Archives for posts with tag: greece

william hamilton wondered if renaissances/enlightenments happened in places roughly 800 years after some hardy altruism genes were introduced by barbarians into panmictic (really outbred) populations. i wonder instead if what happens is that renaissances/enlightenments occur after ca. 500 years or so of outbreeding which results in nepotistic altruism (or clannishness) being reduced or even mostly eliminated which, in turn, leads to greater cooperation and reciprocal altruism within the populations — conditions i think you might need to have a renaissance at all (see also here).

where intensive outbreeding (and manorialism) happened in medieval europe — and there is a lot of good, strong evidence for it — certainly seems to match well with where the european renaissance occurred. after some fits and starts in the 500s to 700s, the practice of avoiding close cousin marriages really took hold in exactly the areas where the renaissance/reformation/scientific revolution/enlightenment later happened — i.e. core europe — in short: england, france, the netherlands, germany, and northern italy. scandinavia a bit, too. oh…and the lowlands of scotland.

the evidence for outbreeding in ancient greece is much more tenuous. it appears fairly certain that the upper classes outbred during the archaic period in greece (800-480 b.c.). whether they outbred during the entire time period or began the practice sometime before or after 800 b.c., i don’t know. it may also be, judging by something hesiod said, that the lower classes followed suit, but it’s impossible to know for certain going by just one comment from one ancient writer.

some circumstantial evidence that might offer further support to the outbreeding-in-archaic-greece theory is that, in the 400s to 200s b.c., there was a shift in kinship terminology in ancient greece. the distinctions in the greek language between the paternal and maternal sides of the family began to disappear — for example, uncles on both sides came to be called just “uncle,” rather than there being specific words for paternal vs. maternal uncle, and so on and so forth. the same sort of linguistic shift happened in medieval europe. in germany, for instance, that shift happened between the 1100s and 1400s. at the end of the day, all cousins came to be called simply “cousin” rather than “father’s brother’s cousin” or “mother’s brother’s cousin.” the lesson seems to be: change the kinship structures and the long-term mating patterns in a society, and it shouldn’t be surprising that the kinship terminology will also change. no need to specify different sorts of cousins if all of them are off-limits as marriage partners.

michael mitterauer points out that there was a time lag in the linguistic shifts in medieval europe — the terminology changed ca. 300 to 600 years after the mating patterns began to change. perhaps something similar happened in archaic greece — the linguistic shift happened in ca. the 400s to 200s b.c. so perhaps we can infer that the mating patterns had changed to a more outbred form a few hundred years earlier. maybe right around the end of the greek dark ages and the beginning of the archaic period. dunno. complete speculation.

now i’ve come across another piece of circumstantial evidence that outbreeding may have been happening in archaic greece and that is that there was a(n incomplete) shift in the society during the time period from being a shame culture to being a guilt culture. i’m getting this from The Greeks and the Irrational, a book originally published in 1951 and written by classical scholar e.r. dodds (who was kicked out of oxford for supporting the easter rising — troublemaker! (~_^) ). presumably there have been works criticizing dodd’s thesis written since the 1950s, but i’m afraid i haven’t read any of them yet. i’m just going to run with dodd’s idea for now, but, please, consider this a sort-of thought experiment. more speculation.

first of all, in shame cultures, bad behavior is checked by the fear of being caught — of being shamed and embarassed. in guilt cultures, bad behavior is checked by one’s inner voice — feelings of guilt occurring before any action is taken. these are behavioral traits that must have been variously selected for in different human populations. secondly, shame cultures are all tied up with honor — especially family honor. japan — with its meiwaku and seppuku — is the classic example of a shame culture, but china with its confucian filial piety is not far behind. the arabized populations are definitely shame cultures with their honor killings and all their talk of respect. even european mediterranean societies are arguably more honor-shame cultures than guilt cultures [pdf].

