I. The Ancient Era 1500 B.C. - 475 A.D.
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ARISTOTLE

One of the greatest philosophers, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) wrote over 400 books on every branch of learning, including logic, ethics, politics, metaphysics, biology, physics, psychology, poetry, and rhetoric. Aristotle also studied movement, analyzing the degeneration of muscles and defective development in human beings.

Aristotle believed, as did most others in Ancient Greece, that man was the most highly evolved being, and that woman was one giant evolutionary step below, representing "the first step along the road to deformity." Aristotle also recommended that there should be a law "to prevent the rearing of deformed children." In his Politics, Aristotle wrote "As to the exposure and rearing of children, let there be a law that no deformed child shall live."

CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES

While our Ancient Era is well-known for its contributions to philosophy, literature, and medicine, these were not the best of times for individuals with disabilities.

In Rome, children with disabilities were treated as objects of scorn. Children who were blind, deaf, or mentally retarded were publicly persecuted and reported to have been thrown in the Tiber river by their parents. Some children born with disabilities were mutilated to increase their value as beggars. Other children born with disabilities were left in the woods to die, their feet bound together to discourage anyone passing by from adopting them. In the military city of Sparta, the abandonment of "deformed and sickly" infants was a legal requirement.