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The ancient Greeks and incest

Freud’s misunderstanding of classical Greek literature strikes again: “What incest was for Oedipus and his Greek audience, torture is for us: the polluting stink that incites outrage and demands expiation.” The Greeks had no “incest taboo.” They had a whole pantheon of incestuous gods. Only cultures that keep large herds of animals seem to have incest taboos. Killing his (unknown to him) parent is the taboo Oedipus violated. The nature of his self-mutilation should have made it clear, even to Freud, what Oedipus regretted: he blinds himself (does not want to “see” what he’s done), rather than castrating himself.

M. Hutton

Seattle

Feb 23 2013 - 12:03pm

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