Besides the oversight of the slaves the Athenian matron
has naturally the care of the children. A childless home is one of the
greatest of calamities. It means a solitary old age, and still worse,
the dying out of the family and the worship of the family
gods. There is
just enough of the old superstitious "ancestor worship" left in Athens
to make one shudder at the idea of leaving the "deified ancestor"
without any descendants to keep up the simple sacrifices to their
memory. Besides, public opinion condemns the childless home as not
contributing to the perpetuation of the city. How Corinth, Thebes, or
Sparta will rejoice, if it is plain that Athens is destroying herself by
race suicide! So at least one son will be very welcome. His
advent is a day of happiness for the father, of still greater
satisfaction for the young mother.