Ah, the infamous story of the aroph! What’s an aroph, you ask? Here’s what Wictionary says: (the word was not in my other dictionary!)
Etymology: Contraction of aroma philosophorum, from Latin.
Noun: aroph (uncountable)
Casanova concocted an aroph to help a frantic friend induce a miscarriage. Serious stuff, except the way Casanova told it in his memoirs, it was more of a farce! This episode of Quattro Minuti con Casanova takes place at the home of Giustiniana Wynne, the woman in question, though the aroph episode happened in Paris. I tell the story here:
When I first read Casanova’s memoirs, I laughed over this rather humorous episode. He seems to trick Giustiniana, though if C’s retelling is accurate, she willingly went along with the “joke.” Of course, can we trust his version?
I later read much more about Giustiniana Wynne, a brilliant and sensitive woman not given the opportunities until late in life to really dig into her writing career. She is credited by some scholars as having written the first, or at least a very early, Italian novel. She also wrote a smattering of poems, a book of sentimental essays, and a couple other books as well. I’ll have a complete chapter on her in my forthcoming book on Venetian women. I developed new respect for Giustiniana–but the aroph story is still pretty entertaining.