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Ancient people struggled to explain their world. Natural phenomena, such as storms or the change of seasons, were attributed to gods or some sort of intervention by higher beings. Thor controlled the sky, Neptune the sea.

People became more rational, however, when they tried to explain one another. The great philosopher Socrates (470 - 399 B.C.) was concerned primarily with ethical questions, such as what makes a good life.

The year 1552 B.C. marks the first recorded reference to mental retardation, scribed in an obscure document called the Therapeutic Papyrus of Thebes. Unlike today, the Ancient Era had no historians recording the lives of persons with disabilities.

The Greeks and Romans in particular held a very narrow sense of self-image, believing they exemplified the ideal human type. With their contributions to art, philosophy, literature, and science, they viewed themselves as superior to all other races. Physical difference, in the form of a different ethnicity or a disability, was seen as a mark of inferiority.

Ancient Rome