurred eyebrows. In ancient Greece, a woman with this beauty feature was considered to be very attractive, and her eyebrows were the object of jealousy among other women. Those with thin eyebrows had to blacken their eyebrows or stick on a piece of animal fur with glue.

Preview photo credit britishmuseum.org