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What evidence support the theory that the killing of unwanted children was practiced in ancient Athens?

What evidence support the theory that the killing of unwanted children was practiced in ancient Athens?


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While researching the Who first wrote about deafness? question, I came across this bold claim on Wikipedia:

Sparta is often portrayed as being unique in this matter, however there is considerable evidence that the killing of unwanted children was practiced in other Greek regions, including Athens.

The quote of course refers to the primitive eugenics of the Spartans, their custom of throwing "puny and deformed" babies into a chasm on Mount Taygetos is documented by various ancient writers, including Strabo and Plutarch.

But that was Sparta, not Athens. Wikipedia cites "Buxton 2001, p. 201" for the claim, by which I imagine it means the paperback edition of Richard Buxton's From Myth to Reason?: Studies in the Development of Greek Thought, that was first published in 1999.

I (obviously) don't have access to the book, and I couldn't find any other reference for the practise not being unique to Sparta. Help?


Premise: I do not have Buxton's book, so my objections are based on other sources. The origin of this claim are to be traced in a series of references. These include:

Children of inferior parents, and of the better, when they chance to be deformed, will be put away in some mysterious, unknown place, as they should be.

Plato, The Republic, 461 C

As to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared;

Aristotle, Politics, 1335b 19-20

Other sources include Aristophanes and Euripides. All of these sources are of accessory character. The fact that philosophers advocate a practice can mean that such a practice was not abhorred, but does not mean that it was common use. As for theater, and especially Euripides, one must consider that art often deals with exceptional situations, e.g. an exposed baby who reverses his faith and becomes king of Thebes.

An authoritative source is instead Polybius, XXXVI, 17

For as men had fallen into such a state of pretentiousness, avarice, and indolence that they did not wish to marry, or if they married to rear the children born to them, or at most as a rule but one or two of them [… ] For any ordinary man will tell you that the most effectual cure had to be men's own action, in either striving after other objects, or if not, in passing laws making it compulsory to rear children.

(emphasis added). This refers only to the Hellenistic period, as it's clear from context (ibid.):

In our own time the whole of Greece has been subject to a low birth-rate and a general decrease of the population, owing to which cities have become deserted and the land has ceased to yield fruit [… ]

So to sum it up, the practice was almost certainly in use in Athens, as it was in many other cultures at the time. There is however no clear evidence that it was common use, certainly nowhere near its practice in Sparta, where it seemed universal. We have suggestions that the practice might have been common in the Hellenistic period, in the whole of Greece.

The Exposure of Infants in Athens, by La Rue van Hook, contains a list of authors who support instead the view reported in Wikipedia.

La Rue van Hook, Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, 1920, 51, 134-145


This is a complicated issue. One thing seems certain - there was no law against exposure of infants anywhere in Greece, in particular in Athens. (Unlike, say, in the late Roman Empire where such a law was promulgated in 374). It was certainly done occasionally, but whether this was a prevalent or a fringe practice in Athens is a matter of much scholarly debate. Most of the evidence seems to be literary from myths or Attic comedies and so subject to widely varying interpretation. Archeological evidence is not likely to turn up (for 2 reasons: (a) there was no central dumping place like in Sparta (b) not all exposed infants died, more on that at the end).

John Boswell summarized the debate in detail in footnote 96 in his book The Kindness of Strangers: The Abandonment of Children in Western Europe. I've read La Rue Van Hook's 1920 article that he mentions and it does show that earlier authorities posited a widespread custom of exposure without sufficient evidence.

Note that we are discussing classical Athens here; for ca 150 BCE La Rue Van Hook quotes Polybius who does indicate that exposure had become widespread.

A more recent scholar, Harris, writes in his 1994 article:

The extent to which infants had been exposed in the classical Greek city is a controversy we need not attempt to settle. For most places we have no information at all. Some recent writers have tended to minimize the phenomenon, taking the recommendation of Plato that the children of the inferior kind of guardians should be exposed (this must be the meaning of Rep. v.46oc) to be counter to current Greek practice;25 but the debate is probably not over, and Theaetet. I 5 I c takes exposure entirely for granted. Aristotle seems to imply (though there is a measure of uncertainty about the text) that the customs of some Greek cities forbade exposure if it was done on demographic or economic grounds,26 which in turn strongly suggests that in other places such a thing was acceptable. In cataloguing the horrendous crimes practised in some other cities, Isocrates includes ex(3oXa'ot f infants (Panath. I22), which tells us nothing about the other cities but shows that such actions were at least to some extent disapproved of at Athens. For Theopompus it was a remarkable fact that the Etruscans reared all their children, and Aristotle saw it as a distinctive characteristic of the Jews.27 The truth of these observations is for present purposes unimportant: what matters is what they reveal about Greek expectations. By the late fourth century, if not earlier, child-exposure was commonplace at Athens. According to a notorious couplet of the comic dramatist Poseidippus28 riov 71r; xav TEvrT]gL gO NTv nXT OtyaTrQa6 ' E'XTwr0(Lx av nj nXoi,oLOg. Everyone, even if he is poor, rears a son, But exposes a daughter, even if he is rich.

Note that his last sentence alludes to the kind of evidence that La Rue Van Hook rightly criticized. So it's full circle.

One last point: exposure does not necessarily mean killing the infant. Many infants were picked up by other people who raised them. Unfortunately, these people as often as not were slave traders.


Survival was very difficult for infants born in ancient Athens. Babies were not given a name until they were between 7 – 10 days old because the mortality rate was so high. Fearing their child would die, parents delayed the formality of naming their child. If an infant had any imperfection, they were often killed or abandoned. Unfortunately nearly any excuse passed as a reason to abandon a baby, especially for females. Sometimes abandoned infants were taken in and adopted by a wealthy family, but most of the time they became a slave of the adoptive family.

While infanticide by exposure was an acceptable practice in Athens some scholars believe history has been harsh on the Athenians in this regard. Pieces of artwork have been studied that show both parents and an Athenian society attempting to defend young children. One gravestone shows a father with his arms lovingly wrapped around a young daughter. This depicts a theory that is not generally discussed Greeks did love their children and felt a deep loss when their children died.

There was no word in ancient Greece that referred to the family. The word oikos, meaning household, comes the closest. It refers to all things domestic. This word was inclusive of slaves and servants. The mother, with assistance from nurse maids, was responsible for the care of the children. Everyone lived with the mother in the women’s quarters.

While living with their mother, infants and children slept in wicker baskets or wooden cradles. There is also evidence on pottery, in paintings and from archeological digs that babies used high chairs and had baby bottles in the shape of animals. In order to insure straight and strong bones babies were sometimes wrapped up tightly in cloth. This practice lasted until the child was approximately two years old. Brothers and sisters stayed with their mother until they were about seven years old.

At that time their lives changed dramatically depending on their sex.


Infant Dump Site from Roman Britain Raises More Questions Than Answers

The remains of what was a Roman bathhouse in Bet She&rsquoan, Israel. A similar bathhouse was excavated in Ashkelon, Israel, where the bones of 100 infants were found in a sewer that ran underneath the brothel. Wikimedia Commons.

There is some support for the infanticide theory at Hambleden. Almost all of the bones recovered were from the same area, and all of the babies found in the graveyard died around the same age. Measurements of the leg bones estimate that the infants died around 40 weeks, right after they were born. If the grave was just a cemetery, there would be examples of bones that were both older and younger than the 40-week range, examples of pre-natal and post-natal death.

The discovery at Hambleden also has striking similarities to another mass infant gravesite found in what was the former Roman empire. In 1988, at the site of a brothel in Ashkelon, Israel, archaeologists discovered the remains of one hundred infants in what was a sewer that ran beneath the structure. They are all born relatively soon before they died, and all of them are estimated to be at about 40 weeks, making it a suspected site of infanticide because of the location and the age of the bones.

Despite some signs that seem to confirm it, there is some doubt that parents abandoned all of the infants found at the site. Some of the babies buried in the grave could have been stillborn, or they could have died soon after birth from natural causes. All we know is that they were all buried together, which aligns with standard ancient Roman burial practices. There is no other support to completely confirm infanticide other than the bones being relatively the same age and buried in the same location, so the fate of the infants in the mass grave currently remains a mystery.

An infant skeleton from Yewden Villa. Testing of the skeletons showed that they died very soon after birth. Copyright by BBC/360 Production/Buckinghamshire County Museum. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2031727/Roman-prostitutes-forced-kill-children-bury-mass-graves-English-brothel.html#ixzz54AFixOgh

In the second investigation into Yewden Villa, Dr. Jill Eyers suggested that there was a brothel on the grounds of the villa, and prostitutes used the mass grave to abandon their babies, without other options for birth control. This theory has created much debate and has captured media attention on the discovery at Hambleden. While some support Dr. Eyers&rsquo opinion, many other archaeologists and researchers question it based on the lack of other evidence indicating the presence of a brothel.

One of the main assumptions behind the theory is that the women who were forced to abandon their children felt like they had no other options. Not only is that assuming that the bones were victims of infanticide, which hasn&rsquot been completely confirmed yet, but there is much documentation that shows that the Romans routinely practiced birth control. Women across the whole Empire, including Roman Britain, used herbs, plants, and spermicides to either prevent or terminate a pregnancy. Using these methods, they were able to control the size of their families, maintaining an average of two children per family, until the fall of the Western Roman Empire. It seems unlikely that prostitutes, whose occupation could lead to unwanted pregnancy, would be unfamiliar with contemporary birth control methods and would have to resort to neglecting their babies.


What evidence support the theory that the killing of unwanted children was practiced in ancient Athens? - History

Excavations in Zama Reveal that the Carthaginians Did Not Sacrifice Children.
by Piero Bartoloni, Head of the Department of Phoenician-Punic Archaeology at Universita' di Sassari and favorite student of famous archaeologist Sabatino Moscati.

Excavations in Ashkelon prove that the Romans drowned, threw away their male babies

Still Born Fetuses in Urns & the Perpetuated Lie of Diodoro Siculo
Translated from Italian by kind courtesy of Pasquale Mereu, Karalis, Sardinia, Italy
From IGN Italy Global Nation (May 2007)

Excavations in Zama, Tunis, reveal that the practice of sacrificing children by the Phoenicians is a myth. The myth was born in the Greco-Roman age with Diodoro Siculo. He made a claim that in 310 B.C. the Carthaginians remembered that they did not honor their god Chronos with the annual sacrifice of children of noble families. Because of that, in few days, they slaughtered two hundred children. Recent archaeological discoveries have disavowed this macabre religious tradition, demonstrating that among Phoenicians there is no trace of human sacrifices. This appears in an interview, in the new issue of the Italian review: "Archeologia Viva," with professor Piero Bartoloni, Head of the Department of Phoenician-Punic Archaeology at Universita' di Sassari, Italy, and a favorite student of famous archaeologist Sabatino Moscati. He undertook a major excavation campaign in Zama, Tunisia, that is linked to the fall of Carthage after the battle of Zama in 202 B.C. The battle ended the second Punic war. He declares that, "In ancient times, for every ten children that were born, seven died within the first year and out of the remained three, only one became an adult. Now I ask: is it reasonable that, with such a high level of infant mortality, these people killed their own children?” Ten necropolises are the resting places of children. Actually it has been discovered -- Bartoloni reveals -- that the greater part of approximately 6,000 children urns found in Carthage, contain bones of fetuses, therefore of still born babies. The little older children remain a problem. They most probably passed away before their initiation, a ceremony that corresponds to Catholic baptism. Flames in some way were involved, because the same initiation included the "passage of fire” of the child, accompanied by its godfather. They jumped on burning coals, as written in the Bible, the Book of the Kings.

