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Hidden in Plain Sight: Expositi in the Community

17 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2007  

Judith Evans Grubbs

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Classics

Date Written: June 15, 2007

Abstract

Using legal, papyrological, and literary sources of the Roman imperial period, this paper looks at the fate of abandoned newborns (expositi) who were picked up and reared by someone other than a parent, usually for future use as slaves. Particular attention is given to the legal conflicts that ensued when, as sometimes happened, parents attempted to recover a child they had abandoned years before. The possibility of conflict was augmented by the peculiar characteristics of the Roman paternal power (patria potestas), which held that a paterfamilias (whether a birth father or a slavemaster) maintained legal power over children and slaves even after abandoning them.

Keywords: infant abandonment, Roman law, children in antiquity

Suggested Citation

Grubbs, Judith Evans, Hidden in Plain Sight: Expositi in the Community (June 15, 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1027290 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1027290

Judith Evans Grubbs (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Classics ( email )

Box 1050
St. Louis, MO 63130
United States
314-935-4018 (Phone)

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