Kleshas and Tanhas

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Origins? of a Normal? Family

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Where does the modern family come from?

I was reading a ping-pong table of statistics in The Way We Wish We Were by Stephanie Coontz. You couldn’t make heads or tails of the numbers that seemingly bounced both ways. Consequently, the essay portrayed the weakness of statistics: they can be manipulated. Pretty easily, actually.

“For example, the proportion of youngsters receiving psychological assistance rose by 80 percent between 1981 and 1988. Does that mean they are getting more sick or receiving more help, or is it some complex combination of the two?” (Coontz.)

Raising an interesting point, I think Coontz did not look far enough back into history in the earlier part of her report. She used the colonial period as the furthest reference back in time. I found this inadequate. Her argument revolved around the fact that lifestyles in the 1950s and 60s did not exist as popular TV shows from that time period suggested. Another decent point made: TV is an inaccurate portrayal of reality. Yet, the other seventeen centuries of the modern era that Coontz forgot to mention (she only used 18-20!) hold some interesting facts; particularly the first century!

There does in fact exist an irony between shows like Leave it to Beaver and The Andy Griffith and the real world hardships in which they aired like the Korean War, the Civil Rights Movement, and the likes. Entertainment feeds off the high lights of life. They bring out the best of people and try to depict a positive image for society to adopt and follow (religiously.)

Gaius Octavian Caesar. Augustus. That’s going back. Quick Roman history lesson. He tried to reinstate marriage laws for citizens. Previously, within Roman society, it was popular for the periodic divorce and remarry cycle to carry out for the sake of gaining power. During his reign, and leading up to it, there was a shortage of marriages among the highest social circles. The image of the young girl being married off to the old man is what were looking at. Adultery was common. Remarriage to these younger females sometimes was a result.

So, to fix the assortment of problems listed above, he made certain laws such as ius trium liberorum (right of three children) that heavily influenced men and women to marry and procreate. There was the incentive of money and tax breaks (of sorts) for those that gave birth to future prospects for public office.

Basically, my argument is that this one man took up the responsibility of forming the glue that holds together what we dub today as the “nuclear family” of the 50s and 60s.

But like the irony with the Beaver and its debut, so too was Octavian’s family. I mean, we are talking about some cousins marrying cousins, affairs, whoring-the works. But, then again, maybe the 50s and 60s (in reality) wasn’t much different. Who am I to judge?

Stepsons, fathers, etc. The woman is Octavian’s wife believe it or not. The angry man is one of the power hungry children that was born of Octavian’s wife through another marriage. The two children in question in Octavian’s (Augustus’) will are Germanicus and Postemus. Neither of them end up succeeding Augustus due to the convenience of murder!


Written by Jack Viere

November 14, 2011 at 4:58 pm

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