Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why Is The Heart The Symbol Of Love?

011, originally uploaded by polycrystal.

There are plenty of myths as to why the heart is the symbol of Valentine's Day, but I really like this piece that talks about how in ancient Greece, women used to eat from the silphium plant as a form of birth control.

The plant is now extinct, but apparently it was almost 100% effective and allowed the Greeks to enjoy unfettered lovemaking.

From the piece:
"Unlike many other medicines of its time, silphium was not thought of as a mere folk remedy; Scholars and doctors of the day openly praised the plant's effectiveness as a contraceptive. Ancient Rome's foremost gynecologist– a physician named Soranus– wrote that women should drink the silphium juice with water once a month since "it not only prevents conception but also destroys anything existing." ...Rome's birth rate decreased considerably despite increasing life expectancy, plentiful food, and relatively few wars or epidemics, and some historians cite this as evidence of the herb's effectiveness."