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By Elizabeth Archibald

Incest was once a social challenge within the heart a long time, and in addition a well-liked literary subject matter. This wide-ranging examine is the 1st survey of medieval incest tales of their cultural context. Did they mirror actual lifestyles events? How used to be incest outlined within the center a long time? How have been classical incest tales handled by means of medieval writers? Why used to be incest any such well known motif within the mythical lives of popes and saints, and why was once it inserted into the tales of significant heroes reminiscent of Charlemagne and Arthur?

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2–4. See Rousselle, Porneia, 107–13. M E D I E VA L I N C E ST L AW 21 targets include the Albigensians, the Quakers, and recently the Branch Davidians of Waco. It may be that one reason why medieval Christian writers did not use incest as a major theme in exemplary and hagiographical tales until the eleventh or twelfth centuries was that it had taken them so long to dismiss these pagan accusations. Early Christians felt no compunction, however, about replying in kind rather than turning the other cheek.

30 q. 1 c. 4. Some manuscripts of the Decretum include illustrations of crowds around the font at mass baptisms when parents sometimes sponsored their own children, either by mistake or by design: see Melnikas, Corpus, iii. 943 ff. 84 There was considerable criticism when the Byzantine emperor Heraclius (d. v. Heraclius and Bardas). 32 M E D I E VA L I N C E ST L AW of Christian values, and the penalties were entirely secular (for instance, disinheritance or the payment of wergeld). 85 This comment implies that no natural instinct or shame would have suggested the prohibition to the Lombards without papal intervention—and indeed early Christian missionaries in Europe spent much of their time dealing with local marriage customs which were unacceptable to the Church.

On Cicero see Richlin, Garden, 96–7. 47 See Richlin, Garden, 15; incest does not appear in her index. 48 49 Suetonius, Caligula, 23. Suetonius, Caligula, 24 and 36; N ero, 28. 50 Suetonius, T itus, 10, and Domitian, 22. 51 Given that incest charges were so popular as polemical instruments, it is hardly surprising that accusations of incest were made against the early Christians. Pagan writers pounced on the novel Christian emphasis on the importance of love, the use of ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ as a standard form of address between Christians, and their communal meals or ‘love-feasts’; these practices were interpreted as conclusive evidence of cannibalism and incest.

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