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date: 24 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter investigates how Athenian children were placed under the protection of the gods and what services they performed on the gods’ behalf. The successive rituals that adults conducted on their children’s behalf acknowledged their susceptibility to illness and injury throughout their journey to adulthood. Children’s prominence in state cults was apparently because they were highly valued for their ritual purity. Ritual activity also contributed to the socialization of the rising generation. It remains unclear, however, how many Athenian children underwent what scholars have identified as rites of passage. Nor do we know for certain what percentage of them served as officiates in a subsidiary priestly capacity, though the evidence suggests that this privilege was confined to a handful of the well-born.

Keywords: Artemis, Athena, burial rites, Ephebeia, infant mortality, initiation, Parthenos, peer group, pollution, postpartum rituals, rite of passage, ritual purity

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