Curriculum Vitae et Studiorum di Piero Bartoloni (in Italian)

Piero Bartoloni si è laureato in Lettere presso l`insegnamento di Filologia Semitica, relatore Sabatino Moscati, con una tesi sull`insediamento di Monte Sirai (Carbonia-Cagliari), conseguendo la votazione di 110 e lode.

Piero Bartoloni è stato Dirigente di Ricerca del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche presso l`Istituto per la Civiltà fenicia e punica, del quale è stato Direttore dal 1997 al 2002. Attualmente è Professore Straordinario di Archeologia fenicio-punica presso l`Università di Sassari. Inoltre, dal 1990 al 1994 è stato Professore di Archeologia del Vicino Oriente e dal 1994 al 2000 di Archeologia fenicio-punica nell`Università di Urbino.

Piero Bartoloni dal 1962 ha effettuato missioni archeologiche, prospezioni terrestri e subacquee e viaggi di studio in Italia, in Europa, in Africa e nel Nord-America. Attualmente, per conto del Dipartimento di Storia dell`Università di Sassari, dell`Istituto di Studi sulle Civiltà italiche e del Mediterraneo antico del Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, dirige gli scavi archeologici a Zama Regia (Siliana- Tunisia) e, in collaborazione con la Soprintendenza Archeologica per le Province di Cagliari e Oristano, a Sulcis e a Monte Sirai (Cagliari).

Piero Bartoloni è Coordinatore dell`XI Dottorato "Il Mediterraneo in età classica. Storia e culture", è Membro del Comitato Nazionale per gli Studi e le Ricerche sulla Civiltà fenicia e punica del Ministro per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali e Membro dell`Istituto Italiano per l`Africa e l`Oriente. Piero Bartoloni è Direttore del Museo Archeologico Comunale "Ferruccio Barreca" di Sant`Antioco (Cagliari)

Piero Bartoloni è autore di circa duecento (two hundreds) pubblicazioni a carattere scientifico, tra le quali dieci libri.

The Tophet was the final resting place for the still- born and for children who died in early infancy. (see letter below in support of this view)

M'hamed Hassine Fantar

Were it not for a few classical accounts, scholars would probably not attribute the burials in the Carthage Tophet to child sacrifice. Some of the more sensational stories, such as those related by the first-century B.C. historian Diodorus Siculus, have been picked up in modern times and passed off as the entire truth. In the 19th century, for instance, Gustave Flaubert described Punic child sacrifices in his novel Salammbô he had no evidence at all, except for the classical sources.

What if, however, the classical sources are unreliable? Indeed, what if all the evidence regarding the burials‹either from literary sources or archaeological excavations‹is unreliable or inconclusive?

Here is Diodorus's account of how the Carthaginians sacrificed their children: "There was in their city a bronze image of Cronus, extending its hands, palms up and sloping toward the ground, so that each of the children when placed thereon rolled down and fell into a sort of gaping pit filled with fire" (Library of History 20.6- 7).

This is the stuff of myth, not history. Diodorus, who was from Sicily, was probably mixing up stories about Carthage with ancient Sicilian myths‹ specifically the myth of the great bronze bull, built for the Sicilian tyrant Phalaris, in which the king's enemies were roasted alive.

Now, when we come to more credible sources, like the Roman historian Polybius (c. 200-118 B.C.), there is no mention of Carthaginian child sacrifice. Polybius, we know, was with the Roman general Scipio Aemilianus when he destroyed Punic Carthage in 146 B.C. Polybius had no love of Carthage he fought against the city. His evidence would have been decisive. But he does not make the least allusion to child sacrifice at Carthage.

Nor does the Roman historian Livy (c. 64 B.C.-12 A.D.), a more reliable contemporary of Diodorus. Livy was relatively well informed about Carthage, yet he was not so affectionate toward the city as to cover up what would have been in his eyes the worst of infamies: the deliberate slaughter of children.

*For more information on the meaning of the word "Moloch," see Lawrence E. Stager and Samuel R. Wolff, "Child Sacrifice at Carthage‹Religious Rite or Population Control? Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1984. (This issue is out of print. To order a photocopy of this article, call us at 1-800-221-4644.) So it is not clear at all from the classical sources that the Carthaginians sacrificed their children to the gods. What about the biblical verses often taken as evidence of child sacrifice among the Canaanites‹particularly the Phoenicians, who established Carthage? The word "Tophet" is only known from the Hebrew Bible it occurs several times in Jeremiah, once in Isaiah and once in Kings, always in the same context: "He [the late- seventh-century B.C. Judahite king Josiah] defiled Tophet, which is in the valley of Ben-hinnom, so that no one would make a son or a daughter pass through fire as an offering to Moloch" (2 Kings 23:10).* So strong a connection has been presumed between such biblical passages and the Punic sanctuaries that these sacred grounds in Carthage and elsewhere are now called Tophets. The fact is, however, that the biblical passages do not mention sacrifice. They only refer to passing children through fire.

Neither the classical sources nor the biblical passages provide conclusive evidence concerning the events that took place in the Carthage Tophet. What about the physical facts?

The Tophet was a sacred space where urns containing the incinerated bones of children were buried. These remains, moreover, were no doubt buried ritually, in accord with Punic religious or cultic laws. Marking some urns are stelae bearing Phoenician inscriptions, along with symbols (like the triangular symbol of the goddess Tanit) and figural images. The incinerated remains are those of very young children, even fetuses in certain urns, the bones of animals have been discovered. In some cases the urns contain the remains of children and animals mixed together. How do we account for these facts?

Some historians, such as the French scholar Hélène Benichou-Safar, have proposed that the Carthage Tophet was simply a children's cemetery in which incineration was the method of burial. This interpretation, however, confronts a sizable obstacle: Many of the thousands of inscriptions engraved on the burial stelae are votive. The inscriptions make offerings and vows to the gods, and they plead for the gods' blessing. Not one of these inscriptions, however, mentions death.

The Carthage Tophet, like other Tophets in Sicily and Sardinia, was not a necropolis. It was a sanctuary of the Punic god Ba'al Hammon.

The texts of the inscriptions in the Carthage Tophet suggest that the sanctuary was open to everyone, regardless of nationality or social status. We know that Greek-speaking people made use of the sanctuary, for instance, since some inscriptions have the names of the gods transcribed in Greek characters. Foreigners who visited the Tophet clearly did not offer Ba'al Hammon their offspring. Nor is it likely that visitors from other Punic settlements visited the Carthage Tophet to bury or sacrifice their children. One inscription, for example, mentions a woman named "Arishat daughter of Ozmik." The inscription tells us that Arishat was a "Baalat Eryx," or noble woman of Eryx, a Punic community in Sicily. It seems reasonable to assume that Arishat, while visiting the great city of Carthage, simply felt the need to pay homage to the Punic gods‹or to utter a vow or make a request.

The Carthage Tophet was a sacred sanctuary where people came to make vows and address requests to Ba'al Hammon and his consort Tanit, according to the formula do ut des ("I give in order that you give"). Each vow was accompanied by an offering.

Some of the stelae suggest that animals were sacrificed and then offered to the gods. For example, some stelae bear engraved depictions of altars and the heads of the animal victims.

The presence of the incinerated bones of very young children, infants and even fetuses is puzzling. If the Tophet was not a cemetery (as the presence of animal bones suggests), why do we find infants and fetuses buried in a sanctuary?

It is very common, all over the world, to find that children who die young, and especially fetuses, are accorded special status. Many cultures believe that these are simply not ordinary deaths. The Italian archaeologist Sabatino Moscati has pointed out that in certain Greek necropolises children were incinerated and their tombs were located in a separate sector, quite distinct from the burial place used for adults. This is also the case in some Islamic necropolises, where sections are reserved exclusively for the tombs of infants. Even today, Japanese children who die young, called Gizu, are placed in special areas of a temple, and they are represented by carved figurines that suggest their holy status.

Similarly, Punic children who died young possessed a special status. They were accordingly incinerated and buried inside an enclosure reserved for the cult of lord Ba'al Hammon and lady Tanit. These children were not "dead" in the usual sense of the word rather, they were retroceded. For mysterious reasons, Ba'al Hammon decided to recall them to himself. Submitting to divine will, the parents returned the child, giving it back to the god according to a ritual that involved, among other things, incineration and burial. In return, the parents hoped that Ba'al Hammon and Tanit would provide a replacement for the retroceded child‹and this request was inscribed on a funeral stela.

Thus the Tophet burials were not true offerings of children to the gods. Rather, they were restitutions of children or fetuses taken prematurely, by natural death.

Carthaginians did not sacrifice their children to Ba'al Hammon in the Tophet. This open-air site, accessible to all who cared to visit the place, was a sacred sanctuary presided over by Ba'al Hammon and his consort Tanit. The human remains found in the urns buried in the Tophet were of children recalled to the presence of the gods that is why they were buried in the sanctuary. To this sanctuary came grieving parents, who gave their children back to Ba'al Hammon and Tanit. Sometimes the parents would offer animal sacrifices to the gods to solicit their favor. Then they had funeral stelae carved and inscribed with vows, along with the poignant request that the divine couple grant them further offspring.

The thousands of individual burials, the several mass burials and the animal burials all demonstrate that these were sacrifical offerings to the gods.

Lawrence E. Stager and Joseph A. Greene

The evidence that Phoenicians ritually sacrificed their children comes from four sources. Classical authors and biblical prophets charge the Phoenicians with the practice. Stelae associated with burial urns found at Carthage bear decorations alluding to sacrifice and inscriptions expressing vows to Phoenician deities. Urns buried beneath these stelae contain remains of children (and sometimes of animals) who were cremated as described in the sources or implied by the inscriptions.

Still, some scholars like Dr. Fantar deny that the Phoenicians sacrificed their children. They dismiss the texts as tendentious or misinformed, and they ignore the sacrificial implications of the inscribed stelae. The archaeological evidence, however, especially the bones found inside the burial urns, cannot be so easily explained away.

Evidence from classical authors. Ancient authors, both Greco-Roman historians like Kleitarchos, Diodorus and Plutarch and Church fathers like Tertullian, condemn the Carthaginians for the practice of child sacrifice. Some add lurid but unverifiable details‹sacrifices witnessed by distraught mothers, grimacing victims consumed by flames, human offerings received in the outstretched arms of a brazen statue. On one point these sources are completely in accord: The Carthaginians sacrificed their children to their supreme deities.

To be sure, some historians who wrote about Carthage, such as Polybius, took no note of this practice. Why Polybius failed to mention Carthaginian child sacrifice is a mystery. He was a member of Scipio's staff in 146 B.C., and he must have known the city well. The revisionists seize on such omissions as an excuse to dismiss all reports of Phoenician child sacrifice as pure fabrications arising from anti-Phoenician bias. But this is a non sequitur. The fact that Polybius does not mention Carthaginian child sacrifice does not mean that other testimonies are false it simply means that he has nothing to say on this point.

