Birth and Infancy Romulus and Remus

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Social Studies
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Birth and Infancy Romulus and Remus

The birth of a child although very important today, was crucial in ancient Rome. Especially for people of high status. A child was needed as an heir for the family. Childbirth was a difficult task at the time. During the time, ancient Rome had advanced medical knowledge, but not as advanced as people today. Undergoing childbirth, was done at home since there were no hospitals at the time. Those who could afford it, had a midwife to care for them during birth. Others were cared for by a family member. Midwives were known to help the process of the birth become easier. They were trained to make childbirth easier, and for emotional support. Without the help of modern medicine, it was a painful and long experience to go through. The mother often died or became sick from illness. Diseases such as diarrhea and issues such as malnutrition were the main contributors to their deaths. The child almost always was born ill as well. Most likely if you did not die during childbirth and became ill, you would die shortly after. Very few were able to survive because of their limited medical technology. The child had a high risk of death as well. If the child survived through the birth and illness, there was still a thirty percent chance that the child would die in the first year of it's life. The birth of children at the time was a necessity because the government needed men, but because of the amount of deaths it was almost impossible to keep a growing population going.


One of the most popular stories of exposure of infants is the story of Romulus and Remus. They were abandoned by Rhea (vestal virgin). They survived unlike many. They were raised by a she wolf and later by a poor family, but they grew to become the founders of Rome.

Infancy was a dangerous and fatal time in ancient Rome. About fifty percent of children did not live past the age of ten, but there was also a practice of exposing your infants. The father of a family was the person who decided whether to keep a child or not. After birth the midwife or relative who helped during birth, placed the newborn down on the floor. If the father picked up the child, it would be accepted into the family, with or without the mother's consent. If the child was not accepted he would be exposed. Exposure is when a family abandoned their child (to nature outside). There were many reasons for a family not to keep the child including an inability to feed the child, if they were deformed, if they were a female, or if the child was born out of wedlock. The infants left to exposure were of no use to the family and were left to die. Some of the abandoned infants were taken to become slaves for other families. Whether there was legitimate reason for exposure, or keeping an infant, the life of the child was a difficult and dangerous one at the time.

An End to Exposure?

The rule of Constantine and Christianity helped to end exposure of infants. Instead of leaving them to die, children were allowed to be sold to help poor families. It was a better alternative, although it was still not completely accepted. Later, exposure was officially forbidden by society.


"Family Life." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. . "Fertility, Pregnancy and Childbirth on the Coinage of Ancient Rome." Fertility, Pregnancy and Childbirth on the Coinage of Ancient Rome. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. "Infanticide Common in Roman Empire." DNews. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. . "Old Age in Ancient Rome." History Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2014. . "Roman Exposure of Infants." Ancient / Classical History. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Feb. 2014.

Birth and Infancy

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