chapter  12
19 Pages

Roman children as religious agents: the cognitive foundations of cult


Introduction This chapter offers an account of Roman children’s cognitive agency in their own religious learning. It serves as an alternative to accounts in which Roman children figure as passively moulded by socializing agents or forces.1 On my account, Roman children were recognized as agents, who in turn recognized others as agents from and with whom they could learn. Romans could often describe children as passively shaped by adults, but they could also note children’s active learning. Two such examples instance the chronological sweep of the evidence from the Latin west considered here: Cicero’s recognition that children learn without instruction, sine doctrina, motivated by examples of virtuous behaviour and, centuries later, Augustine’s insistence that he learned of his own accord, by paying attention, advertendo, rather than under coercion.2