Disabilities in Roman Antiquity

Disparate Bodies A Capite ad Calcem


This is the first volume ever to systematically study the subject of disabilities in the Roman world. The contributors examine the topic a capite ad calcem, from head to toe. Chapters deal with mental and intellectual disability, alcoholism, visual impairment, speech disorders, hermaphroditism, monstrous births, mobility problems, osteology and visual representations of disparate bodies. The authors fully engage with literary, papyrological, and epigraphical sources, while iconography and osteo-archaeology are taken into account. Also the late ancient evidence is taken into account. Refraining from a radical constructionist standpoint, the contributors acknowledge the possibility of discovering significant differences in the way impairment was culturally viewed or assessed.

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Christian Laes, Ph.D. (2004), Catholic University of Leuven, is Associate Professor of Latin and ancient history at the Free University of Brussels and the University of Antwerp. He has published five monographs and over fifty international contributions on the human life course in Roman antiquity. Childhood, youth, old age, marriage and sexuality as well as disabilities are the main focuses of his scholarly work.

C.F. Goodey, Ph.D., has researched and published on the history of ‘intellectual disability’, including the ethical and social implications of the concept, for more than 20 years. His articles have appeared in a number of scholarly journals. He formerly held teaching and research posts at Ruskin College, Oxford, the Open University and the University of London Institute of Education. He is currently an independent consultant on learning disability in the UK.

M. Lynn Rose, Ph.D, is Professor of History at Truman State University. She teaches ancient history and history of disabilities. Her monograph The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece was the first to systematically study the topic for the Greek world.

Contributors: Patricia Clark, Bert Gevaert, Chris F. Goodey, Danielle Gourevitch, Emma-Jayne Graham, Lutz Graumann, Cornelia B. Horn, Christian Laes, Alex Mitchel, Martha L. Rose, Evelyn Samama, Lisa Trentin.
"Disabilities in the Roman World is an intellectually and morally challenging investigation of what constituted physical and mental disparity in Roman antiquity. (...) [E]ach essay in its distinctive way requires the reader to re-evaluate her definition of disability within not only the context of ancient Rome but also that of contemporary society (...) The editors deserve our warm gratitude for producing a book that is both scholarly and provocative, opinionated and incisive." Robert Garland, AHB Online Reviews 4 (2014), 25–27.

"This collection will undoubtedly prove invaluable for future studies of the subject, and each separate contribution will achieve the goal of stimulating further thought and discussion. (...) The carefully considered introductory chapters provide a methodological framework that will help to bring the study of historical disability into the twenty-first century." Jack Lennon, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2014.04.20.

"[T]he discussions are really at the forefront for the methodological fundamentals they debate and, more often than not, look at Graeco-Roman antiquity as a whole, and at the status quaestionis of ancient disability studies broadly conceived." Chiara Thumiger, Classical Review 64.2 (2014).

"[T]this is an excellent set of essays that will provoke historians of medicine and disability to be more attentive to their approach and to Roman sources. In addition, it will productively widen the gaze of Roman historians to see the broader fields of society that must be studied alongside medicine in order to more fully understand “disability” in the ancient world." Kristi Upson-Saia, Bulletin of the History of Medicine 88.3 (2014).
1. Approaching Disabilities a Capite ad Calcem. Hidden Themes in Roman Antiquity
Christian Laes, C.F. Goodey, M. Lynn Rose

2. Mental States, Bodily Dispositions and Table Manners: a Guide to Reading 'Intellectual' Disability from Homer to late Antiquity
C.F. Goodey, M. Lynn Rose

3. Psychiatric Disability in the Galenic Medical Matrix
Patricia A. Clark, M. Lynn Rose

4. Two Historical Case Histories of Acute Alcoholism in the Roman Empire
Danielle Gourevitch, with the collaboration of Dr. Gilles Demigneux
4.1. Drunkenness, Alcoholism and Ancient History
Christian Laes

5. Exploring Visual Impairment in Ancient Rome
Lisa Trentin

6. A Nexus of Disability in Ancient Greek Miracle Stories: a Comparison of Accounts of Blindness from the Asklepieion in Epidauros and the Shrine of Thecla in Seleucia
Cornelia B. Horn

7. Silent History? Speech Impairment in Roman Antiquity
Christian Laes

8. Monstrous Births and Retrospective Diagnosis: The Case of Hermaphrodites in Antiquity
Lutz Graumann

9. What's in a Monster? Pliny the Elder, Teratology and Bodily Disability
Bert Gevaert, Christian Laes

10. A King Walking with Pain? On the Textual and Iconographical Images of Philip II and Other Wounded Kings
Evelyn Samama

11. Disparate Lives or Disparate Deaths? Post-Mortem Treatment of the Body and the Articulation of Difference
Emma-Jayne Graham

12. Disparate Bodies in Ancient Artefacts: the Function of Caricature and Pathological Grotesques among Roman Terracotta Figurines
Alex Mitchell

All interested in the socio-cultural history of the Roman world, and anyone concerned with disability history in general.
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