if you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll recognize all of those shame cultures as having had long histories of inbreeding: maternal cousin marriage was traditionally very common in east asia (here’re japan and china); paternal cousin marriage is still going strong in the arabized world; and cousin marriage was prevelant in the mediterranean up until very recently (here’s italy, for example). it’s really, once again, the outbred northwest “core” europeans who are unique here with their guilt culture (although perhaps there are other guilt cultures out there as well). my guess is that long-term inbreeding tends to result in shame-honor cultures, while long-term outbreeding leads to guilt cultures. i’ve said so before.

back to dodd, his thesis is that ancient greece went through something of a transition from a shame to a guilt culture, but that shift was incomplete. the trend may even have reversed in classical athens. dodd points to several thematic shifts in greek literature from the iliad to the writings of plato including: a move away from blaming human failings on atē or the direct, external influences of the gods to more personal “demons,” often seen only by the individual person; the gradual adoption of the idea that individual humans have “souls” or independent “personalities”; a move away from the idea that people’s failings are due to a lack of knowledge (again coming from outside the person) as opposed to, perhaps, their own culpability; that zeus over time becomes more and more a dispenser of justice rather than just a being who capriciously interferes in human affairs (justice being important in guilt cultures as opposed to revenge in shame-honor cultures); and that philosophers and thinkers increasingly complained that the inheritance of guilt down through a family line was unjust. here from dodd on that last point [kindle locations 669-671]:

“Solon speaks of the hereditary victims of nemesis as άυαίτιοι, ‘not responsible’; Theognis complains of the unfairness of a system by which ‘the criminal gets away with it, while someone else takes the punishment later’; Aeschylus, if I understand him rightly, would mitigate the unfairness by recognising that an inherited curse may be broken.”

the idea that only the transgressor should be punished (as in guilt cultures) as opposed to additional or all of his family members (as in shame-honor cultures) doesn’t actually occur to these writers, so they haven’t quite arrived fully into a guilt culture, but they do seem to have been on the way there. much more so than earlier writers anyway. again, dodd emphasizes that [kindle locations 587-588]:

“[M]any modes of behaviour characteristic of shame-cultures persisted throughout the archaic and classical periods. There is a transition, but it is gradual and incomplete.”

the transition may have been incomplete — in fact, may have even gone into reverse — because inbreeding (cousin marriage) became increasingly common in classical athens (see here). from “Agnatio, Cognation, Consanguinitas: Kinship and Blood in Ancient Rome” in Blood and Kinship: Matter for Metaphor from Ancient Rome to the Present [pgs. 24-26], we saw in a previous post that while “aristocrats in early [archaic] Greece…married beyond the limits of their *patris*”, in classical athens “members of the *anchisteia*, the legally defined kinship group including first cousins once removed, were the preferred marriage partners.” the ancient greeks might’ve gone from being a (presumably) inbred/shame culture in the dark ages, to an outbred/quasi-guilt culture in the archaic period, and back to an inbred/shame culture over the course of the classical period. maybe. Further Research is RequiredTM.

(yes, i know. it’s all very tenuous. i told you it was speculative!)

in any case, evolution is not progressive. (heh! i’ve just been dying to say that. (~_^) ) there’s nothing to say that evolution cannot go in reverse, although perhaps it wouldn’t go back down the exact same pathway it came up. there’s no reason why we — or, rather, our descendants — couldn’t wind up, as greg cochran says, back in the trees*.

i think the way to think of the evolution of behavioral traits like nepotistic and reciprocal altruism in humans — especially perhaps in recent human evolution — is like a big simmering cauldron of stew where bubbles of certain behaviors rise up in some places only to sometimes pop and deflate and almost disppear again. outbreeding appears to have occurred many places, although whether or not over the long-term is not always clear: archaic greece (maybe), ancient rome, the bamileke of cameroon, the igbo of west africa, the turkana of east africa, the semai of malaysia, the bushmen of southern africa (aka The Harmless People), and europeans since the early medieval period — especially northwest europeans. the ancient greek experiment seems to have run out of momentum and collapsed on its own; the roman example probably popped thanks to the barbarian invasions; and the northwest european one is…currently ongoing. for now.

previously: renaissances and the transition from shame to guilt in anglo-saxon england (and “core” europe) and archaic greek mating patterns and kinship terms and ελλάδα

*“Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.”