Evidence from the Hebrew Bible. The sixth-century B.C. prophet Jeremiah accused syncretizing Judahites of setting up a "high place of Tophet" in the Valley of Ben-Hinnom outside Jerusalem (Jeremiah 7:30-32), where they "burn (sharaf) their sons and their daughters in the fire (b'esh)." This is clearly not a description of sons and daughters "passing through" the fire in some sort of rite of passage from which they emerge singed but not incinerated. These children, both male and female, "burn . in the fire," that is, they are cremated, according to Jeremiah. This testimony is not from a foreigner who accuses the Judahites of evil ways it is from one of their own. Any Jerusalemite who thought that the prophet might have been fabricating charges of child sacrifice could have taken a short walk down the valley of Ben-Hinnom and become, like Jeremiah, an eyewitness to the human sacrifices taking place there.

The word "Tophet" can be translated "place of burning" or "roaster." The Hebrew text does not specify that the Judahite victims were buried, only burned, although the "place of burning" was probably adjacent to the place of burial. Indeed, soil in the Carthage Tophet was found to be full of olive wood charcoal, no doubt from the sacrificial pyres. We have no idea how the Phoenicians themselves referred to the places of burning or burial or to the practice itself, since no large body of Phoenician writing‹no Phoenician "Bible," as it were‹has come down to us.

Evidence from Phoenician inscriptions. What have come down to us are thousands of Phoenician inscriptions, the vast majority of which are from the Carthage Tophet. These inscriptions, however, are highly formulaic and tantalizingly laconic. None refers explicitly to child sacrifice, only to vows made to Tanit and Ba'al Hammon. For example, an inscription on a stela from the Tanit II period (sixth to third century B.C.) reads: "To our lady, to Tanit . and to our lord, to Ba'al Hammon, that which was vowed." The placement of such stelae immediately above the jars containing burned remains strongly suggests that these vows had something to do with the cremated individuals, human or animal, inside the jars.

*For more information on the meaning of the word "Moloch," see Lawrence E. Stager and Samuel R. Wolff, "Child Sacrifice at Carthage‹Religious Rite or Population Control? Biblical Archaeology Review, January/February 1984. (This issue is out of print. To order a photocopy of this article, call us at 1-800-221-4644.) Somewhat unexpectedly, inscribed stelae in the Carthage Tophet occasionally mark jars containing animal remains, incinerated and buried in the same careful fashion as the human victims. In this regard, a second- or third-century A.D. Neo-Punic stela from Cirta (Constantine), in Algeria, is relevant. The stela is inscribed in Latin: vita pro vita, sanguis pro sanguine, agnum pro vikario (Life for life, blood for blood, a lamb for a substitute). This act of substitution is reminiscent of the biblical Akedah, in which Abraham's sacrifice of his son Isaac was forestalled by the miraculous provision of a ram as a substitute (Genesis 22:13).*

Evidence from archaeology. The burned bones found inside jars from the Carthage Tophet provide conclusive evidence for Phoenician child sacrifice. Animal remains, mostly sheep and goats, found inside some of the Tophet urns strongly suggest that this was not a burial ground for children who died prematurely. The animals were sacrificed to the gods, presumably in place of children. It is highly likely that the children unlucky enough not to have substitutes were also sacrificed and then buried in the Tophet.

Moreover, the osteological evidence reveals that most of the victims were children two to three months old, though some were as old as age five. So far no skeleton has shown any signs of pathological conditions that might have caused death. These were healthy children deliberately killed as sacrifices in the manner described in the classical and biblical texts.

The sex of the victims is unclear. We do not know for certain whether they were exclusively males, as some have asserted, or both males and females. Some biblical texts suggest that firstborn males were chosen as the ultimate sacrifice to the deity. For example, during a military engagement between the Moabites and the Israelites, the king of Moab "took his firstborn son who was to succeed him, and offered him as a burnt offering." Upon witnessing this sacrifice, the Israelites retreated and "returned to their own land" (2 Kings 3:27). The prophet Micah lists the sacrifice of the firstborn male as the highest form of offering a human can give to a god‹even better than "calves a year old," rams or "rivers of olive oil" (Micah 6:6-7). Other texts, however, specify that both "sons and daughters" were sacrificed in the Tophet (Jeremiah 7:31 and 2 Kings 23:10).

Infant skeletons are insufficiently developed to allow the determination of sex on the basis of bone morphology alone. Ongoing DNA analysis of bones from the jars, however, may resolve the question of whether the victims were all males or a mix of males and females.

The classical and biblical texts, as well as the archaeology, all indicate that healthy living children were sacrificed to the gods in the Tophet. Our purpose in making this case is not to malign the Phoenicians but to understand them.

Excavations in Ashkelon prove that the Romans drowned, threw away their male babies

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  11. —. "DNA analysis reveals the sex of infanticide victims." Nature 385 (1997): 212-213.
  12. Faust, Avraham and Ehud Weiss. "Judah, Philistia and the World: Reconstructing the Seventh Century BCE Economic System. Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 338, (2005): 71-92.
  13. Gitler, Haim and Y. Kahanov. "The Ascalon 1988 Hoard (CH.9.548), A Periplus to Ascalon in the Late Hellenistic Period?" In Coin Hoards 9: Greek Hoards. Royal Numismatic Society Special Publications No. 35. Ed. A. Meadows, U. Wartenberg, 259Ð268. London: Royal Numismatic Society, 2002.
  14. Gitler, Haim. "Achaemenid Motifs in the Coinage of Ashdod, Ascalon and Gaza from the Fourth Century B.C." Transeuphratène 20 (2000): 73-87.
  15. —. "New Fourth-Century B.C. Coins from Ashkelon." The Numismatic Chronicle 156 (1996): 1-9.
  16. Gold, Wendy. "Dark Side Unearthed in Ancient Israeli City." Discovery Channel, Canada, 20 January 1997.
  17. Gore, Rick. "Ancient Ashkelon." National Geographic Magazine 199/1(2001): 66-90.
  18. Greene, Joseph. "Ascalon." In Encyclopedia of Early Christian Art and Archaeology. Ed. P. Corby Finney. New York: Garland Publishing Inc. (forthcoming).
  19. Hesse, Brian. "Pampered Pooches or Plain Pariahs? The Ashkelon Dog Burials." Biblical Archaeologist 56/2 (1993): 55-80.
  20. Hoffman, Tracy L. "Ascalon 'Arus Al Sham: Domestic Architecture and the Development of a Byzantine-Islamic City." Ph.D. diss., University of Chicago, 2003.
  21. Huehnergard, John and W. van Soldt. "A Cuneiform Lexical Text from Ashkelon with a Canaanite Column." Israel Exploration Journal 49 (1999): 184-192.
  22. Johnson, Barbara and L.E. Stager. "Ashkelon: Wine Emporium of the Holy Land." In Recent Excavations in Israel. Ed. Seymour Gitin, 95-109. Boston: AIA Colloquia and Conference Papers 1, 1995.
  23. Keel, Othmar. "Aschkelon." In Corpus der Stempelsiegel—Amulette aus Palästina/Israel vol. 1. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 13. Ed., 688-736 (nos. 1-120). Freiburg: Freiburg University, 1997.
  24. Lass, Egon. "Quantitative Studies in Flotation at Ashkelon, 1986 to 1988." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 294 (1994): 23-38.
  25. Lipovitch, David. "Can These Bones Live Again? An Analysis of the Persian Period Non-Candid Mammalian Faunal Remains from Tel Ashkelon." Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 1999.
  26. Master, Daniel. "Trade and Politics: Ashkelon's Balancing Act in the 7th Century B.C.E." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 330 (2003): 47-64.
  27. —. "The Seaport of Ashkelon in the Seventh Century BCE: A Petrographic Study." Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2001.
  28. —. "Iron I Chronology at Ashkelon: Preliminary Results of the Leon Levy Expedition," in Radiocarbon Dating and the Bible, ed. T. Levy. Equinox, 2005.
  29. —. "Ashkelon" in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Historical Books, ed. B. T. Arnold and H. G. M. Williamson. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2005.]
  30. Mayerson, Philip. "An Additional Note on Ascalon Wine (P. Oxy. 1384)." Israel Exploration Journal 45 (1995):190.
  31. —. "The Use of Ascalon Wine in the Medical Writers of the Fourth to the Seventh Centuries." Israel Exploration Journal 43 (1994): 169-173.
  32. Rosen-Ayalon, Miriam. "The Islamic Jewellrey From Ashkelon In Jewellery and Goldsmithing in the Islamic World: International Symposium, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, 1987. Ed. N. Brosh, 9-20. Jerusalem: Israel Museum, 1991.
  33. Schloen, David. "Ashkelon." In Oxford Encyclopedia of Archaeology in the Near East. Ed. E. Meyers, vol. 1, 220-223. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  34. Sharon, Moshe. "A New Fatimid Inscription from Ascalon and Its Historical Setting." 'Atiqot 26 (1997): 61-86.
  35. —. Egyptian Caliph and English Baron: The story of an Arabic inscription for Ashkelon. Corpus Inscriptionum Arabicarum Palaestinae. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1994.
  36. Smith, Patricia and G. Kahila. "Identification of Infanticide in Archaeological Sites: A Case Study from the Late Roman-Early Byzantine Periods at Ashkelon, Israel." Journal of Archaeological Science 19 (1992): 667-675.
  37. Stager, Lawrence E. and P. J. King. Life in Biblical Israel. Louisville, KY: Westminster/John Knox Press, 2001.
  38. Stager, Lawrence E. "Port Power: The Organization of Maritime Trade and Hinterland Production." In Studies in the Archaeology of Israel and Neighboring Lands: In Memory of Douglas L. Esse. SAOC 59, ASOR Books 5. Ed. S. R. Wolff, 625-638. Atlanta, GA: ASOR, 2001.
  39. Stager, Lawrence E. and P. Smith. "DNA Analysis Sheds New Light on Oldest Profession at Ashkelon." Biblical Archaeology Review23/4 (1997): 16.
  40. Stager, Lawrence E. and P.A. Mountjoy. "A Pictorial Krater from Philistine Ashkelon," in Up to the Gates of Ekron [1 Samuel 17:52]: Essays on the Archaeology and History of the Eastern Mediterranean in Honor of Seymour Gitin, eds. S.W.Crawford et al, Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, in press.
  41. Stager, Lawrence E., M. Bietak and K. Kopetzky. "Stratigraphie Comparee Nouvelle: the Synchronisation of Ashkelon and Tell el-Dab`a" in International Conference on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East (ICAANE) vol. 3 (Conference held in Paris, April 2003) eds. Pierre de Miroschedji and Jean-Paul Thalmann, pp. 221-234.
  42. Stager, Lawrence E. and R. J. Voss. "A Sequence of Tell el Yahudiyah Ware from Ashkelon" in Tell el Yahudiyah Ware from Egypt and Levant, ed. M. Bietak. Osterreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften: Vienna., in press.
  43. Stager, Lawrence E. and F. M. Cross, "Cypro-Minoan Inscriptions Found in Philistine Ashkelon," Israel Exploration Journal 56/4, 2006.
  44. Stager, Lawrence E. "Ashkelon and the Archaeology of Destruction." In Eretz Israel 25 [Joseph Aviram Volume]. Ed. A. Biran, et al., 61*-74*. Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society, 1996.
  45. —. "The Fury of Babylon." Biblical Archaeology Review 22/1 (1996): 58-69, 76-77.
  46. —. "The Impact of the Sea Peoples in Canaan (1185-1050 BCE)." In The Archaeology of Society in the Holy Land. Ed. Thomas E. Levy, 332-348. New York, NY: Facts on File, 1995.
  47. —. "Ashkelon." New Encyclopedia of Archaeological Excavations In the Holy Land. Ed. E. Stern, vol. 1,103-112. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster, 1993. —. "The MB IIA Ceramic Sequence at Tel Ashkelon and Its Implications for the 'Port Power' Model of Trade." In The Middle Bronze Age in the Levant: Proceedings of an International Conference on MB IIA Ceramic Material, Vienna, 24th-26th of January 2001. Ed. M. Bietak, 353-362. Wien: Verlag Der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002.
  48. —. "Chariot Fittings from Philistine Ashkelon," Confronting the Past: Archaeological and Historical Essays on Ancient Israel in Honor of William G. Dever, eds. S. Gitin, J.E. Wright, and J.P. Dessel. Eisenbrauns 2006, pp. 169-176.
  49. —. "Biblical Philistines: A Hellenistic Literary Creation?" in "I Will Speak the Riddles of Ancient Times:" Archaeological and Historical Studies in Honor of Amihai Mazar, eds. A. Maeir and P. de Miroschedji. Eisenbrauns 2006, pp.375-384.
  50. —. "New Discoveries in the Excavations of Ashkelon in the Bronze and Iron Ages," Qadmoniot. Vol. 39, No. 131, 2006 (Hebrew).
  51. —. "The House of the Silver Calf of Ashkelon" in Timelines: Studies in Honour of Manfred Bietak Volume II, eds. E. Czerny, I. Hein, H. Hunger, D. Melman, and A. Schwab, Peeters 2006, pp 403-410.
  52. —. "Das Silberkalb von Aschkelon." Antike Welt 21/4 (1990): 271-272.
  53. —. Ashkelon Discovered: From Canaanites and Philistines to Romans and Moslems. Washington, DC: Biblical Archaeology Society, 1991.
  54. —. "Un Veau d'argent déacouvert à Ashqelôn." Le Monde de la Bible 70 (1991): 50 52.
  55. —. "When Canaanites and Philistines Ruled Ashkelon." Biblical Archaeology Review 17/2 (1991): 24 43.
  56. —. "Why Were Hundreds of Dogs Buried at Ashkelon?" Biblical Archaeology Review 17/3 (1991): 27 42.
  57. —. "Eroticism and Infanticide at Ashkelon." Biblical Archaeology Review 17/4 (1991): 35-53.
  58. —. "In the Footsteps of the Philistines." In Ashqelon 4000 and Forty More Years. Ed. N. Arbel, vol. 1, chapter 1*. Tel Aviv: Graph Or Daphtal, 1990.
  59. Stager, Lawrence E. and D. Esse. "Ashkelon Excavations: The Leon Levy Expedition." In Ashqelon 4000 and Forty More Years. Ed. N. Arbel, vol. 1, chapter 2*. Tel Aviv: Graph Or Daphtal, 1990.
  60. —. "Notes and News: Ashkelon." Israel Exploration Journal 37 (1987): 68-72.
  61. Stone, Bryan J. "The Philistines and Acculturation: Culture Change and Ethnic Continuity in the Iron Age." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research 298 (1995): 7-32.
  62. Thompson, Christine. "Sealed Silver in Iron Age Cisjordan and the 'Invention' of Coinage." Oxford Journal of Archaeology 22/1 (2003): 67-107.
  63. Voss, Ross. "A Sequence of Four Middle Bronze Gates in Asheklon." In The Middle Bronze Age in the Levant: Proceedings of an International Conference on MB IIA Ceramic Material, Vienna, 24th-26th of January 2001. Ed. M. Bietak,.379-384. Wien: Verlag Der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2002.
  64. Waldbaum, Jane C. "Iron I-II(1200-586)—Imports and Local Imitations: Greek." In The Ancient Pottery of Israel and Its Neighbors from the Neolithic through the Hellenistic Period. Ed. S. Gitin. Jerusalem: IES, W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research, IAA, (in preparation).
  65. —. "7th Century B.C. Greek Pottery from Ashkelon, Israel: An Entrepôt in the Southern Levant." In Pont-Exuin et Commerce: La Genèse de la 'Route de la Soie,' Actes die IXe Symposium de Vani (Colchide)-1999. Ed. M. Faudot, A. Fraysse, and E. Geny, 57-75. Presses Universitaires Franc-Comtoises, 2002.
  66. Waldbaum, Jane C. and J. Magness. "The Chronology of Early Greek Pottery: New Evidence from Seventh Century B.C. Destruction Levels in Israel." American Journal of Archaeology 101 (1997): 23-40.
  67. Wapnish Paula and B. Hesse. "Pigs' Feet, Cattle Bones and Birds' Wings." Biblical Archaeology Review 22/1 (1996): 62.
  68. Wapnish, Paula. "Beauty and Utility in Bone: New Light on Bone Crafting." Biblical Archaeology Review 17/4 (1991): 54-57.
  69. Weiss, Ehud and M. E. Kislev. "Plant Remains as Indicators for Economic Activity: A Case Study from Iron Age Ashkelon." Journal of Archaeological Science 31 (2004): 1-13.

