January 19th, 2009

Medieval eye treatment for perforation

My story is set in your standard fantasy pseudo-medieval period. Although there is some of what might be called magic in the world, none of it is available to our heroes, who are in the middle of the wilderness. One of the male leads sustains a serious scratch across the face/eye after an encounter with a shapeshifter in a catlike form. The deepness of the wound is negotiable, but he loses vision in that eye from it. Other than vision loss and the associated adjustments it requires, there should be minimal side effects.

The question is, how would it be treated?

On the extreme end, the eye may need to be removed altogether. In addition to common terms I've tried searching for enucleation and evisceration, historical and medieval, and although plenty of articles mentioned that it existed (I've seen several mentions of it in ancient Egypt/China, and that there was a Chinese god "devoted to the profession of ocularists") but little about what procedures might be used. Searching for procedures or treatment often gives only a mention of the history in an article largely about modern procedure. Supposing they just hack/spoon the eye out, what options are there for preventing infection or closing the wound? Some sort of alcohol seems likely for cleaning; would mead work, since honey is also supposed to have antiseptic properties? And should they just stitch the eyelid shut in that case?

It sounds somewhat easier for the scratch to be just deep enough to cause a loss of vision, but not so much that the eye is totally destroyed and needs to be removed to prevent infection - although infection seems to be likely enough even with a scratch. Again, most information I was able to find on this was modern, or related to eye infections (cat scratch fever can manifest in an eye infection, which makes searching on those terms virtually useless) . If there was some way of disinfecting the wound (again, suggestions are welcome - I'd prefer to use a historical remedy, herbal or otherwise), would anything else need to be done to the eye itself to prevent other major complications aside from vision loss?

Population Statistics

A long time ago I found a page which had lists of the numbers of people in specific professions per population (example: 1 midwife per 500 citizens, although I don't think this is the right number). The population numbers were based on (fictional) medieval times (no, nothing more specific than that).

(okay, upon further googling, it's this.

This was helpful to me at the time, but now I have a more specific situation.

Imagine you've got about 100 'people' in a community. They have the ability to use magic (as in, healing scrapes and cuts, small feats of telekinesis, and (for lack of a better word) some types of transfiguration). They can go two or three days without eating, easily, so their food needs are lower than normal humans. They don't cultivate anything; they get all the food they need from the forest around them. Their clothing is a mixture of animal skins and what would correspond to linen - they've got the technology for weaving, but they also use furs and leather. Children are uncommon; maybe one or two a year.

So... what am I looking at in terms of specialization? I'm assuming that those who are specialized (say, someone corresponding to a doctor) would normally spend most of their time acting as any other member of the community. Meaning my imaginary doctor wouldn't sit around waiting for sick people.

If it helps any, the setting corresponds to the early 1800's, however, the people in this community don't interact with the outside world very much.

I have this sinking feeling that this is confusing, but if it is, just ask a few questions and I'll be happy to help.

ETA: I love this community. Thanks guys :D

Everyday Life of a Roman Lictor circa 1st century AD

Googled: lictors rome, lictors ancient rome, where were lictors housed in ancient rome.

I've just joined an RPG group set loosely in that time period. In other words, although historical accuracy is good, I'm not really that concerned if I'm off by a century or so either way, or if my setup is better suited to the provinces than Rome proper.

Basically, my character is the primus lictor to a Roman praetor. I'm wondering

1) What sort of living arrangements are appropriate? Does he have a room within the Praetor's villa/palace? Barracks on the grounds? His own house nearby? Would he share quarters with the other lictors? How many rooms?

2) How many slaves would he normally have? Where would they be housed? Or would the Praetor have assigned some of his own to my lictor?

3) Circa 1st century AD, what would a reasonable slave price be for a youth of 16 or so, with some education and the skills of a scribe? (His father died penniless with huge debts and the creditors carried off the goods and sold the boy into slavery.) If it matters, this isn't in Rome proper but in a fictional city about two days ride from the capital.


regarding sketchy bits of Whitechapel, London, England.

I come bearing a question that has the potential to be too nitpicky even for Little Details ... Good lord I hope it isn't.

This isn't really a Google-able thing - I've asked a couple of my friends who have been to London for references, but neither of them ever spent much time in the area I'm concerned with. I have a character who leaves a friend's flat, turns left, and after approximately twenty minutes or so, arrives in one of the seedier areas of Whitechapel (as in London, England). It's not intentional - just because he has absolutely zero knowledge of the city and is essentially wandering at random. So my question is in two parts:

1) What would be a logical place for me to put the friend's flat so that it fell about twenty minutes away from a seedy part of Whitechapel;
2) Where would a seedy part of Whitechapel be, exactly (if possible, a street name would be preferable)?

Church of England Questions

All right, here's the basic rundown (from an American atheist, if something I say seems appallingly ignorant):

* What's the lowest-ranking member of the clergy that could reasonably be expected to give regular-ish (say, twice monthly) services at an Anglican cathedral?
* How centralized are Anglican services?
* What do you need to do to get into the priesthood? How long does it take? Is there a bottom age limit?

And, not strictly essential, but just for fun:
* Are Anglicans as into the grandiose classical music as Catholics?