Chapter

Natus Æthiopus/Natus Albus

Werner Sollors

in Neither Black Nor White Yet Both

Published in print October 1997 | ISBN: 9780195052824
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855155 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195052824.003.0003
Natus Æthiopus/Natus Albus

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A light-skinned woman gives birth to a dark child; a dark mother gives birth to a light child. In both cases, the husband has the same color as the mother. Aristotle utilized the story of the woman of Elis in order to provide the explanation of what came to be called atavism, which literally means “great-grandfather-ism,” a descendant's surprising “resemblance to grand-parents or more remote ancestors rather than to parents.” Physical traits may skip one, two, or even many generations. Interestingly, Ovid utilized a story of Aurora's giving birth to Memnon in a similar method and inferred that this may have been an adultery case, since the poet addresses Aurora and wishes that he could also hear from her husband Tithonus.

Keywords: Aristotle; atavism; Ellis; Ovid; Aurora; Memnon; Tithonius; resemblance

Chapter.  13982 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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