In ancient Greek and Roman times, the belief regarding disabled children was vastly different from our modern-day understanding. Disabilities were often viewed as a punishment from the gods for past sins committed by either the child or their family.
Disabled Children in Ancient Greece
In ancient Greece, disabled children were often abandoned by their families on hillsides or near temples. These children were known as “exposed” and left to die of exposure or be picked up by strangers. The reasoning behind this cruel practice was that disabled children were seen as a burden on society and a disgrace to their family’s reputation.
However, there were instances where disabled children were not abandoned and instead raised within the family. These children would often be kept hidden away from society and not allowed to participate in public life. It was believed that allowing them to be seen in public would bring shame upon the family.
Disabled Children in Ancient Rome
The treatment of disabled children in ancient Rome was slightly different from that of ancient Greece. While some Roman families also practiced abandonment, others chose to raise their disabled children at home with the help of hired nurses or slaves.
The Roman philosopher, Seneca, believed that disabled individuals should be treated with respect and compassion. He wrote about how society should view those with disabilities as equals rather than outcasts.
The Role of Religion
Religion played a significant role in shaping beliefs about disability in both ancient Greek and Roman cultures. In Greek mythology, it was believed that disabilities could be caused by the wrath of the gods or through acts of divine intervention.
In Roman religion, there was no clear-cut explanation for why disabilities occurred. However, it was still widely believed that disabilities were punishments from the gods for past transgressions.
Changing Attitudes Towards Disability
It wasn’t until much later in history that attitudes towards disability began to shift towards a more compassionate and inclusive approach. In the 19th century, organizations were formed to advocate for the rights of people with disabilities and to provide them with better care.
Today, we have a much more comprehensive understanding of disabilities and how they can be accommodated in society. We have laws in place to protect the rights of those with disabilities, and many organizations work to promote inclusivity and accessibility.
In conclusion, disabled children in ancient Greek and Roman times were often viewed as outcasts and subjected to cruel treatment. Disabilities were seen as a punishment from the gods for past sins committed by either the child or their family.
However, as time passed, attitudes towards disability began to shift towards a more compassionate and inclusive approach. Today we have a much better understanding of disabilities and how they can be accommodated in society.