Detail of the center panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych, by Hieronymous Bosch, c. 1500. © Prado, Madrid / Bridgeman Images.


Volume IX, Number 4 | fall 2016


A Babylonian medical handbook dating to 1700 BC offers a renal diagnostic that reads, “If his urine is like ass urine, that man suffers from ‘discharge.’” Other alarming symptoms of discharge: if his urine is “like beer dregs,” “like wine dregs,” or “like clear paint.”

Shame on the soul, to falter on the road of life while the body still perseveres.

—Marcus Aurelius, c. 170



Alfresco Gender Reveals


An outdoor gender-reveal party in California sparks a wildfire.

1500 BC:

Ancient Egyptian women visit a field of grain daily to determine their babies’ gender.



The World in Time

Richard Kreitner

Lewis H. Lapham speaks with the author of Break It Up: Secession, Division, and the Secret History of America’s Imperfect Union. More