A society without a capacity to explain the birth of a disabled child in medical terms is likely to regard it as an example of the power of the gods to violate the rules of nature. Such power often becomes the stuff of myth, resulting in narratives of people and not-quite-human creatures, whose appearance at birth differs significantly from the average. Greek mythology, for instance, is famous for its variety of such characters – from lame gods to terrifying monsters. Whether such monsters were truly a representation of the Greeks' belief concerning congenital disability is one of the main questions of this section, addressed particularly in the article on 'monstrous births'.
Many other cultures, too, had a great interest in unusual infants. Some regarded them as dangerous prodigies, others believed them to be the offspring of faeries, but more often then we tend to imagine today, congenitally disabled infants were not detested or exposed but simply reared among others.
This section addresses both the ancient myths concerning the births of children with physical variations, and modern misconceptions about ancient times.
The website's articles on congenital disability include:
Misshapen by Misconception: myths of 'monstrous births' and their religious agenda
Livy: An Account of Roman Prejudice: on the Romans' beliefs concerning child prodigies
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