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Physical appearance of a woman (1)

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05 Scientific knowledge and scholarly lore

No period specified
Jewish philosophers and scholars

In this passage the physiognomic features of the woman are examined from head to foot, employing similar kinds of descriptions of body parts as in the Akkadian omen literature, and shows a practical application of the physiognomic literature.

Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 66b:
A man once said to his wife: ‘I vow that you will not benefit from me (i.e. sexual intercourse), until you show something beautiful in yourself to R. Ishmael son of R. Jose.’ He said to them: ‘Perhaps her head is beautiful?’ ‘It is round,’ they replied. ‘Perhaps her hair is beautiful?’ ‘(It is) like stalks of flax.’ ‘Perhaps her eyes are beautiful?’ ‘They are bleared.’ ‘Perhaps her ears are beautiful?’ ‘They are folded over.’ ‘Perhaps her nose is beautiful?’ ‘It is obstructed.’ ‘Perhaps her lips are beautiful?’ ‘They are thick.’ ‘Perhaps her neck is beautiful?’ ‘It is stubby.’ ‘Perhaps her belly is beautiful?’ ‘It protrudes.’ ‘Perhaps her feet are beautiful?’ ‘They are as broad as those of a duck.’ ‘Perhaps her name is beautiful?’ ‘It is Liklukit.’ Said he to them: ‘It is appropriate that they call her Liklukit, since she is ugly because of her defects’; and so he ‘untied’ her (from her husband).

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Babylonian Talmud, Nedarim 66b


Geller 2001-2002, 72-73Geller, Mark J. “West Meets East. Early Greek and Babylonian Diagnosis.” Archiv für Orientforschung 48/49 (2001-2002) 50-75.

Amar Annus

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