Page:Myth, Ritual, and Religion (Volume 1).djvu/281

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that marriage was originally unknown, but that, as among Australians and some Red Indians, the family name descended through the mother, and kinship was reckoned on the female side before the time of Cecrops.[1]

While Greek opinion, both popular and philosophical, admitted, or rather asserted, that savagery lay in the background of the historical prospect, Greek institutions retained a thousand birth-marks of savagery. It is manifest and undeniable that the Greek criminal law, as far as it affected murder, sprang directly from the old savage blood-feud.[2] The Athenian law was a civilised modification of the savage rule that the kindred of a slain man take up his blood—feud. Where homicide was committed within the circle of blood relationship, as by Orestes, Greek religion provided the Erinnyes to punish an offence which had, as it were, no human avenger. The precautions taken by murderers to lay the ghost of the slain man were much like those in favour among the Australians. The Greek cut off the extremities of his victim, the tips of the hands and feet, and disposed them neatly beneath the arm-pits of the slain man.[3] In the same spirit, and for the same purpose, the Australian black cuts off the thumbs of his dead enemy, that the ghost too may be mutilated and prevented from throwing at him with a ghostly spear. We learn also from Apollonius Rhodius and his scholiast that Greek mur-

  1. Suidas, s.v. "Prometheus;" Augustine, De Civitate Dei, xviii. 9.
  2. Duncker, History of Greece, Engl. transl., vol. ii. p. 129.
  3. See "Arm-pitting in Ancient Greece," in the American Journal of Philology, October 1885, where a discussion of the familiar texts in Æschylus and Apollonius Rhodius will be found.