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The Myth of Spartan Infanticide

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okamido View Drop Down
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    Posted: 28 May 2012 at 18:15
As reported by Plutarch, the first century Greek historian, Spartans were supposed to have submitted their newborn infants to members of the Gerousia for physical inspection. If found to be too small, too sickly, or even malformed, the Spartan elders would then throw the infant into the apothetae (pit), which was located at the base of Mt Taygetos.

Unfortunately, there is no record of this in anything but the works of Plutarch, who only had the anectodal works of Sparta's enemies to work with. Recent research however has seemingly debunked this long-standing myth. Studies conducted by the Athen's Faculty of Medicine, in conjuction with Cambridge Universities, Center for Sparta, have located skeletal remains of 46 individuals. None of which however, are those of an infant. In fact, all of the remains that have been found are those of men in their lates teens to mid-thirties. Anthropologists and historians believe that the apothetae was a place of execution for traitors, criminals, and 'tremblers', but not infants.


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beorna View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote beorna Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Jan 2014 at 00:46
infanticide is nothing uncommon. It is reported for several cultures and as well for greece. The difference in sparta was, that infanticide was regulated by the state authorities, while it was elsewhere the right of the family chief (pater familias). The question is, why was the spartan state interested to kill babies? The answer is, sparta was not. The state wanted to avoid infanticide, cos not only ill and disabled children were killed by their parents. often children were killed to reduce the number of heirs. To kill healthy children was a danger for Sparta's millitary.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Montrose Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Apr 2017 at 15:15
According to Will Durant in Caesar and Christ (vol. III of The Story of Civilization), Romans sometimes "exposed" mentally- and/or physically-handicapped infants in a like manner; though these unfortunates were oftentimes rescued and adopted by people of a kinder, gentler nature. And seeing as how Sparta was a much harsher, virile society, more militaristic than even Rome at its peak, it seems likely that ridding itself of those deemed unfit for lifelong military service would be a viable option. 
By doubt we come to inquiry; by inquiry we come to truth.
- Peter Abelard
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