PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID
THE CONTEMPORARY SCIENCE SERIES.
EDITED BY HAVELOCK ELLIS.
EVOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
AND OF THE FAMILY
General Secretary to the Anthropological Society of Paris,
and Professor in the School of Anthropology.
WALTER SCOTT, 24 WARWICK LANE
THE BIOLOGICAL ORIGIN OF MARRIAGE . . 1-19
I. The True Place of Man in the Animal Kingdom.
III. Rut and Love.
IV. Love of Animals.
MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY AMONGST ANIMALS . 20-36
I. The Preservation of Species.
II. Marriage and the Rearing of the Young among Animals.
III. The Family amongst Animals.
PROMISCUITY . . . . .' . 37-55
I. Has there been a Stage of Promiscuity?
II. Cases of Human Promiscuity.
SOME SINGULAR FORMS OF SEXUAL ASSOCIATION . 56-72
I. Primitive Sexual Immorality.
II. Some Strange Forms of Marriage.
I. Sexual Proportion of Births : its Influence on
II. Ethnography of Polyandry.
III. Polyandry in Ancient Arabia.
IV. Polyandry in General.
MARRIAGE BY CAPTURE . ... 89-104
II. Marriage by Capture.
III. Signification of the Ceremonial of Capture.
MARRIAGE BY PURCHASE AND BY SERVITUDE . 105-121
I. The Power of Parents.
II. Marriage by Servitude.
III. Marriage by Purchase.
PRIMITIVE POLYGAMY . . . . .122-137
I. Polygamy in Oceania, Africa, and America.
II. Polygamy in Asia and in Europe.
POLYGAMY OF CIVILISED PEOPLE . . . 138-153
I. The Stage of Polygamy.
II. Arab Polygamy.
III. Polygamy in Egypt, Mexico, and Peru.
IV. Polygamy in Persia and India.
PROSTITUTION AND CONCUBINAGE . . . 154-170
I. Concubinage in General.
III. Various Forms of Concubinage.
PRIMITIVE MONOGAMY ..... 171-187
I. The Monogamy of Inferior Races.
II. Monogamy in the Ancient States of Central America.
III. Monogamy in Ancient Egypt.
IV. Monogamy of the Touaregs and Abyssinians.
V. Monogamy among the Mongols of Asia.
VI. Monogamy and Civilisation.
HEBREW AND ARYAN MONOGAMY . . . 188-206
I. Monogamy of the Races called Superior.
II. Hebrew Marriage.
III. Marriage in Persia and Ancient India.
IV. Marriage in Ancient Greece.
V. Marriage in Ancient Rome.
VI. Barbarous Marriage and Christian Marriage.
I. Adultery in General.
II. Adultery in Melanesia.
III. Adultery in Black Africa.
IV. Adultery in Polynesia.
V. Adultery in Savage America.
VI. Adultery in Barbarous America.
VII. Adultery among the Mongol Races and in Malaya.
VIII. Adultery among the Egyptians, the Berbers, and the Semites.
IX. Adultery in Persia and India.
X. Adultery in the Greco-Roman World.
XL Adultery in Barbarous Europe.
