The Origin of the Family Private Property and the State

The Origin of the Family Private Property and the State

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The Origin of the Family Private Property and the State by Frederick Engels

Published:

1902

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The Origin of the Family Private Property and the State

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Book Excerpt

relative social positions of man and wife, but the religious reflection of these conditions in the minds of men. Hence Bachofen represents the Oresteia of Aeschylos as the dramatic description of the fight between the vanishing maternal and the paternal law, rising and victorious during the time of the heroes.

Klytaemnestra has killed her husband Agamemnon on his return from the Trojan war for the sake of her lover Aegisthos; but Orestes, her son by Agamemnon, avenges the death of his father by killing his mother. Therefore he is persecuted by the Erinyes, the demonic protectors of maternal law, according to which the murder of a mother is the most horrible, inexpiable crime. But Apollo, who has instigated Orestes to this act by his oracle, and Athene, who is invoked as arbitrator--the two deities representing the new paternal order of things--protect him. Athene gives a hearing to both parties. The whole question is summarized in the ensuing debate between Orestes and the Erinyes. Orestes claims that

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