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AIA-LA Lecture by Debby Sneed - Hybrid In-Person and Virtual
"Ten Fingers And Ten Toes: Disability And Infanticide In Ancient Greece"

Dr. Debby Sneed
Dept. of Classics, CSU Long Beach

One of the most shocking “facts” about ancient Greece that people tend to remember is that the ancient Spartans killed infants who were born with any kind of physical impairment or deformity. This story is repeated in textbooks, in newspapers and magazines, online, and in classrooms; it even shows up in popular contexts like memes. What, though, is the evidence for the practice? In this talk, I confront the widespread assumption that disability, in any broad sense, constituted valid grounds for infanticide in ancient Greece. By looking at the literary, archaeological, and bioarchaeological evidence we have of people responding to or interacting with infants who were born with congenital impairments like cleft palate, clubfoot, and underdeveloped limbs, we can see that infanticide was not the typical or expected response to infants born with congenital impairments in ancient Greece–not even in Sparta. With this, we can begin to think about why such stories have been so persistent in the modern imagination.

This talk will be given in person at 1201 9th St., Manhattan Beach but will be broadcast simultaneously via Zoom.

Jan 15, 2023 02:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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