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Study documents early puberty onset in boys“Pediatricians recorded the earliest stage of puberty as occurring in non-Hispanic white boys at age 10.14 years; in non-Hispanic African-American boy at age 9.14 years, and in Hispanic boys at age 10.4. Overall, African-American boys were more likely to start puberty earlier than white or Hispanic boys.”

When Europeans turned white” White European skin evolved relatively fast during the last ice age, specifically from 19,000 to 11,000 years ago…. These color traits—white skin and a diverse palette of hair and eye colors— are not adaptations to a cooler, less sunny climate. They are adaptations by early European women to intense mate competition, specifically a shortage of potential mates due to a low polygyny rate and a high death rate among young men.” — from peter frost.

Intelligence and fertility by class, over time – from the awesome epigone.

The Stupidity of the Discontented? — higher iq people are happier on average — @the breviary.

What Are You So Scared of? Saber-Toothed Cats, Snakes, and Carnivorous Kangaroos“The evolutionary legacy of having been prey.”

Roots of Post-Trauma Resilience Sought in Genetics and Brain Changes – genetics and ptsd.

Young blood really is the key to youth“[G]iving young blood to old mice can reverse some of the effects of age-related cognitive decline.”

Seeking a Chief Exec with the Right Stuff?: Look for a Touch of Psychopathy“An Emory University psychologist recounts why ‘fearless dominance,’ a personality trait used to screen for psychopaths, may be a quality to consider in our next chief executive.”

Desire for revenge, not anger, helps explain why men are more physically aggressive – from the inductivist.

Head and Heart: Are Conservatives More Moral?“‘Intuitions come first, strategic reasoning second.'”

What Is War Good for? Ask a Chimpanzee. — some interesting points in this article — and the cuuuuutest picture of a baby spider monkey! aaaaawwww! (^_^)

bonus: Seed shrimp thought extinct has been living in cave for 40 mil. years – coooooool!

bonus bonus: First life may have survived by cooperating

bonus bonus bonus: Martian genome: Is there DNA on the Red Planet?

bonus bonus bonus bonus: Corruption Continues Virtually Unchecked in Greece“‘We Are Greedy and Asocial'”

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: No Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership“This week, for the third time in four years, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation announced that its prize for achievement in African leadership would not be awarded.” — well, at least they’re not completely crazy like the peace prize people. *roll eyes*

bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus bonus: British man arrested for punching Darth Vader’s wife — really!

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look who else builds tower houses!:

the maniots are peloponnesian greeks who live — or, up until pretty recently, lived — in a clannish society (or so says wikipedia — ctrl+f for “clan” on this page). the mani peninsula is the middle of the three peloponnese “fingers” that stick southwards into the med — and up until modern times it was hard to get to (or into):

“The terrain is mountainous and inaccessible…. Until recent years many Mani villages could be reached only by sea.”

the explanation given for these tower houses is that they were built to protect the maniots from the ottomans, but look what else characterized maniot society — vendettas (see also here)!:

“Another important aspect of Maniot culture were the vendettas which frequently plagued Mani. Usually, the decision to start a vendetta was made at a family gathering. The main aim of a vendetta was usually to wipe out the other family. The families involved locked themselves in their towers and whenever they got the chance murdered members of the opposing family. The other families in the village normally locked themselves in their towers in order not to get in the way of the fighting.

“Some vendettas went on for months, sometimes years. In vendettas, the families could have a truce or treva, if one family needed to attend a religious ceremony or when it was time to harvest the crops. As soon as the treva ended, the killing could resume. Vendettas usually ended when one family was exterminated or when the defeated family left the town. Sometimes families came to terms, and vendettas stopped when the Turks invaded…. Vendettas continued after the liberation of Greece even though the Regency tried to demolish the towers. The Maniot vendetta is considered the most vicious and ruthless. One of the last vendettas on record required the Greek Army with heavy artillery support to force it to a stop.”


the maniots eagerly joined the fight for greece’s independence, but then they didn’t want to be governed from athens — or anywhere else. they wanted rid of the ottomans and didn’t want anyone to govern them but themselves. here’s what happened (from here and here):

“The last bey of Mani, Petros Mavromichalis, was among the leaders of the Greek War of Independence. He proclaimed the revolution at Areopoli on March 17, 1821. The Maniots contributed greatly to the struggle, but once Greek independence was won, they wanted to retain local autonomy. During the reign of Ioannis Kapodistrias, they violently resisted outside interference to the point of killing Kapodistrias….

