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Growing Up Fatherless in Antiquity

As the changes in the traditional family accelerated toward the end of the twentieth century, a great deal of attention came to focus on fathers, both modern and ancient. While academics and politicians alike singled out the conspicuous and growing absence of the modern father as a crucial factor affecting contemporary family and social dynamics, ancient historians and classicists have rarely explored ancient father-absence, despite the likelihood that nearly a third of all children in the ancient Mediterranean world were fatherless before they turned fifteen. The proportion of children raised by single mothers, relatives, step-parents, or others was thus at least as high in antiquity as it is today. This book assesses the wide-ranging impact high levels of chronic father-absence had on the cultures, politics, and families of the ancient world.
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Table of Contents

List of figures; List of tables; List of contributors; Acknowledgements; Note on abbreviations; Introduction: 1. Fatherless antiquity? Perspectives on 'fatherlessness' in the ancient Mediterranean Sabine R. Hubner and David M. Ratzan; Part I. Coping with Demographic Realities: 2. The demographic background Walter Scheidel; 3. Oedipal complexities Mark Golden; 4. Callirhoe's dilemma: remarriage and stepfathers in the Graeco-Roman east Sabine R. Hubner; 5. 'Without father, without mother, without genealogy': fatherlessness in the Old and New Testaments Marcus Sigismund; Part II. Virtual Fatherlessness: 6. Bastardy and fatherlessness in ancient Greece Daniel Ogden; 7. Fatherlessness and formal identification in Roman Egypt Myrto Malouta; Part III. Roles without Models: 8. Diomedes, the fatherless hero of the Iliad Louise Pratt; 9. Sons (and daughters) without fathers: fatherlessness in the Homeric epics Georg Woehrle; 10. Absent Roman fathers in the writings of their daughters: Cornelia and Sulpicia Judith P. Hallett; Part IV. Rhetoric of Loss: 11. The disadvantages and advantages of being fatherless: the case of Sulla Sabine Muller; 12. An imperial family man: Augustus as surrogate father to Marcus Antonius' children Ann-Cathrin Harders; 13. Cui parens non erat maximus quisque et uetustissimus pro parente: parental surrogates in imperial Roman literature Neil W.Bernstein; 14. The education of orphans: a reassessment of the evidence of Libanius Raffaella Cribiore; 15. 'Woe to those making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless': Christian ideals and the obligations of stepfathers in late antiquity Geoffrey Nathan; Bibliography; Index.


'Uniformly excellent ... The chapters in this book are very effective reminders of the lasting emotional distress of growing up without a father ... this book represents a welcome attempt to supplement demographic studies of ancient families with investigations of specific situations involving historical actors and literary characters.' Raymond Van Dam, AHB Online Reviews

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