A conversation with Christian Laes about one of the most joyous, dangerous, and often tragic, moments of life in antiquity and the Middle Ages: childbirth. We discuss the sad fact of infant mortality, the first days of children who survived, and the difficult choices that families had to make if the mother did not survive, but the child did. What was the emotional and demographic impact of the perils of childbirth?
Christian Laes is Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester. He studies the social and cultural history of Graeco-Roman and Late Antiquity, paying particular attention to the human life course: childhood, youth, family, sexuality, and disabilities. Click here to view Christian’s university webpage.
The conversation is based on two of Christian’s papers, ‘Infants between Biological and Social Birth in Antiquity,’ Historia 63 (2014) 364-383; and ‘Motherless Infancy in the Roman and the Late Ancient World,’ in Missing Mothers: Maternal Absence in Antiquity (Leuven 2021) 15-41.
Christian Laes was also the guest on Episode 25 of Byzantium & Friends: Disability in Byzantium
Byzantium & Friends is hosted by Anthony Kaldellis, Professor and Chair of the Department of Classics at The Ohio State University. You can follow him on his personal website.
Top Image: Marble plaque showing parturition scene, Ostia, Italy – Wellcome Images / Wikimedia Commons