“After the revolution, Petrobey [petros] became a member of the first Greek Senate, under the leadership of Ioannis Kapodistrias. The two men soon clashed as a result of Kapodistrias’ insistence on establishing a centralized regional administration based on political appointees, replacing the traditional system of family loyalties. Petros’ brother Tzanis led a revolt against the appointed governor of Lakonia; the two brothers were invited to meet Kapodistrias and negotiate a solution but when they showed up, they were arrested. From his prison cell, Petros tried to negotiate a settlement with Kapodistrias; the latter refused. The crisis was then settled by more traditional means: Petros’ brother Konstantinos and his son Georgios assassinated Kapodistrias on October 9, 1831.”

mountain people just want to be left alone.

the maniots, btw, are rumored to be the descendants of the spartans. if true — cool!

and, speaking of tower houses and inbreeding and clannishness and tribalism and all that: shibam!

previously: more on albanians and the flatlanders vs. the mountain people and ελλάδα and more on greece

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so, they got 6.97% of the vote in yesterday’s election in greece.


they got the most votes in a couple of regions in and around athens: korinthias (12.0%), argolidos (9.9%) and attikis (9.7%). they also got a lot of votes further south on the peloponnese peninsula in lakonias (10.2%) and up north in kilkis (8.2%) which is not too far to the north of thessalonika. here’s a map – the darker the shading, the more golden dawn votes:

here’s another map. which is prolly kinda out of date since it’s based on the 2001 greek census, but it was the only one i could find showing the percentages of non-eu immigrants in the various regions (municipalities) of greece (click on maps for LARGER views):

and here’s one for eu immigrants living in greece, also in 2001:

looks like the peloponnesians are tired of all the non-eu immigrants, and that other greeks up north are tired of eu immigrants. not sure who those might be. romanians? bulgarians? dunno.

the peasants are revolting.

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in the article about italy that i quoted in one of yesterday’s posts, the author said:

“When you ask citizens of, for example, Pisa how they identify themselves, they are likely to answer first as Pisans, then as Tuscans, and only after as Italians or Europeans.”

from the world values survey, 1999 — in response to the question: To which of these geographical groups would you say you belong first of all? And the next? And which do you belong to least of all? (click on images for LARGER view):

more than half (53.4%) of italians said they identified most (first) with their local community compared to 38.4% of greeks and 31.9% of americans. only 23.3% of italians identified first with the nation, whereas 35.3% of greeks and 34.9% of americans did. i’m surprised that so many greeks identified first with their nation, but then they are less inbred than italians. why so few americans should identify first with their country, i don’t know. many recent immigrants? too outbred? a combination of both? dunno.

a full 19.5% of americans said they identified first with “The World.” somehow i don’t think that those sentiments are generally reciprocated. maybe from some northern europeans? dunno — will have to check that out.

1999 starts to be a bit old for sentiment data; unfortunately, this (exact) question was not asked on the most recent world values survey (2005), and the respondents from 1999 are practically a whole generation ago now (how time flies!).

here’s the same data from 1999 for each of the three countries by age of respondent. first, greece:

then, italy:

finally, the u.s.:

older greeks (over 50) identified more strongly with their locality than younger greeks, and there was a general downward trend from the eldest to youngest greeks. there’s a u-shaped pattern amongst the italians: like the greeks, italians over 50 were most likely to identify with their locality, but unlike the greeks they were waaay more likely to do so. the subsequent italian generations, like the greeks, were less likely to identify first with their locality, although they did so more than the greeks. but there was an upswing in local identity amongst italians aged 15-29. americans showed an inverse u-shaped pattern in local identity, with 30- and 40-somethings most likely to identify locally than other americans. altogether, americans were much less likely to identify first locally.

