Scenes from a classical landscape: the place, the city of Athens and its territory, the approximately 1,000-square-mile region of Attica; the time, the era of the Peloponnesian War (431-404 BC, plus a decade or two on either side).1 First, a vignette seen repeatedly in private houses all over Attica. About a week after the birth of a baby, the new father led the celebration of a ceremony called the amphidromia, literally the “walking or running around,” in which he carried (possibly at a run and possibly naked) the newborn infant around the household hearth. A sacrifice probably followed and then a party, with food and wine and gifts from friends for the baby. Besides being a time of joy, the amphidromia ceremony had the serious purpose of introducing the newborn into the family through a ritual of initiation: for the Greeks, fire was an agent of purification, which was considered necessary after the bleeding that accompanies childbirth. Adding to the seriousness of the ceremony was the knowledge of the alternative: that the father by

right could have rejected the infant as illegitimate, in which case he would have had it “exposed”; that is to say, abandoned somewhere, perhaps to die, perhaps to be adopted or enslaved. Having been accepted as legitimate, the child would be given a name, either at the amphidromia or at a second “tenth-day” dekatê celebration shortly afterward. So the first confrontation between an Athenian father and his child was one of stark inequality.2