screw the speculum

nursemyra is always on the lookout for instruments of torture medical instruments. whilst grateful to be living in an era of advanced technology, I have a deep appreciation for the fine craftsmanship of earlier tools such as those featured here

however this speculum does bear more than a passing resemblance to a corkscrew opener.


One of the most spectacular, if fearsome looking, Roman medical instruments is the vaginal dilator or speculum (dioptra). It comprises a priapiscus with 2 (or sometimes 3 or 4) dovetailing valves which are opened and closed by a handle with a screw mechanism. Soranus is the first author who makes mention of the speculum specially made for the vagina.

I’m tempted to speculate that the followers of Soranus may have mistakenly used it to dilate another orifice.

Published in: on April 30, 2007 at 10:26 am  Comments (9)  

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9 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. The TG is always telling me to put a cork in it – I’m very confused now.

  2. did you mean to type ‘cork’?

    or was that ‘r’ a typo?

    TG is a woman of needs. I hope you’re not holding out on her

  3. How apt that Soranus should be from the ‘Greek’ school, too…

    Now that’s one scary looking instrument. A Turn of That Screw would send a shudder through any sentient man’s being.

  4. That puts an entirely new spin on that song from “Sweet Charity” – – –

    “I don’t pop my cork for every guy I see…”

  5. Ah, Nurse, I see there was a typo in the Hero True Colors comments – you meant ‘prise’ . . . .

  6. BB: hadn’t noticed, but you’re right, very apt indeed

    Archie: I see you know your musicals 😉

    FFF: now, now, only certain people are allowed to accuse nursemyra of typos and you won’t be one of them unless you come to australia to claim your ‘prize’

  7. This design would later be used in Medieval Times for the torture device known as The Pear.

  8. oh wow. I think that museum houses the most diabolical instruments I’ve ever seen. It’s horrific.

  9. Then, obviously, you’ve never been to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, m’dear . . . .

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