Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter looks at the themes and motifs typically associated with children throughout Greek literature, arguing that they give us an indication of the way children and childhood are conceived of in Greek culture rather than a picture of social reality. The chapter uses three examples as paradigmatic (Apollo compared to a child knocking down a sandcastle in Iliad 15; Astyanax in the Iliad; and Pindar’s treatment of Achilles’ childhood in Nemean 3). Three motifs commonly associated with children and childhood in Greek literature—play, pathos, and precocity—are examined, and their connections to other important motifs, such as choral dancing, laughter, parental care and indulgence, the natural world, exposure, and survival are discussed. These create a general conception of childhood as, ideally, a carefree time of life characterized by laughter, play, and whimsicality, in which children are expected to be carefully tended and protected.

Keywords: Artemis, Dionysus, Hephaestus, Hermes, Zeus, dance, laughter, music, pais, parthenos, play, precocity, toys, tragedy

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.