By Dominic Montserrat
First released in 2004. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra info for Changing Bodies, Changing Meanings: Studies on the Human Body in Antiquity
Early pre-Republican laws attributed to Romulus and echoed in the Twelve Tables14 also emphasised the needs of the state to rear children, especially males. According to Dionysus of Halicarnassus’ account of Romulus’ statute, a child born ‘a cripple or a monster’ (anaperon ê teras) could be exposed only after the child had been examined by five witnesses (Ant. Rom. 1–2). 16 In all ancient societies the need for security, provision of food and military prowess saw the perfect body idealised in the divine and its representation on earth, in the institution of kingship and hero, and associated with power and the protection of the community.
The reason for a disabled god has been variously discussed. 49 While the essay highlights the deity’s skill with metal-working and his cunning (ironically in a trade that causes disability and is stereotypically represented by lame workmen), Homer recorded a tradition in which Hera pushed her son away, rejecting him, because of his deformity;50 while the gods would laugh at the sight of the hobbling god. Did Greeks identify with Hera’s disgust and revulsion as common to their own behaviour, or did they recognise it as expressions of a past time?
Accidents in the workplace, such as a blacksmith going deaf, or a soldier being wounded, are one cause. Human ephemerality, disease and the ravages of time are more commonplace. In ancient writing, attention was drawn to the decayed and infirm body, and 23 PERFECT BODIES, IMPERFECT BODIES the effects of age and diseases were emphasised through contrasting images of the body. The Homeric heroes were well built, never suffered bad health, and lived long lives. Their antithesis was Hesiod’s Iron-Age, fifth generation who suffered disease, old age and death (Op.