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Did the ancient Greeks kill weak and sick babies?

3 mins read
Did the ancient Greeks kill weak and sick babies?

Did the ancient Greeks kill weak and sick babies?

The famous Greek philosopher Plutarch’s claim that weak or disabled babies were killed in Ancient Greek society was investigated.

In his biographical work, The Life of Lycurgus, written around 100 AD, Plutarch said that 700 years ago, newborn babies were handed over to a council of elders for inspection in the ancient Greek state of Sparta.

The philosopher argued that “fit and strong” babies survived, but those who were found to be weak and disabled were left to die outside “on the ground that living their natural life poorly equipped was neither better for them nor for the city”.

Did the ancient Greeks kill weak and sick babies?About 2,000 years later, this story became a common idea of ​​Ancient Greek society. Even scientists assumed at that time that disabled children were abandoned somewhere outdoors.

Classical historian Debby Sneed of California State University in the USA reviewed other literary and archaeological evidence from that time to test this assumption.

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The findings, published in the academic journal Hesperia, pointed to “extraordinary measures” being taken in Ancient Greece to help and shelter babies born with various physical disorders.

“Killing or disclosing infants with disabilities was neither legally required nor typical in ancient Greece,” Sneed said.

Statements to the contrary that are not critical (and unfounded) are both dangerous and harmful.

These findings were supported by a reanalysis of a 1931 archaeological discovery in which the skeletons of more than 400 babies were found in a well in Athens.

These babies, often only a few days old, had no evidence of selective killing, and their numbers were in line with infant mortality rates around the world at the time.

Other excavations in Greece have also uncovered small, spherical ceramic bottles thought to have been used to feed disabled babies.

Also notable were figures of adults suffering from cleft palates and other disabilities, and other works of art.

“We have ample evidence that people are not actively killing babies,” Sneed said.

But there is no evidence that they killed them.

Sneed also emphasized that the idea of ​​infanticide put forward by Plutarch has been used for many bad purposes over the years.

These purposes included attempts by the Nazis to justify killing the disabled.

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