"Childhood in the Roman Empire" by Ray Laurence - Article Review

Essay by BoogerkinsUniversity, Master's November 2006

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Laurence, Ray. "Childhood in the Roman Empire." History Today Oct 2005: 21-27.

The article "Childhood in the Roman Empire" explores the evidence left behind by Roman citizens in regards to the lives of children in the Roman Empire. This has been printed in a scholarly journal, History Today, with a purpose to inform and bring to light information regarding the lives and upbringing, in addition the mark these children left on society. Memorials have been found depicting the deaths of children, evidencing a connection or bond between parent and child, however, only children of a certain age appear to have been committed to stone and epitaph, as infants were frequently left to succumb to exposure. The timeline of childhood indicates certain privileges and rights, differing from male to female.

The aim of this article is to bring light to the lives of children in the Roman Empire, and establish the background for those who would later be adults in the Roman world.

Evidence of epitaphs carved in stone is presented to show that some children were in fact more precious to their parents and their world than originally thought of the Romans. Laurence presents the information at hand in a manner which parallels many of the practices seen in the Roman days to what we do in the modern Western civilization, leaving it easily understood and transferable.

Laurence presents information in regards to the treatment of children in the Roman Empire and quickly follows many of his statements with proof or information as commonly accepted by fellow historians. This style and manner of presentation is consistent throughout the article leaving it easily digestible to the common reader without background in the workings of the Roman world. Laurence presents an opinion held by many historians that "suggest[s] that Romans could only...