Format Type: PDF, ePub
Read Online: 907
In the eyes of the ancient Greeks and Romans, physical imperfections and infirmities were comparable to marks of the barbarian. The distinguished historian Robert Garland offers the first detailed investigation of the plight of those Greeks and Romans who, owing either to deformity or to disability, did not meet their society's exacting criteria for the ideal human form. Drawing on classical drama and poetry, historical works, medical tracts, vase painting and sculpture, mythology, and ethnography, Garland examines the high incidence of disability and deformity among the Greek and Roman population. From the deaf, the blind, and the lame to hunchbacks, dwarfs, and giants, to those even more severely disabled, he explores the lives of the handicapped and their place in ancient society. Garland discusses medical treatments, jobs available to the disabled, religious and scientific explanations for congenital deformities, and the prevalence of belief in monstrous races. And he analyzes how, through public rituals, social institutions, literature, and art, ancient society as a whole utilized deformity for its own purposes. The handicapped served as living testimony to the power of divine retribution, and were also regarded as scapegoats, portents, embodiments of evil, objects of amusement, and proof of nature's ingenuity. Referring frequently to the condition of the disabled in contemporary society, The Eye of the Beholder contributes an important chapter in the history of the treatment of the disabled and offers a revealing introduction to a relatively neglected aspect of ancient life.