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Katharine T. von Stackelberg

Gardens in the Greek and Roman world were both important cultural spaces and essential contributors to the Mediterranean food economy. Originally dedicated to producing useful household plants for the farm, the garden (kēpos, hortus) developed into a highly desirable urban and suburban amenity that combined productive, leisure, and religious space. Gardens’ association with the paradeisos enclosures of Persian and Hellenistic kings also encouraged their use as status symbols that signaled wealth and power. Gardens were also used as spaces of philosophical engagement and religious activity. They serve as an index of colonial and imperialist practice, reflecting the expansion of Greek and Roman territory through the introduction of new plants, and the use of Hellenizing and Orientalizing art and architecture. As cultivated places defined by their proximity to architecture, gardens emerged as an ideal space to explore the intersection between art and nature represented in the idea of the locus amoenus (‘pleasant place’) and the culture of the Roman villa.


Saskia Hin

People’s life courses are shaped by the complex interactions of contextual factors, of individual behavior, and of opportunities and constraints operating at the macro level. Demography studies these processes with a focus on particular transitions in the life course: birth, leaving home, marriage, and other transitions in civil status (divorce, remarriage, and transitions into widowhood), the birth and survival of offspring, migration, and finally the end of the life cycle—death.

Initial work on the ancient world focussed primarily on macro-level data, trying to establish overall trends in population development on the basis of census figures and other population estimates. This approach has received further impetus with the advent of survey demography (see Population Trends). More recently, attention has turned to single events in the life course. Core demographic studies have attempted to establish patterns and rates of marriage, fertility, migration, and mortality. Others have taken a complementary approach with a stronger focus on qualitative data. These support investigation of sociological, cultural, and economic aspects of demographic phenomena. The remainder of this article focusses on a concise evaluation of current understanding of marriage, fertility, migration, mortality, and population trends in the ancient Greco-Roman world.


Fanny Dolansky

March 1 was the date of the Matronalia festival, which ancient sources generally refer to as either the Kalends of March or the Women’s Kalends. Juno Lucina, goddess of light and childbirth, and Mars, in his more pacific aspects, were the primary recipients of the rites. At Juno Lucina’s temple on the Esquiline Hill in Rome, and presumably at cult sites in other locales, matronae (married freeborn women) offered flowers and prayers to the goddess. The domestic components of the festival involved husbands’ prayers, either for the preservation of their wives or their marriages; a gift exchange; and the feasting of household slaves by their mistresses (dominae). Primarily because of these latter two elements, the Matronalia was regarded by some ancient sources as the female equivalent of the Saturnalia festival, which was observed in December. The Matronalia had a long-recorded history in Italy, and there is evidence that it was celebrated in some provincial locations, including at Carthage and Burdigala (modern Bordeaux).


David M. Lewis

Crete provides historians with a rich fund of legal inscriptions from the Archaic and Classical periods. Although legal inscriptions have survived from several poleis (Axos, Datala, Dreros, Gortyn, Eltynia, Lyktos, Eleutherna, Prinias, Phaistos, and Cnossus), it is Gortyn that has produced the most spectacular finds and in the greatest quantities. These laws provide detailed provisions on various aspects of life, but in particular they deal with property and the family, as well as legal status. Rules on marriage, divorce, adoption, and inheritance all aim to guarantee the stability of families over the long term, whilst numerous laws on debt aim to prevent citizen households from falling below the subsistence margin. Taken as a whole, Crete’s laws provide much evidence for the priorities of male citizens living across the island and the various challenges that they faced.Ancient literary traditions strongly associated Crete with lawgiving through legendary figures such as Minos.