Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Abortion, animal rights and alcoholism in the Ancient World

Hippocratis, in his vow, he binds the doctors to not practice abortion (even in Ancient Greece), and on the other side the stoic philosophers believed that the unborn child was merely a plant. Abortion was a serious matter in Ancient Greece and Rome as it is today. In Ancient Athens they considered it a crime against the dead husband to abort the baby which was conceived with him. Inscriptions in temples in Greece show how a woman would be unclean for 40 days after she had an abortion. The first law against abortion was institutionalized in Rome, 211 A.D. and the punishment was a temporary exile. However the expansion of Christianity hardened the attitude against abortion, believing that it is murder.  


In Ancient Greece philosophers analysed and examined animal rights. Pythagoras criticised the maltreatment of animals by man, whilst philosopher Porfirios was a great supporter of vegetarianism by even writing an essay entitled " For the absence from meat". This was also evident in Rome; a vivid example is when Pompey (soldier and politician) was in charge of an elephant slaughter, people in Rome were outraged by this, more than when fellow humans were slaughtered in war. 
 According to the "Oxford Companion to Classical Civilization" although Ancient Greeks loved wine and drank it on a regular basis, they were aware of alcoholism and its problems. Pythagoras stated that drinking alcohol in order to get drunk is a step before madness. Ploutarchos condemned the habit of getting drunk early in the morning, in order to get over a headache due to a previous hangover. In Ancient Rome, Pliny the Elder found it ironic how people spent money, which they acquired with great effort, in order to destroy their mind and cause madness. 
These are merely three common and serious issues which are also current and have still not been dealt with. 

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