XII. Adultery in the Past and in the Future.
REPUDIATION AND DIVORCE .... 228-248
I. In Savage Countries.
II. Divorce and Repudiation among Barbarous Peoples.
III. The Evolution of Divorce.
WIDOWHOOD AND THE LEVIRATE . . . 249-266
I. Widowhood in Savage Countries.
II. Widowhood in Barbarous Countries.
III. The Levirate.
THE FAMILIAL CLAN IN AUSTRALIA AND
I. The Family.
II. The Family in Melanesia.
III. The Family in America.
THE FAMILIAL CLAN AND ITS EVOLUTION . 285-302
I. The Clan among the Redskins.
II. The Family among the Redskins.
III. The Family in Polynesia.
IV. The Family among the Mongols.
V. The Clan and the Family.
THE MATERNAL FAMILY ..... 303-321
I. The Familial Clan and the Family properly so-
II. The Family in Africa.
III. The Family in Malaya.
IV. The Family among the Nai'rs of Malabar.
V. The Family among the Aborigines of Bengal.
VII. The Primitive Family.
THE FAMILY IN CIVILISED COUNTRIES . . 322-340
I. The Family in China.
II. The Family among the Semitic Races.
III. The Family among the Berbers.
IV. The Family in Persia.
V. The Family in India.
VI. The Greco-Roman Family.
VII. The Family in Barbarous Europe.
MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY IN THE PAST, THE
PRESENT, AND THE FUTURE . . . 341-360
I. The Past.
II. The Present.
III. The Future.
INDEX 3 6x
A FEW preliminary observations in regard to the aim and
method of this work may be useful to the reader.
He will do well to begin by persuading himself, with
Montaigne, that the "hinges of custom" are not always
the " hinges of reason," and still less those of reality in all
times and places. He will do better still to steep himself
in the spirit of scientific evolution, and to bear in mind that
incessant change is the law of the social, quite as much as
of the physical and organic world, and that the most
splendid blossoms have sprung from very humble germs.
This is the supreme truth of science, and it is only when
such a point of view has become quite familiar to
us that we shall be neither troubled nor disconcerted
by the sociological history of humanity ; and however
shocking or unnatural certain customs may appear, we
shall guard ourselves against any feeling of indignation
at them, and more especially against a thoughtless refusal
to give credence to them, simply because they run counter
to our own usages and morality.
All that social science has a right to ask of the facts
which it registers is that they should be authentic; this
duly proved, it only remains to accept, classify, and
interpret them. Faithful to this method, without which
there could be no science of sociology, I have here gathered
together as proofs a number of singular facts, which,
improbable as they may appear according to our pre-
conceived notions, and criminal according to our moral
, sense, are nevertheless most instructive. Although in a
former work I have taken care to establish the relativity of
morality, the explanations that I am about to make are
not out of season ; for the subject of this book is closely
connected with what, par excellence^ we call " morals."
On this point I must permit myself a short digression.
No one will pretend that our so-called civilised society
has a very strict practical morality, yet public opinion still
seems to attach a particular importance to sexual morality,
and this is the expression of a very real sentiment, the
origin of which scientific sociology has no difficulty in
retracing. This origin, far from being a lofty one, goes
back simply to the right of proprietorship in women similar
to that in goods and chattels a proprietorship which we
find claimed in savage, and even in barbarous countries,
without any feeling of shame. During the lower stages of
social evolution, women are uniformly treated as domestic
animals ; but this female live-stock are difficult to guard ;
for, on the one hand, they are much coveted and are unskil-
ful in defending themselves, and on the other, they do not
bend willingly to the one-sided duty of fidelity that is im-
posed on them. The masters, therefore, protect their own
interests by a whole series of vexatious restraints, of rigorous
punishments, and of ferocious revenges, left at first to the
good pleasure of the marital proprietors, and afterwards
regulated and codified. In the chapter on adultery,
especially, will be found a great number of examples of
this marital savagery. I have previously shown, in my
Evolution de la Morale^ that the unforeseen result of all this
jealous fury has been to endow humanity, and more par-
ticularly women, with the delicate sentiment of modesty,
unknown to the animal world and to primitive man.
From this evolution of thousands of years there has
finally resulted, in countries and races more or less civilised,
a certain sexual morality, which is half instinctive, and
varies according to time and place, but which it is im-
possible to transgress without the risk of offending gravely
against public opinion. Civilisations, however, whether
coarse or refined, differ from each other. Certain actions,
counted as blameworthy in one part of the world, are
elsewhere held as lawful and even praiseworthy. In order
to trace the origin of marriage and of the family, it is
therefore indispensable to relate a number of practices
which may be scandalous in our eyes. While submitting
to this necessity, I have done so unwillingly, and with all
the sobriety which befits the subject. I have striven never
to depart from the scientific spirit, which purifies everything,
and renders even indecency decent.