Response in support of M'hamed Hassine Fantar published as is.

Subject: letter to the Editor: about child sacrifice in Carthage
Date: Tuesday, February 3, 2004 2:50 PM
From: Salvatore Conte [email protected]>
To: Salim Khalaf

Dear Editor,

I read the interesting article you published about child sacrifice in Carthage (with theses by M'hamed Hassine Fantar from one side, and by Lawrence E. Stager and Joseph A. Greene from the other one).

I'm an Italian independent scholar and I focus my studies over historical problems produced by "Romancentrism": a totalitarian point of view of Mediterranean ancient history, based on false witnesses and on the absence (from the "trial") of Carthage libraries burned by the greatest vandal (and criminal) of ancient times: Publius Cornelius Scipio Aemilianus Africanus minor.

I share Prof. Fantar's thesis.

His thought is clear and gets my humble admiration.

Not only Prof. Moscati, but three eminent scholars (Michel Gras, Pierre Rouillard, Javier Teixidor: "L'univers phénicien", Arthaud, 1989) are agree with him too.

So I think this is the truth:

Punic children who died young possessed a special status. They were accordingly incinerated and buried inside an enclosure reserved for the cult of lord Ba'al Hammon and lady Tanit. These children were not "dead" in the usual sense of the word rather, they were retroceded. For mysterious reasons, Ba'al Hammon decided to recall them to himself. Submitting to divine will, the parents returned the child, giving it back to the god according to a ritual that involved, among other things, incineration and burial. In return, the parents hoped that Ba'al Hammon and Tanit would provide a replacement for the retroceded children and this request was inscribed on a funeral stela (M'hamed Hassine Fantar).

But I'd wish rising here another question: the "classical sources" (Fantar's words) which talk about children sacrifices in Carthage are nearly the same which talk about the suicide (in the fire) of Carthage foundress, Elissa of Tyrus (Dido).

I think these two topics are just one.

We know Tanit is the most important Goddess in Carthage, and she's protagonist in the Tophet too.

We know also that Astarte and Tanit are not the same one.

We know that no sign of Tanit is dated older than IX-VIII century B.C (Elissa times).

And we know Elissa was deified, but we don't know her divine name.

Besides we know Tanit cult will survive in Carthage very long, until the end of "classical age" (5th century C.E.), with a strong identification with the city, even if no more Punic.

So I think Tanit is the divine name of Elissa, and since she was devoted to Astarte, she probably was considered the "incarnation" or "revelation" of Astarte.

The ingenious, peaceful, "miraculous" foundation and fast development of Carthage, the good relations with Lybian peoples, a long and stable government, agriculture and urban improvements, a special - feminine - care of childhood to favor the growth of the new city (as Prof. Fantar explains by his better words), and at last a mild passage to the Republic form, probably led to her deification.

But also to the grudge by hostile foreign leaders and their "classical voices".

In any case, so many evidences seem to exclude the fanciful, contradictories inventions about her suicide made by some "classical sources" ("the voice of the enemy", as writes Gerhard Herm).

I publish on my website (www.queendido.org <http://www.queendido.org> ) complete references (but mainly on Italian language).

But I wish proposing here a confirm by an excellent Author: Virgil.

I study his Aeneid from a different, not common, point of view: "double writing" system by French Prof. Jean-Yves Maleuvre.

According to this theory, Virgil was a fierce opponent of Emperor Augustus.

By this reason, he disappointed Augustus expectations about Aeneas heroism, and he secretly built his Poem around Dido's character (I call this "Didocentrism" in Virgil's Work).

This explains very well the famous historical anachronism between Aeneas and Dido (three/four centuries far): Virgil was completely disinterested by Aeneas.

His historical attention is for Dido's times. We have several examples: for instance, he perfectly knew when Phoenicians colonized Cyprus (IX century B.C., according to Gras/Rouillard/Teixidor see Aeneid, I, 621-622).

Following this line we discover several important things.

One of these is that Virgil probably knew Phoenician/Punic "child religious philosophy" in this way he writes in the Aeneid, 6th Book, 426-429 (T.C. Williams translation):

Now hears he sobs, and piteous, lisping cries
Of souls of babes upon the threshold plaining
Whom, ere they took their portion of sweet life,
Dark Fate from nursing bosoms tore, and plunged
In bitterness of death.

Through Aeneas eyes, Virgil describes a special area of Underworld where the souls of soon dead children stay, separated from the other souls (this aspect is different from Homer's Underworld). So probably Virgil knew this Punic convention and he accepted it, introducing it in his work.

It's possible notice that Virgil doesn't explain children deaths by human actions.

But, since virgilian narrator is often "internal" (I mean "not omniscient"), and since Aeneas "travel" in Underworld is indeed a dream of the Trojan, the thing is even more interesting: Aeneas comes from Carthage long stay, at Dido's court in this way, he has "absorbed" Phoenician/Punic vision of Underworld, where very little children can't be judged by "Minos, the judge" of Underworld, because (as Fantar says so well) "these children were not dead in the usual sense of the word rather, they were retroceded".

I substain also that Dido's suicide in the Aeneid is merely apparent, but this is another story.

Complex enough and requiring Ovid knowledge.

I can just invite here to reflect about the fact that "comites aspiciunt" (read "Trojans hope for"), of IV, 664, introduces a subjective vision (internal narration): pyre's fire "deceives" Aeneas and companions. They wish seeing Dido's death, and they see it, by their mind, in the way they prefer: ugly and bloody (check narrative/subjective echos among IV, 665, and Trojans' leaving from Carthage, IV, 581-583). That's the exact meaning of Dido's words in IV, 661/662, I think.

Virgil, Ovid (Fasti), and Silius Italicus (Virgil's follower), demolish "classical sources" in the name of a common vision of Mediterranean history: one, unique people - one, unique great civilization - one story only, with no ostility and no hate towards other parts of this same Mediterranean people.

The introduction in Rome of Tanit cult with a temple close to Juno's one (I remember Dido is "daughter" and First Priestess of Juno in Virgil's Poem), is the summa of this concept.

Thank you for your work, dear Editor.

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Ancient Abortion History

Page Summary:

While the attitudes toward abortion widely varied in the Ancient world, the historical evidence strongly suggests that abortion and infanticide were common practices. Below is a collection of written testimony to ancient views and methods of abortion from ancient Greek and Roman writers. Click on the links to read the quotations in their context.

