1st Edition

Disability in Antiquity

Edited By Christian Laes Copyright 2017
    506 Pages
    by Routledge

    506 Pages
    by Routledge

    This volume is a major contribution to the field of disability history in the ancient world. Contributions from leading international scholars examine deformity and disability from a variety of historical, sociological and theoretical perspectives, as represented in various media. The volume is not confined to a narrow view of ‘antiquity’ but includes a large number of pieces on ancient western Asia that provide a broad and comparative view of the topic and enable scholars to see this important topic in the round.

    Disability in Antiquity is the first multidisciplinary volume to truly map out and explore the topic of disability in the ancient world and create new avenues of thought and research.

      Preface and Acknowledgements

      Note on the Bibliography

      List of Contributors


      1. Introduction: Disability History and the Ancient World. Past, Present and Future - Christian Laes
      2. Disability and Infirmitas in the Ancient World: Demographic and Biological facts in the longue durée - April Pudsey

        The Ancient (Near) East

      4. Disabilities from Head to Toe in Hittite Civilisation - Richard Beal
      5. Mesopotamia and Israel - Edgar Kellenberger
      6. Ancient Persia and Silent Disability - Omar Coloru
      7. Egyptian Medicine and Disabilities: from Pharaonic to Graeco-Roman Egypt - Rosalie David
      8. India: Demystifying Disability in Antiquity - M. Miles
      9. Disability in Ancient China - Olivia Milburn

        The Greek World

      11. The Greek vocabulary of disabilities - Evelyn Samama
      12. Ability and Disability in Classical Athenian Oratory - Martha Lynn Rose
      13. Disabilities in Comedy and Tragedy - Robert Garland
      14. Legal (and Customary?) Approaches to the Disabled in Ancient Greece - Matthew Dillon
      15. The Hellenistic Turn in Bodily Representations: Venting Anxiety in Terracotta Figurines - Alexandre Mitchell
      16. Plutarch's 'Philosophy' of Disability: Human after All - Michiel Meeusen

        The Roman World

      18. Roman Perfect bodies. The Stoic View - Bert Gevaert
      19. Foul and Fair Bodies, Minds, and Poetry in Roman Satire - Sarah Bond and T.H.M. Gellar-Goad
      20. The 'Other' Romans: Deformed Bodies in the Visual Arts of Rome - Lisa Trentin
      21. Mobility Impairment in the Sanctuaries of Early Roman Italy - Emma-Jayne Graham
      22. Mental Disability? Galen on Mental Health - Chiara Thumiger
      23. Madness and Mad Patients According to Caelius Aurelianus - Danielle Gourevitch
      24. Disability in the Roman Digest - Peter Toohey

        The Late Ancient World

      26. Hysterical Women? Gender and Disability in Early Christian Narrative – Anna Rebecca Solevåg
      27. Augustine's Sermons and Disabilities - Martin Claes and Anthony Dupont
      28. Infirmitas in Monastic Rules - Jenni Kuuliala
      29. The Coptic and Ethiopic Tradition on Disabilities - Carol Downer
      30. The Disability Within: Sexual Desire as Disability in Syriac Christianity - John Martens
      31. The Disabled in the Byzantine Empire - Stephanos Efthymiadis
      32. What Difference did Islam Make? Disease and Disability in Early Medieval North Africa - Matthew Gaumer
      33. Impotent Husbands, Eunuchs and Flawed Women in Early Islamic Law - Hocine Benkheira
      34. Disability in Rabbinic Judaism - Lennart Lehmhaus and Julia Watts Belser

        The endurance of tradition

      36. Then and now. Canonical law on disabilities - Irina Metzler
      37. The Imperfect body in Nazi Germany: Ancient Concepts, Modern Technologies - Toon Van Houdt





    Christian Laes is Associate Professor of Latin and Ancient History at the University of Antwerp (Belgium), and Adjunct Professor of Ancient History at the University of Tampere (Finland). From 2014–16, he has been a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Social Research, University of Tampere. He has published five monographs, four edited volumes and over seventy international contributions on the human life course in Roman and Late Antiquity. Childhood, youth, old age, family, marriage and sexuality as well as disabilities are the main focuses of his scholarly work.

    "After two millennia the voices of some of the most silent people of antiquity are finally being heard. This volume opens up a world previously all but unknown to us. It is an important collection of essays, in terms of both content and approach, that every ancient historian and classicist, as well as anyone interested in the history of disability, needs to read." 

    - Tim Parkin, University of Manchester, UK

    "Christian Laes and the contributors to this volume emancipate the disabled in antiquity, not only in the Greek and Roman world, but also in the Near, Middle and Far East. They show them in their social and cultural context and in comparative perspective, making visible the invisible."

    - Manfred Horstmanshoff, Leiden University, The Netherlands

    "...the volume’s strength is the breadth of material that has been selected for inclusion ... the volume serves as a fitting starting point for a new era in disability history focussing on the ancient Mediterranean."

    - Jane Draycott, University of Glasgow, UK, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2017

    "Disability in Antiquity is a valuable contribution to the recent field of historical disability studies ... The strength of this book lies in its endeavor to be comprehensive and comparative: collating a wide range of materials from different eras and cultures provides the reader with a holistic understanding of the topic at hand ... this book is an excellent addition to any scholarly library and a must-read for anyone interested in the history of disability. Readers are left not just with a thorough understanding of the topic but also an invitation for future research, as the authors put forth compelling and insightful questions to continue the conversation regarding disability in antiquity."

    - Heidi De Baerdemaeker-Poole, The Waterford School, USA, The Classical Journal 2018

    "This collection, richly diverse, holds much of use for the future work in the field. The bibliographies at the end of each chapter are extensive and current and care has been taken by the editor to locate the individual studies in the context of the history of disability studies as a whole."

    - Patricia Clark, University of Victoria, Canada, H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online