Like the savages of to-day, our distant ancestors were
very little removed from simple animal existence. A
knowledge of their physiology is nevertheless necessary
to enable us to understand our own; for, however culti-
vated the civilised man may be, he derives from the
humble progenitors of his race a number of instincts which
are energetic in proportion as they are of a low order.
More or less deadened, these gross tendencies are latent in
the most highly developed individuals ; and when they
sometimes break out suddenly in the actions of a man's
life, or in the morals or literature of a people, they recall
to us our very humble origin, and even show a certain
mental and moral retrogression.
Now it is to this primitive man, still in such a rudi-
mentary state, that we must go back for enlightenment on
the genesis of all our social institutions. We must take him
at the most distant dawn of humanity, follow him step by
step in his slow metamorphoses, without either disparaging
or poetising him ; we must watch him rising and becoming
more refined through accumulated centuries, till he loses
by degrees his animal instincts, and at length acquires
aptitudes, inclinations, and faculties that are truly human.
Nothing is better adapted to exemplify the evolution
which binds our present to our past and to our future
, than the sociological history of marriage and of the family.
After having spoken of the aim of this book, it remains
for me to justify its method. This differs considerably
from what the mass of the public like far too well. But
a scientific treatise must not take purely literary works
for its models ; and I can say to my readers, with much
more reason than old Rabelais, that if they wish to taste
the marrow, they must take the trouble to break the bone.
My first and chief consideration is to assist in the founda-
tion of a new science ethnographical sociology. Elegant
and vain dissertations, or vague generalities, have no place
here. It is by giving way to these, and in attempting to
reap the harvest before sowing the seed, that many authors
have lost themselves in a pseudo-sociology, having no
foundation, and consequently no value.
Social science, if it is to be seriously constituted, must
submit with docility to the method of natural science. The
first task, and the one which especially falls to the lot of the
sociologists of the present day, is to collect the facts which
will form materials for the future edifice. To their suc-
cessors will fall the pleasure of completing and adorning it.
The present work is, therefore, above all, a collection of
facts which, even if taken alone, are curious and suggestive.
These facts have been patiently gleaned from the writings
of ethnographers, travellers, legists, and historians. I have
classed them as well as I could, and naturally they have
inspired me here and there with glimpses of possible induc-
tions, and with some slight attempts at generalisation.
But whether the reader rejects or accepts my interpre-
tations, the groundwork of facts on which they rest is so
instructive of itself that a perusal of the following pages
cannot be quite fruitless.
THE EVOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
AND OF THE FAMILY.
THE BIOLOGICAL ORIGIN OF MARRIAGE.
I. The True Place of Man in the Animal Kingdom. Man is a
mammiferous, bimanous vertebrate Biology the starting-point of
sociology The origin of love.
II. Reproduction. Nutrition and reproduction Scissiparity
Budding Ovulation Conjugation Impregnation Reproduction in
the invertebrates The entity called Nature Organic specialisation
and reproduction A dithyramb by Haeckel.
III. Rut and Love. Rut renders sociable Rut is a short puberty
Its organic adornment The frenzy of rut Physiological reason
of rut in mammals Love and rut Schopenhauer and the designs of
IV. Love of Animals. Love and death The law of coquetry The
law of battle Jealousy and aesthetic considerations Love amongst
birds Effects of sexual selection The loves of the skylark The
males of the blue heron and their combats Battles of male geese and
male gallinacese Courteous duels between males Esthetic seduction
among certain birds ^Esthetic constructions Musical seduction
Predominance of the female among certain birds Greater sensuality
of the male Effect of sexual exaltation A Cartesian paradox
Individual choice amongst animals Individual fancies of females
THE E VOL UTION OF MARRIA GE
I. The True Place of Man.
We have too long been accustomed to study human
society as if man were a being apart in the universe. In
comparing human bipeds with animals it has seemed as if
we were disparaging these so-called demi-gods. It is to
this blind prejudice that we must attribute the tardy rise
of anthropological sociology. A deeper knowledge of
biological science and of inferior races has at last cured
us of this childish vanity. We have decided to assign to
man his true place in the organic world of our little globe.