Abortion is not a modern phenomenon. Surviving texts from the ancient Greco-Roman world reveal that ancient people were well-acquainted with abortion. It was discussed by doctors, philosophers, lawyers, historians, and poets. Some found the practice to be good and necessary. Others found the practice to be evil and contrary to nature. Those who promoted abortion had a variety of reasons: to prevent unwanted children, to reduce the number "weaker" children, to hide sexual activity, to prevent bodily disfigurement, to reduce the number of heirs, to avoid the expenses and burdens of child-rearing, etc. Those who sought abortions generally had two options: abortifacient drugs or crude surgery. Neither method was particularly safe. Those who condemned abortion often did so to protect the rights of the father and to spare a women from almost certain physical harm, even death. Occasionally, abortion was condemned based on the belief that what grows in the womb is a human being. The selections below contain ancient testimony to the ethics, frequency, and methods of abortion.

Abortion in Ancient Greece

Hippocrates (460-357 B.C.)

The Oath of Hippocrates (400 B.C.): &ldquoI swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius, and Health, and All-heal, and all the gods and goddesses, that, according to my ability and judgment, I will keep this Oath. . . I will follow that system of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the benefit of my patients, and abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous. I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel and in like manner I will not give to a woman a pessary to produce abortion.&rdquo The Oath gives evidence that the medical profession found certain abortion procedures to be wrong. However this may only be because certain procedures were dangerous and potentially deadly for the woman, while little concern was given to the fetus. Another text by Hippocrates (or possibly someone using his name as pseudonym) from &ldquoOn the Generating Seed and the Nature of the Child&rdquo evidences that at times abortion could be promoted: &ldquoIt was in the following way that I came to see a six-day-old embryo. A kinswomen of mine owned a very valuable danseuse, whom she employed as a prostitute. It was important that this girl should not become pregnant and therefore lose her value. Now this girl had heard the sort of thing women say to each other &ndash that when a woman is going to conceive, the seed remains inside her and does not fall out. She digested this information, and kept a watch. One day she noticed that the seed had not come out again. She told her mistress and the story came to me. When I heard it, I told her to jump up and down, touching her buttocks with her heels at each leap. After she had done this more than seven times, there was a noise, the seed fell out on the ground, and the girl looked at in great surprise. It was round, and red, and within the membrane could be seen thick white fibres, surrounded by a thick red serum while on the outer surface of the membrane were clots of blood."

Aphorisms, Section V, Part 31: "If a woman with child be bled, she will have an abortion, and this will be more likely to happen, the larger the foetus."

Plato (427-345 B.C.)

In his Republic, written around 360 B.C., Plato records a fictional conversation between Socrates and various others about what constitutes justice and it is argued that justice occurs when a person does what he does best for the interests of the State. In Book V, in a discussion about women and childbearing, Socrates recommends a kind of eugenics where certain fetuses should not be allowed to be born or should be killed after birth: &ldquo&hellipthe principle has been already laid down that the best of either sex should be united with the best as often, and the inferior with the inferior, as seldom as possible and that they should rear the offspring of the one sort of union, but not of the other, if the flock is to be maintained in first-rate condition&hellipAnd I think that our braver and better youth, besides their other honours and rewards, might have greater facilities of intercourse with women given them their bravery will be a reason, and such fathers ought to have as many sons as possible&hellip A woman, I said, at twenty years of age may begin to bear children to the State, and continue to bear them until forty a man may begin at five-and-twenty, when he has passed the point at which the pulse of life beats quickest, and continue to beget children until he be fifty-five&hellipa man may not marry his daughter or his daughter's daughter, or his mother or his mother's mother and women, on the other hand, are prohibited from marrying their sons or fathers, or son's son or father's father, and so on in either direction. And we grant all this, accompanying the permission with strict orders to prevent any embryo which may come into being from seeing the light and if any force a way to the birth, the parents must understand that the offspring of such an union cannot be maintained, and arrange accordingly.&rdquo

Aristotle (384-322 B.C.)

In his Politics, Book 7 section 1335b, written around 350 B.C., Aristotle suggested that laws should be made promoting abortion and the exposure of newborn children to limit children with deformities and to prevent overpopulation yet, he also drew a line between lawful and unlawful abortions: &ldquoAs to exposing or rearing the children born, let there be a law that no deformed child shall be reared but on the ground of number of children, if the regular customs hinder any of those born being exposed, there must be a limit fixed to the procreation of offspring, and if any people have a child as a result of intercourse in contravention of these regulations, abortion must be practised on it before it has developed sensation and life for the line between lawful and unlawful abortion will be marked by the fact of having sensation and being alive.&rdquo

Abortion in Ancient Rome

Cicero (106-43 B.C.)

In his speech, For Aulus Cluentius 11.32: "I recollect that a certain Milesian woman, when I was in Asia, because she had by medicines brought on abortion, having ben bribed to do so by the heirs in reversion, was convicted of a capital crime and rightly, in as much as she had destroyed the hope of the father, the memory of his name, the supply of his race, the heir of his family, a citizen intended for use of the republic. How much severer punishment does Oppianicus deserve for the same crime? For she, by doing this violence to her person, tortured her own body but he effected the same crime through the torture and death of another. Other men do not appear to be able to commit many atrocious murders on one individual, but Oppianicus has been found clever enough to destroy many lives in one body. "

Dionysius of Harlicarnassus (60 B.C.-7 B.C.)

In his Roman Antiquities, 2.15.1-2, he recalls childbearing laws given by Rome's founder: &ldquoBy these institutions Romulus sufficiently regulated and suitably disposed the city both for peace and for war: and he made it large and populous by the following means. In the first place, he obliged the inhabitants to bring up all their male children and the first-born of the females, and forbade them to destroy any children under three years of age unless they were maimed or monstrous from their very birth. These he did not forbid their parents to expose, provided they first showed them to their five nearest neighbours and these also approved. Against those who disobeyed this law he fixed various penalties, including the confiscation of half their property.&rdquo

Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17)

Amores 2.14 poetically speaks against abortion as an immoral practice (the translation from Latin to English attempts to capture its poetry):

What boots it that the fair are free from war, And what that they're forbid the shield to bear,
Against themselves if they knew arms employ And madly with new wounds their lives destroy?
The cruel mother who did first contrive Her babe to butcher ere 'twas scarce alive,
Who thus from nature's tender dictates swerv'd, To perish by her proper hands deserv'd.
Why do the sex forget their softness? why Such projects for a foolish fancy try?
The belly must be smooth, no wrinkle there To shock the lover's wanton glance appear
His touch as well as sight they fain would please, And the womb early of its burden ease.
Had woman sooner known this wicked trade, Among the race of men what havock had they made.
Mankind had been extinct, and lost the seed, Without a wonder to restore the breed,
As when Deucalion and his Purrha hurl'd The stones that sow'd with men the delug'd world,
Had Thetis, goddess of the sea, refus'd To bear the burden, and her fruit abus'd,
Who would have Priam's royal seat destroy'd? Or had the vestal whom fierce Mars enjoy'd,
Stifled the twins within her pergnant womb, What founder would have then been born to Rome?
Had Venus, when she with Aeneas teem'd, To death, ere born, Anchises' son condemn'd,
The world had of the Caesars been depriv'd Augustus ne'er had reign'd, nor Julius liv'd.
And thou, whose beauty is the boast of fame, Hadst perish'd, had thy mother done the same
Nor had I liv'd love's faithful slave to be, Had my own mother dealt as ill by me.
Ah, vile invention, ah, accurs'd design, To rob of rip'ning fruit the loaded vine
Ah, let it grow for nature's use mature, Ah, let it its full length of time endure
'Twill of itself, alas! too soon decay, And quickly fall, like autumn leaves, away
Why barb'rously dost thou thy bowels tear To kill the human load that quickens there?
On venom'd drugs why venture, to destroy The pledge of pleasure past, the promis'd boy?
Medea, guilty of her childrens' blood, The mark of ev'ry age's curse has stood
And Atys, murder'd by his mothers rage, Been pitied since by each succeeding age
Thy cruel parents by false lords abus'd, Had yet some plea, tho' none their crime excus'd.
What, Jason, did your dire revenge provoke? What, Tereus, urge you to the fatal stroke?
What rage your reason led so far away, As furious hands upon yourself to lay?
The tigresses that haunt th' Armenian wood, Will spare their proper young, though pinch'd for food
Nor will the Libyan lionesses slay Their whelps, -- but woman are more fierce than they
More barb'rous to the tender fruit they bear, Nor nature's call, tho' loud she cries, will hear.
But righteous vengeance oft their crimes pursues, And they are lost themselves, who would their children lose
The pois'nous drugs with mortal juices fill Their veins, and, undesign'd, themselves they kill
Themselves upon the bier are breathless borne, With hair tied up that was in ringlets worn,
Thro' weeping crowds that on their course attend Well may they weep for their unhappy end.
Forbid it, heaven, that what I say may prove Presaging to the fair I blame and love
Thus let me ne'er, ye pow'rs, her death deplore, 'Twas her first fault, and she'll offend no more
No pardon she'll deserve a second time, But, without mercy, punish then her crime.

Heroides XI: Canace to Marcareus, lines 11.33-42, poetically speaks of a failed abortion attempt:

My nurse, with her old woman's soul, first divined my trouble

My nurse first said to me, "Daughter of Aeolus, you are in love!"
I blushed, and shame took my eyes down to my lap
These signs were enough that I confessed in silence.
And now the burden swelled my corrupted womb,
And the secret load pressed my sickly limbs.
What herbs, what medicines did my nurse not bring to me,
And put on with bold hand,
In order to strike out from my entrails--we hid this one thing from you--
The weight that was growing deep within.
Ah, too vigorous, the infant resisted the arts brought against it,
And was safe from the hidden enemy.

