Children in Athens

Many babies in Athens did not survive the first couple of days of life and giving birth could be dangerous for the woman.

Because of the death rate, babies were not normally named until about 7 – 10 days after birth.

It was important to give birth to sons, as in later life they would be responsible for looking after parents in their old age.

Daughters were less important and many were abandoned at birth. It could be expensive to raise girls, for when they reached marriageable age the father would have to supply a dowry for them. The woman had very little say regarding the baby and ultimately it was the father’s decision If the baby was to be kept or not.

Many girls and some boys if classed as weak or disabled babies were therefore abandoned by the father and left outside to die. If found by others, they would often by taken home and raised by them to be used as slaves.

In some city-states including Athens babies were wrapped in cloths until approximately 2 years old. It was believed that this would produce strong straight limbs.

Girls would remain with their mother as they grew. Their entire education would come from the mother. Boys would remain with their mother until aged 7, then move onto education.

 

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