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About 2,500 years ago, societies undoubtedly shared a collective concern on population. In ancient Judaism, population was spoken to be “fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” and therefore with utmost significance. Meanwhile, in ancient Greece, reproduction was sacred with goddesses’ responsibility to help mortals successfully create children into the world and raise them to adulthood.
In 500 B.C., the works of Confucius and his school discoursed the association between population and resources. Some of these writings suggested that the government should move people from overpopulated to underpopulated areas, hence, the idea of promoting population growth. In 360 B.C., Plato highlighted the significance of population stability rather than growth: “keeping the ideal community of free citizens at a constant 5,040”. This number indicated that “above all the fact that 5,040 is divisible by twelve, a number with a decisive sacred dimension.”
However, Plato recognized that a few number of people would inhibit an acceptable division of labor and would not permit a society to be defended, while too many people would lead to anonymity that would destabilize democracy. He, therefore, proposed that population size would be influenced by late marriage, infanticide, and migration. On the other hand, Aristotle was concerned on the “population of a city-state not grows beyond the means of the families to support families.” His writings explained that the law could limit the number of children, and that women who became pregnant after already having all the children, an abortion would be applicable. This shows of how widespread abortion has been in human society.
In the Roman era, Empire Julius and Augustus Caesar were proponents of pronatalist doctrine, which a must even though with very high mortality rates, for replacement of casualties and for assurance of enough people to help in the colonization. This theory, however, declined during the middle ages and was transformed from a pagan to Christian society. Christianity was characterized by a combination of both pronatalist and antinatalist doctrines that condemned polygamy, abortion, divorce, and infanticide, consequently led to lower growth rates. In 354-430 A.D., the influential Christian leader and writer, Augustine argued that “virgins were the highest form of human existence.” He believed that human sexuality was a naturally noble thing but also a main cause of sin. To deal with sexuality, abstinence was the noblest technique, but marriage existed for the purpose of procreation.
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