Seneca (3 B.C.-A.D. 65)

In De ira (On Anger) , 1.15, he mentions the common practice of infanticide: &ldquoFor what reason have I for hating a man to whom I am offering the greatest service when I save him from himself? Does a man hate the members of his own body when he uses the knife upon them? There is no anger there, but the pitying desire to heal. Mad dogs we knock on the head the fierce and savage ox we slay sickly sheep we put to the knife to keep them from infecting the flock unnatural progeny we destroy we drown even children who at birth are weakly and abnormal. &rdquo

In a letter to his mother, To Helvia His Mother on Consolation 16.3, he praises her for not aborting: &ldquoUnchastity, the greatest evil of our time, has never classed you with the great majority of women jewels have not moved you, nor pearls to your eyes the glitter of riches has not seemed the greatest boon of the human race you, who were soundly trained in an old-fashioned and strict household, have not been perverted by the imitation of worse women that leads even the virtuous into pitfalls you have never blushed for the number of your children, as if it taunted you with your years, never have you, in the manner of other women whose only recommendation lies in their beauty, tried to conceal your pregnancy as if an unseemly burden, nor have you ever crushed the hope of children that were being nurtured in your body you have not defiled your face with paints and cosmetics never have you fancied the kind of dress that exposed no greater nakedness by being removed. In you has been seen that peerless ornament, that fairest beauty on which time lays no hand, that chiefest glory which is modesty.&rdquo

Pliny the Elder (A.D. 23-79)

In his The Natural History, he discusses causes and preventatives of abortion, the morality of abortion, various contraceptives, etc.:

Book VII, Chapter IV: &ldquoPregnant women, on the other hand, are in the greatest danger during the fourth and the eighth month, and abortions during these periods are fatal.&rdquo

Book VII, Chapter V: &ldquo. and abortion ensues, if the female should happen to sneeze just after the sexual congress. It is a subject for pity, and even for a feeling of shame, when one reflects that the origin of the most vain of all animated beings is thus frail: so much so, indeed, that very often the smell even of a lamp just extinguished is a cause of abortion.&rdquo

Book VII, Chapter XII: &ldquoA child used to be called Vopiscus, who, when twins had been conceived, had been retained in the womb and born alive, the other having perished by abortion. There are, too, some very remarkable instances of this kind, although they are singularly rare and uncommon.&rdquo

Book X, Chapter 83: &ldquoThe only one among the bipeds that is viviparous is man. Man is the only animal that repents of his first embraces sad augury, indeed, of life, that its very origin should thus cause repentance! Other animals have stated times in the year for their embraces but man, as we have already observed, employs for this purpose all hours both of day and night other animals become sated with venereal pleasures, man hardly knows any satiety. Messalina, the wife of Claudius Cæsar, thinking this a palm quite worthy of an empress, selected, for the purpose of deciding the question, one of the most notorious of the women who followed the profession of a hired prostitute and the empress outdid her, after continuous intercourse, night and day, at the twenty-fifth embrace. In the human race also, the men have devised various substitutes for the more legitimate exercise of passion, all of which outrage Nature while the females have recourse to abortion. How much more guilty than the brute beasts are we in this respect! Hesiod has stated that men are more lustful in winter, women in summer.&rdquo

Book XXIX, Chapter 27: &ldquoA third kind, also known as the 'phalangium,' is a spider with a hairy body, and a head of enormous size. When opened, there are found in it two small worms, they say: these, attached in a piece of deer's skin, before sunrise, to a woman's body, will prevent conception&hellip"

Book XXX, Chapter 43: &ldquoThe ashes of a burnt poricupinel taken in drink, are a preventive of abortion: bitches' milk facilitates delivery: and the after- birth of a bitch, provided it has not touched the ground, will act as an expellent of the f&oeligtus. Milk, taken as a drink, strengthens the loins of women when in travail. Mouse-dung, diluted with rain water, reduces the breasts of females, when swollen after delivery. The ashes of a burnt hedge-hog, applied with oil, act as a preventive of abortion&hellip If a pregnant woman steps over a viper, she will be sure to miscarry.&rdquo

Book XXXI, Chapter VII: &ldquoThe waters of Thespiæ ensure conception to females the same, too, with those of the river Elatus in Arcadia. The spring Linus, also in Arcadia, acts as a preservative of the f&oeligtus, and effectually prevents abortion. The waters of the river Aphrodisius, on the other hand, in the territory of Pyrrhsæa, are productive of sterility.&rdquo

Musonius Rufus (A.D. 20/30-101) Discourse 12-15: Forthcoming.

Dioscorides (A.D. 40-90)

Dio Chrysostom (A.D. 40-120)

In his Discourses, Fifteenth Discourse: On Slavery and Freedom II, he mentions how poor slaves who have become pregnant by their masters often sought to get abortions in secret: &ldquo&hellipbut in the case of slave women, on the other hand, some destroy the child before birth and others afterwards, if they can do so without being caught, and yet sometimes even with the connivance of their husband, that they may not be involved in trouble by being compelled to raise children in addition to their enduring slavery."

Plutarch (A.D. 46-120)

In the biography, Romulus 22.3, he recounts a law from Romulus where a husband could divorce his wife for using "poisons," i.e., drugs that cause abortion: &ldquoHe also enacted certain laws, and among them one of severity, which forbids a wife to leave her husband, but permits a husband to put away his wife for using poisons, for substituting children, and for adultery but if a man for any other reason sends his wife away, the law prescribes that half his substance shall belong to his wife, and the other half be consecrate to Ceres and whosoever puts away his wife, shall make a sacrifice to the gods of the lower world.&rdquo

Juvenal (A.D. 57/67-127)

In his Satires he presents an unfavorable view of abortion:

2.29-35: &ldquoSuch a man was that adulterer who, after lately defiling himself by a union of the tragic style, revived the stern laws that were to be a terror to all men-ay, even to Mars and Venus-at the moment when Julia was relieving her fertile womb and giving birth to abortions that displayed the similitude of her uncle. Is it not then right and proper that the very worst of sinners should despise your pretended Scauri, and bite back when bitten?"

6.592-601: &ldquoThese poor women, however, endure the perils of child-birth, and all the troubles of nursing to which their lot condemns them but how often does a gilded bed contain a woman that is lying in? So great is the skill, so powerful the drugs, of the abortionist, paid to murder mankind within the womb. Rejoice, poor wretch give her the stuff to drink whatever it be, with your own hand: for were she willing to get big and trouble her womb with bouncing babes, you might perhaps find yourself the father of an Ethiopian and some day a coloured heir, whom you would rather not meet by daylight, would fill all the places in your will.&rdquo

Suetonius (A.D. 69/75-130)

In his discussion on the Emperor Domition in The Twelve Caesars, Domition 22 (or Domition 22), he recalls an incident where the Emperor compelled a lover to get an abortion: &ldquoHe was excessively lustful. His constant sexual intercourse he called bed-wrestling, as if it were a kind of exercise. It was reported that he depilated his concubines with his own hand and swam with common prostitutes. After persistently refusing his niece, who was offered him in marriage when she was still a maid, because he was entangled in an intrigue with Domitia, he seduced her shortly afterwards when she became the wife of another, and that too during the lifetime of Titus. Later, when she was bereft of father and husband, he loved her ardently and without disguise, and even became the cause of her death by compelling her to get rid of a child of his by abortion.&rdquo

Favorinus (A.D. 80-150)

In Noctes Atticae ("Attic Nights") 12.1, the Roman writer Aulus Gellius spoke of how the philosopher Favorinus viewed women who aborted to spare their own beauty: "For it is for that reason (though such a thing is of course far from your thoughts) that many of those unnatural women try to dry up and check that sacred fount of the body, the nourisher of mankind, regardless of the danger of diverting and spoiling the milk, because they think it disfigures the charms of their beauty. In so doing they show the same madness as those who strive by evil devices to cause abortion of the fetus itself which they have conceived, in order that their beauty may not be spoiled by the labour of parturition. 9 But since it is an act worthy of public detestation and general abhorrence to destroy a human being in its inception, while it is being fashioned and given life and is still in the hands of Dame Nature, how far does it differ from this to deprive a child, already perfect, of the nourishment of its own familiar and kindred blood?&rdquo

Soranus (A.D. 98-117)

In his Gynecology 3.19.60 (not online), he sanctioned murdering babies not fit for rearing.

Galen of Pergamum (A.D. 129-200)

On Natural Faculties, Book 3, Part 12: &ldquoNow abortifacient drugs or certain other conditions which destroy the embryo or rupture certain of its membranes are followed by abortion, and similarly also when the uterus is in pain from being in a bad state of tension and, as has been well said by Hippocrates, excessive movement on the part of the embryo itself brings on labour.&rdquo

Papinian (A.D. 140-212)

Oribasius (A.D. 320-400)

Justinian Digest 25.4.1.1 35.2.9.1 37.9.1.15 38.8.1.8 47 48.8.8 48.19.38.5 48.19.39

This page was last updated on April 20, 2009. To cite this page in a research paper, visit: "Citing Abort73 as a Source."


Renaissance and Reformation

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries there was a concerted effort to stem the practice of infanticide throughout Europe. Despite a dramatic surge in reported cases, it is not clear whether or not the increase meant more frequent practice urbanization undoubtedly made it more difficult to destroy infants secretly. Authorities were more successful at promulgating harsh legislation aimed at ending the practice and were also increasingly vigilant in prosecuting murdering mothers. An intense focus on the problems of poverty and sexual promiscuity and their purported ties to infanticide led to laws that were strongly moral in tone and selective against unmarried mothers.

The first attempt to strengthen and unify infanticide laws under the Holy Roman Empire was a statute known as the Carolina, issued in 1532 by Emperor Charles V. The law decreed that those found guilty were to be buried alive, or impaled, or drowned. The law also made concealment of pregnancy a crime, as it was presumed that such secrecy indicated infanticidal intentions. Many judges, under the pretext of the Carolina, "engaged in a policy of terror," the most notorious being the Saxon jurist Benedict Carpozof, who claimed that he assisted in the executions of 20,000 women (Piers, p. 69). The Carolina was only the first in a series of laws over the next few centuries that dealt severely with alleged infanticidal mothers.

In England Henry VIII's split from the Roman Catholic church resulted in increased secular control. Growing concern about sexual immorality and criminality among the swelling numbers of urban poor led to the enactment of several social control laws. The Poor Law of 1576 (18 Eliz. I, c.3) made bearing bastard children a crime. The fact that punishment was severe and involved substantial social dis-grace for the mother increased the incentive for these women to commit infanticide. It is not surprising, therefore, that English criminal court records show that the number of indictments and guilty verdicts for infanticide rose dramatically after 1576. Most cases involved bastard children, and concealment of pregnancy was mentioned frequently (Hoffer and Hull).

The reasons for the increased zeal in punishing illegitimacy are somewhat obscure, but Puritan interests seem to have played a role. The 1623 Jacobean infanticide statute (21 Jac. I, c.27), influenced by the Puritan element in parliament, allowed courts to convict on the basis of circumstantial evidence of concealment and prior sexual misconduct. The law presumed that the child was born alive and then killed unless the mother could prove otherwise. Prosecutions of infanticide showed a fourfold increase immediately following its enactment (Hoffer and Hull).

Ideas about the role of witches in the death of infants, even the deaths of children in foundling hospitals, persisted. Infanticide and witchcraft were so strongly interrelated during this period that their rates of indictments rose and fell in parallel. Witchcraft continued to play a major part in the drama of infanticide until the early 1800s.

Foundling hospitals continued to remove unwanted and abandoned children from public view throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. As in earlier centuries, the fate of these children was precarious. Overcrowded conditions, disease, lack of enough wet nurses, and general neglect continued to claim the lives of many of the institutions's charges.

The overwhelming majority of the victims of infanticide during this period were children born out of wedlock. Demographic information does not show the strong gender bias seen in the medieval years, nor is there evidence that defective newborns were consistently selected out. Apparently the shame associated with immoral sexual behavior was the primary selective force associated with the killing of infants.


Ancient Greece

What military technique helped Sparta become so strong?

