Thursday, July 04, 2013

An ancient letter on infanticide

Here’s another snippet from Rodney Stark’s The Rise of Christianity, which includes an oft-cited ancient letter from a husband (Hilarion) to his expecting wife (Alis):

For now, consider a letter written by one Hilarion to his pregnant wife Alis, which has been reported by many authors because of the quite extraordinary contrast between his deep concern for his wife and his hoped-for son, and his utter callousness toward a possible daughter:

Know that I am still in Alexandria.  I do not worry if they all come back and I remain in Alexandria.  I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I receive payment I shall send it up to you.  If you are delivered of a child [before I come home], if it is a boy keep it, if it is a girl discard it.  You have sent me word, “Don’t forget me.”  How can I forget you.  I beg you not to worry…. (p. 98).

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