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date: 01 March 2024



  • Robert Garland


In Greece the decision whether to raise a child normally rested with the father except in *Sparta where ‘elders of the tribes’ were required to pronounce upon its fitness to live (Plut.Lyc. 16. 1). In Rome a law attributed to Romulus allegedly required all parents to ‘bring up all their male offspring and the first-born of the girls’ (Dion. Hal.Ant. Rom. 2. 15. 1). The exposure of infants is frequently commented upon in both Greek and Latin authors but this does not help us to determine how frequent it was in practice. Categories at high risk, however, include girls, those with a *deformity, illegitimate offspring, and slave offspring. Being less ‘popular’ than boys (e.g. POxy. 4. 744), many girls may have been undernourished (cf. Xen.Respublica Lacedaemoniorum 1. 3). Whether this led to a marked imbalance among the sexes, as has sometimes been alleged, is unknown. From the time of *Trajan onwards some families in Roman cities were given financial aid called *alimenta to help defray the cost of raising their children.


  • Gender Studies

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