Granted that the human biped is incontestably the most
intelligent of terrestial animals, yet, by his histological
texture, by his organs, and by the functions of these organs,
he is evidently only an animal, and easily classed in the
series : he is a bimanous, mammiferous vertebrate. Not that
by his most glorious representatives, by those whom we call
men of genius, man does not rise prodigiously above his
distant relations of the mammal class ; but, on the other
hand, by imperfectly developed specimens he descends far
below many species of animals ; for if the idiot is only an
exception, the man of genius is still more so. In fact, the
lowest human races, with whose anatomy, psychology, and
sociology we are to-day familiar, can only inspire us with
feelings of modesty. They furnish studies in ethnography
which have struck a mortal blow at the dreams of " the
kingdom of man."
When once it is established that man is a mammal like
any other, and only distinguished from the animals of his
class by a greater cerebral development, all study of human
sociology must logically be preceded by a corresponding
study of animal sociology. Moreover, as sociology finally
depends on biology, it will be necessary to seek in physio-
logical conditions themselves the origin of great sociological
manifestations. The first necessity of societies is that they
should endure, and they can only do so on the condition
of providing satisfaction for primordial needs, which are the
condition of life itself, and which imperatively dominate
and regulate great social institutions. Lastly, if man is a
sociable animal, he is not the only one ; many other species
AND OF THE FAMIL Y. 3
have grouped themselves in societies, where, however
rudimentary they may be, we find in embryonic sketch the
principal traits of human agglomerations. There are even
species as, for example, bees, ants, and termites that have
created true republics, of complicated structure, in which
the social problem has been solved in an entirely original
manner. We may take from them more than one good
example, and more than one valuable hint.
My present task is to write the history of marriage and
of the family. The institution of marriage has had no
other object than the regulation of sexual unions. These
have for their aim the satisfaction of one of the most
imperious biological needs the sexual appetite; but this
appetite is only a conscious impulse, a "snare," as Mon-
taigne calls it, which impels both man and animal to
provide, as far as concerns them, for the preservation of
their species to "pay the ancestral debt," according
to the Brahmanical formula. Before studying the sexual
relations, and their more or less regulated form in human
societies, it will not be out of place to say a few words on
reproduction in general, to sketch briefly its physiology in
so far as this is fundamental, and to show how tyrannical
are the instincts whose formation has been determined by
physiological causes, and which render the fiercest animals
mild and tractable. This is what I shall attempt to do in
the following chapter.
Stendhal has somewhere said that the beautiful is simply
the outcome of the useful ; changing the phrase, we
may say that generation is the outcome of nutrition. If
we examine the processes of generation in very simple
organisms, this great function seems to answer to a super-
abundance of nutritive materials, which, after having carried
the anatomic elements to their maximum volume, at length
overflows and provokes the formation of new elements. As
long as the new-born elements can remain aggregated with
those which already constitute the individual, as long as the
latter has not acquired all the development compatible with
4 THE EVOLUTION OF MARRIAGE
the plan of its being, there is simply growth. When once
the limit is attained that the species cannot pass, the
organism (I mean a very rudimentary organism) repro-
duces itself commonly by a simple division in two halves.
It perishes in doubling itself and in producing two
beings, similar to itself, and having nothing to do but grow.
It is by means of this bi-partition that hydras, vorticellae,
algae, and the lowest mushrooms are generally propagated.
In the organisms that are slightly more complicated the
function of reproduction tends to be specialised. The
individual is no longer totally divided ; it produces a bud
which grows by degrees, and detaches itself from the parent
organism to run in its turn through the very limited adven-
tures of its meagre existence.
By a more advanced step in specialisation the function of
reproduction becomes localised in a particular cell, an
ovule, and the latter, by a series of repeated bi-partitions,
develops a new individual ; but it is generally necessary that
the cellule destined to multiply itself by segmentation should
at first dissolve by union with another cell. Through
the action of various organic processes the two generating
cells arrive in contact. The element which is to undergo
segmentation the female element then absorbs the
element that is simply impulsive ; the element called male
becomes impregnated with it, and from that moment it is
fertilised, that is to say, capable of pursuing the course of
its formative work.