again, older greeks had the strongest national sentiments compared to younger greeks, and there was a downward trend over the generations. on the whole, greeks were much more likely to identify first as greeks than italians as italians. and their nationalistic sentiments were pretty comparable to those of americans — a surprise to me! italian feelings of being italian first have increased over the generations, but only slightly, and their percentages are quite a bit below those of greece and the u.s. like the greeks, older americans were more likely to feel american first, and there’s been a downward trend.

younger people (ages 15-29) in both greece and the u.s. were more likely to identify first as citizens of the world — something like 19% in greece and 25% in the u.s. younger italians, too, felt more like global citizens than their elders, but only at a rate of about 10%. in all three cases, as the feelings of being global citizens increased, the feeling of being connected to a locality or nation decreased — or vice versa.

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“Greek military leadership changes spark opposition outcry”

As Greek poltics grew ever more chaotic strong political protests erupted as the government moved to replace military chiefs with officers seen as more supportive of George Papandreou, the prime minister.

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it was a dark and stormy night … there was a knock at the door … no, more of a scraping sound. the scraping of nails … or … fangs on the wood. it could only be one thing … the vrykolakas! come to dole out righteous retribution to its incestuous descendants…. eeek! [pg. 545]:

“The ‘return’ of the blood to the kindred, the ominous reversing of this right-handed spiral movement of the blood, has close parallels in the fatal return of the vampire to its own kin, although I only once heard such a connection between these two ideas being consciously made by villagers. Its occasion was, however, significant; for it arose in a discussion by two women of a marriage between second cousins which had taken place in the village some years before. The women were agreeing that for a marriage to be propitious the participants had to go to ‘strange blood’ (xeno aima) — a statment which is frequently heard and which is the mirror image of the doctrine … that, in cases of the union of similar blood, ‘the blood returns’, bringing catastrophe. In this context the comment then uttered takes on a startling significance, for, said as an aside and half under the breath, it took the form of a well-known proverb: ‘The vampire hunts its own kindred’ (vrykolakas to soi kynigaei). The image of the vampire returning from the grave to hunt its own kin sprang intuitively to mind in the context of blood which in second cousin marriage returns to destroy its originators.”

greeks don’t marry their first-cousins because the practice is not permitted by the greek orthodox church. they also, though, don’t marry their second-cousins by custom (except occasionally, like in the story above, for instance). i wondered before how the traditions of different people — like the ethiopian amhara (and ethiopian jews) — work to stop whatever incestuous practices a people consider to be wrong without the overt power of an authority like a church or civil laws against incestuous marriage. scary, supersitious beliefs like the one above might certainly work in many places. bad luck, bad karma, vampires — frightening stuff!

ok. now i have to go turn on all the lights in the house. (^_^)

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a couple of updates:

1) first, a correction. to the cities of tribes post. i talked about the mating patterns in the medieval city of ragusa in sicily. that should’ve been the medieval city of ragusa now known as dubrovnik! (how was i supposed to know dubrovnik used to be called ragusa?! i’ve always thought ragusa was in sicily — which it is! (~_^) mind you, i was wondering why the author i quoted was talking about the slav families in ragusa. *facepalm*)

2) an update to the clientelism in greece post regarding land reforms in nineteenth century greece. here’s the update:

“regarding this quoted above: ‘Local cultures were never damaged by agricultural reforms….’ the agricultural or land reforms referred to happened when greece gained independence from the ottoman empire in 1835. land that had been a part of turkish-owned estates was redistributed to greek peasants. however, it was done in such a way that the peasants did not have to leave their natal villages (the story was very different in other part of europe, like sweden, where peasants were actually shifted around on the land). for the purposes of this blog, this means that the endogamous mating patterns of the greeks — marrying locally within the village or neighboring village — could go waaaaay back.”

settlement patterns — and any changes in settlement patterns — obviously affect mating patterns. they’re important to know.

that is all!

oh, wait. that’s not all. fyi, i (try to) post any updates in the updates section down there (↓) in the left-hand column.

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