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.”

As the saying goes, an old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned in a proverb.

—Chinua Achebe, 1958