Who fought against who in the Peloponnesian Wars

military technique that helped Sparta become so strong: Phalanx

Peloponnesian Wars: Sparta vs. Athens

At Thermopylae, stood their ground against Persians, all died, but Persians never reached Sparta

Athens, helots, and Persians posed threats to Sparta

population of Spart was mostly Helots, fewer pure Spartans

Peloponnese: Peninsula in southern Greece where Sparta was

city-state: Independent city in Greece

Phalanx: A battle formation in which they locked shields together and had swords and spears

Helots: Foreign conquered people, considered enemy from w/in, not slaves but not free. Gave half of what they grew to Spartans

Spartiates: Pure Spartans, owned land

Spartan boys spent 13 years in the agoge

evidence that Spartan boys developed stronger attachment to their agoge groups than to their families:
-barely spent time with family
-With agoge for longer

Spartan values suggested by document:
-Strength, bravery, cunning, obedience, nationalism, courage, leadership, loyalty

Strengths of Spartan education:
-Strength, militaristic training, athletic
-Know how to fight, survive better
-Strong, survival skills, able to prevent rebellion
-Offspring may have been stronger b/c women were strong

Weaknesses of Spartan education:
-Don't get a real education
-get whipped for trying to eat
-taken from families so early
-taught to be thieves
-no morals
-Being starved, not healthy
-Hungry, bad morals, no luxuries, gross food, nothing to live for but war
-Hard to get allies, everyone hates them, they kill people
-Only strength education, regulated marriages

Clothing worn by Spartan boys:
One garment throughout the year

Reason for small rations of food:
So they could go longer w/out food, be able to fight, etc. while hungry

Reason for encouraging boys to steal:
Know how to plan, be resourceful, figure out a way to get food if they didn't have it

Reason for whipping boys who were caught stealing:
They got caught, so they didn't know how to steal well enough

Krypteia:
The most sensible of young Spartiates, law enforcement officers, carried daggers and food, killed helots

Plutarch's reason for killing helot's:
-So they wouldn't rebel
-display of dominance

Spartan children taught:
1. the importance of reading was only for practical reasons
2. Treatment of a boy or man who's older than you: Respect, obedience, regard for them
3. working w/ hands: Not important, helots for that
4. Importance of money: no jobs, Helots for that
5. travel: Not important,
couldn't leave, not
allowed
6. attending plays: Didn't attend them
7. music: Used for dancing,
fighting

Sparta always concerned about being attacked. Spartan attitude towards the seven topics mentioned above address this concern about security by:
-Had no interaction w/ outsiders outside of war, didn't know there was life aside from that

Judging from Document D, were strengths of Spartan educations greater than weaknesses? explain
No

Description of figure of female Spartan dance shown: athletic

The Land
-Rugged mountains that covered about three-fourths of ancient Greece divided the land into a number of different regions, significantly influencing Greek political life
-Instead of a single government, the Greeks developed small, independent communities within each little valley and its surrounding mountains
-Most Greeks gave their loyalty to these local communities.

-In ancient times, the uneven terrain also made land transportation difficult
-few roads existed
-It often took travelers several days to complete a journey that might take a few hours today

-Much of the land itself was stony, and only a small part of it was arable (suitable for farming)
-Tiny but fertile valleys covered about one-fourth of Greece

Thermopylae:
-When Xerxes came to a narrow mountain pass at Thermopylae, 7,000 Greeks, including 300 Spartans, blocked his way
-Xerxes assumed that his troops would easily push the Greeks aside, but he underestimated their fighting ability
-The Greeks stopped the Persian advance for three days
-Only a traitor's informing the Persians about a secret path around the pass ended their brave stand
-Spartans held the Persians back so the other Greek forces could retreat

Salamis:
-evacuated Athens and fought at sea
-positioned their fleet in a narrow channel near the island of Salamis, a few miles southwest of Athens
-warships sent to block both ends of the channel, but the channel was very narrow, and the Persian ships had difficulty turning
-Smaller Greek ships armed with battering rams attacked, puncturing the hulls of many Persian warships
-over one-third of the fleet sank

Plataea:
-another defeat when the Greeks crushed the Persian army at the Battle of Plataea

-After this major setback, the Persians were always on the defensive
-The following year, several Greek city-states formed an alliance called the Delian League. (The alliance took its name from Delos, the island in the Aegean Sea where it had its headquarters)
-League members continued to press the war against the Persians for several more years
-In time, they drove the Persians from the territories surrounding Greece and ended the threat of future attacks.

Sparta:
-Sparta was nearly cut off from the rest of Greece by the Gulf of Corinth
-In outlook and values, Sparta contrasted sharply with the other city-states, Athens in particular
-Instead of a democracy, Sparta built a military state

Sparta Dominates Messenians
-Around 725 B.C., Sparta conquered the neighboring region of Messenia and took over the land
-The Messenians became helots, peasants forced to stay on the land they worked
-Each year, the Spartans demanded half of the helots' crops
-In about 650 B.C., the Messenians, resentful of the Spartans' harsh rule, revolted
-The Spartans, who were outnumbered eight to one, just barely put down the revolt
-Shocked at their vulnerability, they dedicated themselves to making Sparta a strong city-state

Sparta's Government and Society
-Spartan government had several branches
-An assembly, which was composed of all Spartan citizens, elected officials and voted on major issues
-The Council of Elders, made up of 30 older citizens, proposed laws on which the assembly voted
Five elected officials carried out the laws passed by the assembly
-These men also controlled education and prosecuted court cases
-two kings ruled over Sparta's military forces
-Spartan social order consisted of several groups:
-1st: citizens descended from the original inhabitants of the region included the ruling families who owned the land
-2nd: noncitizens who were free, worked in commerce and industry
-The helots, at the bottom of Spartan society, were little better than slaves worked in the fields or as house servants.

Struggles between rich and poor led Athens to become a democracy

-The idea of representative government began to take root in some city-states, particularly Athens
-Like other city-states, Athens went through power struggles between rich and poor
- Athenians avoided major political upheavals by making timely reforms
-Athenian reformers moved toward democracy, rule by the people
-citizens participated directly in political decision making.

Building Democracy
Draco: The first step toward democracy came when a nobleman named Draco took power
-he developed a legal code based on the idea that all Athenians, rich and poor, were equal under the law. His code dealt very harshly with criminals, making death the punishment for practically every crime. It also upheld such practices as debt slavery, in which debtors worked as slaves to repay their debts.

Solon: More far-reaching democratic reforms were introduced by him
Stating that no citizen should own another citizen, Solon outlawed debt slavery
He organized all Athenian citizens into four social classes according to wealth
Only members of the top three classes could hold political office
all citizens, regardless of class, could participate in the Athenian assembly
introduced the legal concept that any citizen could bring charges against wrongdoers

Battle at Marathon
The Persian Wars, between Greece and the Persian Empire, began in Ionia on the coast of Anatolia. Greeks had long been settled there, but the Persians conquered the area. When Ionian Greeks revolted, Athens sent ships and soldiers to their aid. The Persian king Darius the Great defeated the rebels and then vowed to destroy Athens in revenge. A Persian fleet carried 25,000 men across the Aegean Sea and landed northeast of Athens on a plain called Marathon. There, 10,000 Athenians, neatly arranged in phalanxes, waited for them. Vastly outnumbered, the Greek soldiers charged. The Persians, who wore light armor and lacked training in this kind of land combat, were no match for the disciplined Greek phalanx. After several hours, the Persians fled the battlefield. The Persians lost more than 6,000 men. In contrast,
Athenian casualties numbered fewer than 200.

Pheidippides Brings News
Though the Athenians won the battle, their city now stood defenseless. According to tradition, army leaders chose a young runner named Pheidippides to race back to Athens. He brought news of the Persian defeat so that Athenians would not give up the city without a fight. Dashing the 26 miles from Marathon to Athens, Pheidippides delivered his message, "Rejoice, we conquer." He then collapsed and died. Moving rapidly from Marathon, the Greek army arrived in Athens not long after. When the Persians sailed into the harbor, they found the city heavily defended. They quickly put to sea in retreat.

Pericles' goal was to have the greatest Greek artists and architects create magnificent sculptures and buildings to glorify Athens

Tragedy:
A tragedy was a serious drama about common themes such as love, hate, war, or betrayal. These dramas featured a main character, or tragic hero. The hero usually was an important person and often gifted with extraordinary abilities. A tragic flaw usually caused the hero's downfall. Often this flaw was hubris, or excessive pride.

Sparta declared war on Athens

-Athens had the stronger navy

-Sparta had the stronger army
-its location inland meant that it could not easily be attacked by sea

-Pericles' strategy was to avoid land battles with the Spartan army and wait for an opportunity to strike Sparta and its allies from the sea
-Eventually, the Spartans marched into Athenian territory, sweeping over the countryside, burning the Athenian food supply
-Pericles responded by bringing residents from the surrounding region inside the city walls
-The city was safe from hunger as long as ships could sail into port with supplies from Athenian colonies and foreign states
- In the second year of the war disaster struck Athens
A frightful plague swept through the city, killing perhaps one-third of the population, including Pericles
-Although weakened, Athens continued to fight for several years
-Then the two sides, worn down by the war, signed a truce

Athenian and United States Democracy:
Athenian Democracy:
• Citizens: male 18 years old born of citizen parents
• Laws voted on and proposed directly by assembly of all citizens
• Leader chosen by lot
• Executive branch composed of a council of 500 men
• Juries varied in size
• No attorneys no appeals one-day trials

Both:
• Political power exercised by citizens
• Three branches of government
• Legislative branch passes laws
• Executive branch carries out laws
• Judicial branch conducts trials with paid jurors

-Greece had three notable dramatists who wrote tragedies
-Aeschylus wrote over 80 plays
-His most famous work is the trilogy Oresteia, based on the family of Agamemnon, the Mycenaean king who commanded the Greeks at Troy
-the plays examine the idea of justice

-Sophocles wrote more than 100 plays, including the tragedies Oedipus the King and Antigone

Peloponnesian War
When the Peloponnesian War between the two city-states began, Athens had the stronger navy. Sparta had the stronger army, and its location inland meant that it could not easily be attacked by sea. Pericles' strategy was to avoid land battles with the Spartan army and wait for an opportunity to strike Sparta and its allies from the sea.
Eventually, the Spartans marched into Athenian territory. They swept over the countryside, burning the Athenian food supply. Pericles responded by bringing res- idents from the surrounding region inside the city walls. The city was safe from hunger as long as ships could sail into port with supplies from Athenian colonies and foreign states.
In the second year of the war, however, disaster struck Athens. A frightful plague swept through the city, killing perhaps one-third of the population, including Pericles. Although weakened, Athens continued to fight for several years. Then, in 421 B.C., the two sides, worn down by the war, signed a truce.

-A student of Socrates
-was in his late 20s when his teacher died
- Later, Plato wrote down the conversations of Socrates "as a means of philosophical investigation."
-The Republic was his most famous work
in it, he set forth his vision of a perfectly governed society
-It was not a democracy
-In his ideal society, all citizens would fall naturally into three groups:
1) farmers and artisans
2) warriors
3) ruling class
-person w/ greatest insight and intellect from ruling class would be chosen philosopher-king

Philip's Army
After becoming king of Macedonia, quickly proved to be a brilliant general and a ruthless politician
Philip transformed the rugged peasants under his command into a well-trained professional army
organized his troops into phalanxes of 16 men across and 16 deep, each one armed with an 18-foot pike
used this heavy phalanx formation to break through enemy lines
Then used fast-moving cavalry to crush his disorganized opponents
After employing these tactics successfully against northern opponents, Philip began to prepare an invasion of Greece

after his father was stabbed to death by a former guardsman, Alexander immediately proclaimed himself king of Macedonia.
Because of his accomplishments over the next 13 years, he became known as Alexander the Great.

