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Tue, Dec 11th - 3:32PM

LOVE AND MARRIAGE AMONG THE PRIMITIVES

Although we can’t prove it, we believe that with prehistoric man promiscuity predated monogamy by millions of years. We have a close image of the ages before recorded history in the still surviving tribes of Asia, Africa, Australia and Polynesia. The effect of the white man’s exploration has caused a shrinking population among primitives and the loss of ancient customs and traditions. Still an amazing amount survives. While sexual relations in prehistoric man varied in duration, intensity and regularity (Sir John Lubbock -1834-1913) there was a basic element that transcended purely physical love. For example the Veddas, a savage tribe in the interior of Ceylon, were kind-hearted, affectionate and faithful to their wives. On the other hand, the chief from Candy, was outraged by the backwardness of the Veddas at their being content with a single woman, living with her for the rest of their lives.

Australian primitives were polygamous. They considered a man who took more than two wives to be selfish. When a married man died, his brother inherited his wife. This custom showed a highly developed sense of family loyalty.

Though there were long and involved courtship ceremonies, there was no marriage ceremony. Primitives cared little for chastity before marriage. A woman was more highly valued for her work potential than for her beauty. There were a number of complex rules about mating.

1) Tribes were divided into several sub-groups or clans.
2) Members of these clans could not inter-marry.
3) A man could acquire extra wives as he grew older.
4) This would give him a younger wife when the first wife was too old to work or carry.

Fijians kept their women in a subordinate condition. They were often whipped and kept tied up. They could be bought and sold. In some things their morality was often elastic and in others they went to the opposite extremes. On some islands it was considered improper for a husband to spend a single night with his wife under the same roof. When a chief died, some servants and several of his wives would be killed to keep him company.

Tahitian girls had a reputation for being generous lovers. The aristocracy of the islands formed a society called arioi; all men and women belonging to it considered themselves married to each other. If any of the female members bore a child, it was usually killed. If the baby was allowed to live, its parents were considered to be seeking a permanent relationship. They were then excluded from the society. Married women were faithful to their husbands and extremely modest. They followed the same principle as the Maoris, among whom the girls had considerable sexual licence before marriage, but once they chose a partner, they clung to him with loyal affection.

Polygamy and polyandry also have their partisans. The family is the oldest human unit. Nothing better has been invented though there have been some remarkable attempts to replace it with something more flexible. Women have resisted it. Though man might wander, he is pulled back to this ancient institution. As prehistoric man turned from nomadic hunting existence to a more settled one, women became more valuable. They were better at home making than hunting. Every tribe tried to increase its stock of women. Eugenics was an early practical discovery. Incest carried no stigma. Marriage outside of the family was advisable. This is why during mating season young men carried young girls from adjacent tribes. Acquiring a bride by force survives in colorful ceremonies to this day.

Eskimos believed that to stay unmarried after puberty was immoral. The male was the master of the igloo. If he wanted a second or third wife, he had to ask permission. She usually agreed without hesitation. A barren woman would usually ask her husband to bring another woman into the igloo. If the wives were treated equally, there usually was no jealousy. Eskimos were polygamous and polyandrous. If a tribe had more men than women, the women had the right to keep a second husband, provided the first agreed. If she fell in love with a bachelor, she did not have to leave her husband. Very rarely would the husband would deny his wife the right to live with the other man for a while. If the other man was married, the two would simply exchange wives for a while. It was also usual for a husband to take an unmarried relative into his igloo as his wife’s second husband.


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Tue, Dec 11th - 3:29PM

THE GODS OF THE GREEKS

The Greek approach to love was much influenced by the fact that they considered beauty - the beauty of the male and female body alike - the equal of virtue. According to them the beauty of the exterior was the invariable indication of inner perfection. That is why the preservation and development of beauty was so important to them.

The gods of the Greeks were projections of their own very real selves. They were in the image of men and women, only more beautiful and powerful than any mortal could hope to be. They could be petulant, treacherous, almost childish. There was very little mystery or abstraction about them. Their motives were human motives. Their appetites were human appetites. We can learn more from mythology about Greek life and thought than from the philosophers, the poets and the artists. The myths were created by the people and not the elite. So we learn about love in ancient Greece by the exploits of their gods.

Immediately we learn that little respect is accorded to chastity. There was no more wanton god in any pantheon than the father of the gods, Zeus.

He assumed the guise of a snow-white bull to carry Europa across the seas and beget Minos, Rhadamanthus and Sarpedon. He visited Danae in a shower of gold and Perseus was born. He seduced Leda in the form of a swan. He had already fathered Apollo and Artemis with Hera. He was a very active god indeed.

Aphrodite was married to Hephaestus whom she deceived with handsome Ares. The goddess of love was certainly not the goddess of constancy or purity. Eros was her son, though whether his father was Hermes, Ares or Zeus has been left delightfully vague.

Not as mighty as Eros but more demanding of his worshippers was the son of Aphrodite and Dionysus, and powerful embodiment of purely physical love, Priapus. He was the god of fruitfulness and of potency, overwhelmingly male and shamelessly sexual.


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Tue, Dec 11th - 3:19PM

THE CREATION OF WOMAN
After the Creator had completed the creation of the sun, the moon, the sky and the earth, he decided to populate the earth.

He made a clay figure that possessed the divine strenght of the triple unity: life and temperament, will and character, mind and spirit. When the Creator had implanted all of these qualities in the clay shape, it came to life and the first man was born.

" I have created man, but he alone can't populate the earth" said the Creator. " I'll give him a wife."

Wanting to shape the woman's body, the Creator took the roundness of the moon, the pliancy of the snake, the twining embrace of the lianas, the trembling of the grass, the quivering of the cane, the perfume of the flowers, the lightness and agility of leaves, the glance of the doe, the gaiety and charm of the sunlight, the swiftness of the wind,the tears of the clouds, the delicacy of the feather, the shyness of the small bird, the sweetness of honey, the vanity of the peacock, the slimness of the swallow, the beauty of the diamond, and the cooing of the turtle-dove. He mixed all of these qualities and shaped them into a female being. He then gave her the holy power of the triple unity. When she came to life, she was more enchanting and lovely than any other creature in the world. The creator then gave her to man.

A few days later, man went to the Creator and said " Lord, the woman you gave me poisons my life. She chatters without pause, she wastes all of my time, she wails because of every little thing, and she is constantly ailing."

The Creator then took back his gift in order to punish the man.

Within the week, the man appeared again saying: " Lord, I am more desolate since you took back the woman. She was always singing and dancing. I can't help remembering all the time how sweetly she looked upon me, how skilled she was in kissing me, how delightfully we played together and how she sought my protection."

The Creator gave him back the woman.

Within three days the man was once again standing in front of the Creator to complain.

"Lord" he said, " I can't understand this -but if I strike a careful balance, woman causes me more annoyance than pleasure. Please rid me of her."

The Creator said:" Do what you consider best. In order to live in peace with your wife and be able to bear her presence, she shall owe you obedience from now on."

The man replied hopelessly:" I can't live with her."

" Can you live without her?" asked the Creator.

The man hung his head and said sadly: " Alas! I can live neither with or without her."

So it has been throughout the ages.

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