Ann Parker Humanities and Social Science
The Animal Companions of Classical Attic Gravestones
In Classical Athens, many children died before adulthood. For a culture that practiced the exposure, or infanticide, of unwanted newborns, the value of the sub-adult life has been difficult to define. What did a child mean to the Athenian family and state? Once a child had been chosen to rear, its life must have been quite valuable, since the family spent lavish sums on the erection of grave markers for deceased children. These gravestones, carved in relief with images of children, provide iconographic information that may help to fill in the gaps in the understanding of death and childhood in ancient Greece. My research investigates the relief images of children and animals that mark these graves, in combination with ancient literary sources concerning animals and childhood, in order to understand what these monuments communicated about the children who lay beneath them.