Alexander Defeats Persia
Although he was only 20 years old when he became king, he was well prepared to lead
Under Aristotle's teaching, Alexander had learned science, geography, and literature
Alexander especially enjoyed Homer's description of the heroic deeds performed by Achilles during the Trojan War
As a young boy, Alexander learned to ride a horse, use weapons, and command troops
Once he became king, Alexander promptly demonstrated that his military training had not been wasted. When the people of Thebes rebelled, he destroyed the city
About 6,000 Thebans were killed
The survivors were sold into slavery
Frightened by his cruelty, the other Greek city-states quickly gave up any idea of rebellion

Invasion of Persia
With Greece now secure, he felt free to carry out his father's plan to invade and conquer Persia
led 35,000 soldiers across the Hellespont into Anatolia.
Persian messengers raced along the Royal Road to spread news of the invasion
army of about 40,000 men rushed to defend Persia
two forces met at the Granicus River
Instead of waiting for the Persians to make the first move, Alexander ordered his cavalry to attack
Leading his troops into battle, Alexander smashed the Persian defenses
Alexander's victory at Granicus alarmed the Persian
king, Darius III
Vowing to crush the invaders, he raised a huge army of between 50,000 and 75,000 men to face the
Macedonians near Issus
Realizing that he was outnumbered, Alexander surprised his enemies
ordered his finest troops to break through a weak point in the Persian lines
army then charged straight at Darius
To avoid capture, Darius fled, followed by his army
This victory gave Alexander control over Anatolia

Conquering the Persian Empire
Darius tried to negotiate a peace settlement
offered Alexander all of his lands west of the Euphrates River
Alexander's advisers urged him to accept
the rapid collapse of Persian resistance fired Alexander's ambition
rejected Darius's offer
announced his plan to conquer the entire Persian Empire

Alexander marched into Egypt, a Persian territory
The Egyptians welcomed Alexander as a liberator
crowned him pharaoh—or god-king
During his time in Egypt, Alexander founded the city of Alexandria at the mouth of the Nile
After leaving Egypt, Alexander moved east into Mesopotamia to confront Darius, who assembled a force of some 250,000 men
The two armies met at Gaugamela, a small village near the ruins of ancient Nineveh
Alexander launched a massive phalanx attack followed by a cavalry charge
the Persian lines crumbled,
Darius again fled
Alexander's victory at Gaugamela ended Persia's power
Later, Alexander's army occupied Babylon, Susa, and Persepolis
These cities yielded a huge treasure, which Alexander distributed among his army
A few months after it was occupied, Persepolis, Persia's royal capital, burned to the ground
Some people said Alexander left the city in ashes to signal the total destruction of the Persian Empire
Greek historian Arrian, writing about 500 years after Alexander's time, suggested that the fire was set in revenge for the Persian burning of Athens
the cause of the fire remains a mystery.


10 Common Misconceptions About the Ancient Greeks

The age in which the Ancient Greeks flourished remains an incredibly revered part of history they&rsquore known for laying the foundations for much of our modern knowledge of medicine, mathematics, philosophy, politics, and culture. It is understandable then, that a culture as well known as that of the Ancient Greeks would have many popular myths surrounding it&mdashmyths which are either misleading half-truths, or else completely untrue. Below are ten of the more common misconceptions people retain in regards to Greek culture.

The Greeks&rsquo war with the Trojans is still one of the most famous stories in the world and the expression &ldquoTrojan Horse&rdquo has become well-known for meaning a sneak attack disguised as a gift. The legend of Achilles also stems from this war, and created the expression &ldquoAchilles&rsquo heel&rdquo&mdashbut the thing is, there is no reason to believe that the Trojan War ever happened.

Historians&mdashafter much research&mdashhave found remnants of what they believe might have once been Troy, and believe that the city could have been attacked and possibly pillaged at some point&mdashbut there is no evidence to support all of the popular mythology in regards to the war story. All historians can say for certain is that there might have been a siege laid on a city of Troy.

The Battle of Thermopylae has been made popular by movies such as 300 &mdashbut historically, the movie is not really all that accurate. Many people believe that the Spartans defending the pass saved Greece, but that&rsquos not exactly true.

Even though Xerxes&rsquo men were somewhat delayed, they still managed to do great damage to Greece, and only retreated after a failed naval battle. Furthermore, the movie depicts only three hundred brave Spartans standing up to the entire Persian army, which is also inaccurate. When the battle started the Spartan force actually had seven thousand people backing them up. On the last day of the battle they were still fourteen hundred strong&mdashthree hundred of them were Spartans, sure, but there were also four hundred Thebans, seven hundred Thespians and eighty Mycenaeans.

This is not to say that the Spartans did not show bravery&mdashjust that their significance was greatly distorted.

The modern idea of a Spartan soldier is one who does absolutely nothing else but train to fight and kill people, preferably coming home either with their shield or upon it. Many people get the idea that young Spartan warriors spent all their time training and never really had any exposure to women while young, but this is not true.

Young Spartans, while engaged in their military education, still spent much time in activities around girls their age while growing up. The truth is also that Spartan warriors did not just fight and train they also sang, danced and performed in plays. Spartan men also educated young Spartans when they got too old to fight themselves their lives weren&rsquot merely an endless fight until they died.

Many people think of women in the ancient world as being subservient to men, but nowhere was this less true than in Sparta. Spartan women had to do pretty much everything while the men were off fighting, and they were incredibly respected and powerful in Spartan society. Aristotle even wrote mockingly in regards to the high place women had in Spartan society, and their ability to own land.

Spartan women were expected to do most of the child raising, were encouraged to be intellectual and to learn about the arts&mdashand in fact they owned a very large portion of the land in Sparta. It is the stuff of legend that an Athenian woman once asked a Spartan queen why Spartan women were the only women allowed to rule men. The Spartan queen responded: &ldquoBecause we are the only women who give birth to men.&rdquo

The Greeks&mdashespecially the Athenians&mdashwere well known for being &ldquoboy lovers,&rdquo or at least that&rsquos what many seem to think. It&rsquos become a common trope to equate pedophilia with the men of Ancient Athens. But the issue is quite a complicated one, certainly much less simple than saying that they either &ldquodid&rdquo or &ldquodidn&rsquot&rdquo make love to young boys.

Some believe that pederasty&mdashthe relationship between an experienced man and a young one&mdashmay have been more of an intellectual mentor relationship, whereby the elder male helped a younger one find his place in society.

Many people have misconceptions about Ancient Greek theatre, which often entertained very large groups of people, usually during important festivals. A lot of people misunderstand what the ancient dramas were actually like. The truth is that the theatre productions in Ancient Greece were very symbolic to understand a play, you had to have some knowledge of the symbolic significance and mythical background underlying nearly every part of the dialogue. The plays actually included audience participation&mdashmuch like modern stand-up comedy&mdashand were originally part of religious rites in honor of the Gods.

The Ancient Olympic Games were so popular that they are still held (in a slightly different form, it must be said) around the world today. But there are some common beliefs about these games which are inaccurate. For starters, many people think of them as existing only in very ancient times&mdashbut they were still played even during Roman rule for many years, until Theodosius did away with them in an effort to ensure that Christianity triumph as the religion of the Roman Empire.

Also, women were actually not allowed to watch the Olympic Games at all. The Olympians usually competed while completely nude, and would cover themselves in olive oil to improve the quality of their skin and to make themselves more visually appealing.

Many of the Greek statues were actually taken from Greece and put in the British Museum in the 1800s, and many of the rest have been damaged either by violence or simple wear and tear, making them hard to recognize. The common conception of Greek statues&mdashand architecture, for that matter&mdashis that they appeared unpainted, and that civic squares would flash in the sunlight with brilliant white marble.

But it turns out that the statues and temples are only white because the paint faded from them over time originally, they were incredibly bright and vibrant. Many of these statues also had bronze attachments and black stone inlaid in white to make eyes stand out more. You can see a variety of other statues in what is likely to be their original form here.

While we all know that the Ancient Greeks were skilled at art, mathematics, philosophy, and many other pursuits, many of us don&rsquot realize how technologically advanced they were.

In the early 1900s, a diver exploring near the island of Antikthyera found several old green lumps of stone that had once been part of a mechanical device. Scientists studied the device, which they have dubbed the &ldquoAntikthyera Mechanism,&rdquo and discovered that it was capable of quite a few interesting feats.

The device could predict solar eclipses, and was capable of keeping track of the Olympiad calendar cycle. It seems to have had complicated dials and to have kept in sync with both the moon and the sun&mdashmaking it the first computer. Recent findings suggest that it may have been built by Archimedes, who is well-known for being a mathematical genius.

Many people have the mistaken notion that Greeks invented modern democracy, and this belief has become incredibly pervasive. But Athenian democracy was very different from any democratic institution today. It was actually one of the few examples of direct democracy in history, in which nearly all matters of policy were voted on (in theory, at least) by all Athenian citizens.

If that sounds reasonable, bear in mind that the citizenship excluded women and slaves, and that foreign-born citizens were also ineligible for the vote. Many among the poor were also unable to take the time away from work necessary to get involved. This effectively meant that only free, adult, and relatively well-off males born in Athens were able to participate&mdashwhich isn&rsquot exactly representative of the whole population&rsquos interests. Athenian democracy did have its good points, though, especially when you consider the tyrannous political systems which existed in other parts of Greece at the time. It was an important political innovation, that those who voted did not have to be particularly rich or aristocratic to take part in the most important decision-making.


18 Examples of Crime and Punishment in the Ancient Persian Empire

The Persian Empire was actually a series of empires, ruled by a string of imperial dynasties for more nearly two and a half millennia beginning six hundred years before the Common Era. It was centered in modern day Iran. Five separate dynasties ruled the lands occupied by the Persians beginning with the Achaemenid dynasty led by Cyrus the Great, who conquered the ancient lands of the Babylonians, Lydians and Medians. At its height it ruled over much of the ancient Middle East. It was the first Persian Empire, and it lasted until the lands were conquered by Alexander the Great. Its ceremonial capital was the opulent city of Persepolis, and its laws were enacted and enforced by multiple state governments.

A woodcut of Cyrus the Great of Persia, from about 1480. Wikimedia

The first Persian Empire and its subsequent dynasties which restored it generally did not condone slavery, other than prisoners of war, unusual for the time and the region, and also liberated the Jewish people from their Babylonian exile. It and its followers made substantial contributions to art, the sciences, and according to a 5 th century observation by Herodotus taught their young to follow strict honesty in their dealings with others. Herodotus wrote that the most disgraceful act capable of being committed was to lie, and lying in the Persian realms was often a capital crime, punishable by death. Lying was just one of many capital crimes, and execution was performed in manners which included great suffering preceding death, often for many days.

Here is a list of crime and punishment in the five individual dynasties which comprised the Persian Empire.

In this depiction, a hostage with his feet to the fire is about to undergo impalement. Wikimedia

1. The ancient Persian word for punishment meant to question

In a society where lying was regarded as a crime for which the miscreant uttering falsehoods could be put to death, punishment was equated with interrogation. Thus torture was a means of both extracting truthful information and a process leading to death. The Persians created numerous means of torturing those convicted of crimes and those suspected of them, in ghastly and gruesome methods. Lying was but one of many capital crimes, and there were severe penalties for all of them. There were also penalties for lesser crimes, which left the criminal convicted of them marked in a manner through which he was easily identifiable.

Thieves and strong-armed robbers were liable to having their hands amputated. Feet were amputated for several crimes, and those convicted of following liars had their ears cut off. Some were blinded with needles which were used to pierce their eyes. Not only robbers but beggars were subject to having their hands cut off by order of local magistrates. They were also subject to whipping, called striping, with each blow of the whip counting as one stripe. Punishments of up to ten thousand stripes were ordered, indicating that they had to be carried out over a period of many days as no human could survive so many blows at one punishment, nor could one individual deal them out.



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