Children and Everyday Life in the Roman and Late Antique World: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Children and Everyday Life in the Roman and Late Antique World

1st Edition

Edited by Christian Laes, Ville Vuolanto


388 pages

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pub: 2016-10-19
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Children and Everyday Life in the Roman and Late Antique World explores what it meant to be a child in the Roman world - what were children’s concerns, interests and beliefs - and whether we can find traces of children’s own cultures. By combining different theoretical approaches and source materials, the contributors explore the environments in which children lived, their experience of everyday life, and what the limits were for their agency. The volume brings together scholars of archaeology and material culture, classicists, ancient historians, theologians, and scholars of early Christianity and Judaism, all of whom have long been involved in the study of the social and cultural history of children.

The topics discussed include children's living environments; clothing; childhood care; social relations; leisure and play; health and disability; upbringing and schooling; and children's experiences of death. While the main focus of the volume is on Late Antiquity its coverage begins with the early Roman Empire, and extends to the early ninth century CE. The result is the first book-length scrutiny of the agency and experience of pre-modern children.


" … on account of its impressive thematic breadth, the high-level quality of its contributions throughout, and its deep, critical engagement with issues of method and theory, Children and Everyday Life in the Roman and Late Antique World should be required reading for anyone interested in the history of childhood. From the big questions that it raises to the experiential details that it captures, the volume richly repays its readers for their imaginative journey through these ancient children’s lives."

- Sinclair Bell, Northern Illinois University, USA, 'Childhood in the Past' journal, 2017

"The volume’s emphasis upon childhood agency and intersectionality is an innovation found throughout this edited volume, although individual contributions also experiment with other new approaches to childhood studies … Individual contributions would be appropriate for upper-level undergraduate teaching and certainly for graduate teaching and scholarship. The volume advocates forcefully for an agent-centered approach and, as such, represents a productive new direction for the study of children in antiquity."

- Anna Lucille Boozer, Baruch College, City University of New York, USA, in the Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 2017

Table of Contents

List of Figures


Notes on Contributors

1. A New Paradigm for the Social History of Childhood and Children in Antiquity

Christian Laes and Ville Vuolanto

2. Agency, Experience, and the Children in the Past. The Case of Roman Childhood

Ville Vuolanto


Setting the Scene: Experiences and Environments

3. Children and the Urban Environment: Agency in Pompeii

Ray Laurence

4. Little Tunics for Little People: the Problems of Visualising the Wardrobe of the Roman child

Mary Harlow

5. Touching Children in Roman Antiquity: the Sentimental Discourse and the Family Christian Laes

6. Being a Niece or Nephew in an Ancient City. Children’s Social Environment in Roman Oxyrhynchos

April Pudsey and Ville Vuolanto


What Did the Roman Children Actually Do?

7. Leisure as a Site of Child Socialisation. Agency and Resistance in the Roman Empire

Jerry Toner

8. Roman Girls and Boys at Play: Realities and Representations

Fanny Dolansky

9. Age, Agency, and Material Culture in the Roman World: the Graffiti Evidence from Roman Campania

Katherine Huntley

10. Why Roman Pupils Lacked a Long Vacation

Konrad Vössing

11. Becoming a Roman Student

W. Martin Bloomer


Religious Practices and Sacred Spaces

12. Roman Children as Religious Agents: The Cognitive Foundations of Cult

Jakob Mackey

13. Jewish Childhood in the Roman Galilee. Sabbath in Tiberias (c. 300 CE)

Hagith Sivan

14. Resistance and Agency in the Everyday Life of Late Antique Children (3rd-8th c CE) Béatrice Caseau

15. Children in Monastic Families in Egypt at the End of Antiquity

Maria Chiara Giorda

16. Every-Day Life of Children in Ninth-Century Byzantine Monasteries

Oana Cojocaru


A Cruel World: Accidents, Disability and Death

17. Children’s Accidents in the Roman Empire: The Medical Eye on 500 Years of Mishaps in Injured Children

Lutz Alexander Graumann

18. Listening for the Voices of Two Disabled Girls in Early Christian Literature Anna Rebecca Solevåg

19. Children and the Experience of Death in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine World

Cornelia Horn

20. How Close Can We Get to the Roman Child?Reflections on Methodological Achievements and New Advances

Reidar Aasgaard




About the Editors

Christian Laes is an associate professor of ancient history and Latin at the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and an adjunct professor in ancient history at the history department of the University of Tampere, Finland. He has studied the social and cultural history of Rome and Late Antiquity, paying particular attention to the human life course: childhood; youth; family; slavery; old age; sexuality; and disabilities. His monographs, and over 70 contributions have been published by international publishers and journals.

Ville Vuolanto is research fellow at IFIKK, University of Oslo, Norway, and adjunct professor in general history at the University of Tampere, Finland. He has published a number of articles on the history of the family and childhood in the Roman and early medieval periods, and is now writing a monograph on children in Oxyrhynchos (with April Pudsey). His latest book Children and Asceticism in Late Antiquity: Continuity, Family Dynamics and the Rise of Christianity was published in 2015.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General