Thursday, July 12, 2007


Putting Away Childish Things

St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 13.11:
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
Childish things here are obviously childish speech, understanding, and thinking.

But might some ancient readers have thought also of those ceremonies in which boys, becoming men, put away the physical objects of childhood, the insignia pueritiae? I'm thinking mainly of the Liberalia (March 17), when boys coming of age put away the bordered toga (praetexta) and the amulet (bulla) and put on the toga virilis. See Marquardt and Mommsen, Handbuch der römischen Alterthümer 7.1 (Leipzig, S. Hirzel, 1879), pp. 122-124 for a collection of ancient references.

On the Greek side, some dedicatory epigrams from the Greek Anthology are relevant. One is 6.309 (Leonidas, tr. W.R. Paton):
To Hermes Philocles here hangs up these toys of his boyhood: his noiseless ball, this lively boxwood rattle, his knuckle-bones he had such a mania for, and his spinning top.
For a girl see e.g. Greek Anthology 6.280 (anonymous, tr. W.R. Paton):
Timareta, the daughter of Timaretus, before her wedding, hath dedicated to thee, Artemis of the lake, her tambourine and her pretty ball, and the caul that kept up her hair, and her dolls, too, and their dresses; a virgin gift, as is fit, to virgin Dian. But, daughter of Leto, hold thy hand over the girl, and purely keep her in her purity.
W.H.D. Rouse, Greek Votive Offerings: An Essay in the History of Greek Religion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1902), pp. 249-250, gives more examples and discusses some archaeological finds.

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