This phenomenon, so simple in itself, of the conjugation
of two cellules, is the foundation of reproduction in the two
organic kingdoms as soon as the two sexes are separated.
Whether the sexes are represented by distinct or united
individuals, whether the accessory organic apparatus is
more or less complicated, are matters of no consequence ;
the essential fact reappears always and everywhere of the
conjugation of two cellules, with absorption, in the case
of superior animals, of the male cellule by the female
The process may be observed in its most elementary form
in the algce and the diatomaceae, said to be conjugated.
To form a reproductive cellule, or spore, two neighbouring
cellules each throw out, one towards the other, a prolongation.
AND OF THE FAMIL K $
These prolongations meet, and their sides absorb each
other at the point of contact ; then the protoplasms of the
two elements mingle, and at length the two cellules melt
into a single reproductive cellule (Spirogyra longata).
Between this marriage of two lower vegetal cellules,
which realises to the letter the celebrated biblical words,
u they shall be one flesh," or rather one protoplasm, and
the fundamental phenomenon of fecundation in the superior
animals, including man, there is no essential dissimilarity.
The ovule of the female and the spermatozoon of the male
become fused in the same manner, with this difference only,
that the feminine cellule, the ovule, preserves its individu-
ality and absorbs the masculine cellule, or is impregnated
But, simple as it is, this phenomenon of fecundation
is the sole reason of the duration of bi-sexual species.
Thanks to it, organic individuals that are all more or less
" Et, quasi cursores, vita'i lampada tradunt."
(Lucretius, ii. 78.)
For many organised beings reproduction seems in reality
the supreme object of existence. Numbers of vegetables
and of animals, even of animals high in the series as insects
die as soon as they have accomplished this great duty.
Sometimes the male expires before having detached himself
from the female, and the latter herself survives just long
enough to effect the laying of eggs. Instead of laying eggs,
the female cochineal fills herself with eggs to such a degree
that she dies in consequence, and the tegument of her
body is transformed into a protecting envelope for the
At the not very distant time when animism reigned
supreme, these facts were attributed to calculations of
design. Nature, it was believed, occupied herself chiefly
with perpetuating organised species ; as for individuals, she
disdained the care of them. We now know that Nature,
as an anthropomorphic being, does not exist ; that the great
forces called natural are unconscious ; that their blind action
results, however, in the world of life, in a choice, a selection,
6 THE E VOL UTION OF MARRIA GE
a progressive evolution, or, to sum up, in the survival of the
individuals best adapted to the conditions of their existence.
Without any intention of Dame Nature, the preservation of
the species was necessarily, before anything else, the object
of selection ; and during the course of geological periods
primitive bi-partition gradually became transformed through
progressive differentiation into bi-sexual procreation, re-
quiring the concurrence of special and complicated apparatus
in order to be effected. But, at the same time as procreation,
other functions also became differentiated by the formation
of special organs ; the nervous system vegetated around
the chorda dorsalis; and, finally, conscious life awoke in
the nervous centres. Thenceforth the accomplishment of
the great function of procreation assumed an entirely
different aspect. In the lowest stages of the animal
kingdom reproduction is effected mechanically and un-
consciously. A paramoecium, observed by M. Balbiani,
produced in forty-two days, by a series of simple bi-
partitions, 1,384,116 individuals, who very certainly had
not the least notion of the phenomena by which they
transmitted existence. But with superior animals it is
very different; in their case the act of procreation is a
real efflorescence, not only physical, but psychical. For
the study that I am now undertaking it will not be without
use to recall the principal features of this amorous efflor-
escence, since it is, after all, the first cause of marriage and
of the family. At the same time, not to lose our stand-
point, it is important to bear in mind that at the bottom all
this expenditure of physical and psychical force has for
motive and for result, both in man and animal, the con-
jugation of two generative cellules. Haeckel has written
a dithyramb on this subject in his Anthropogenia, which
is in the main so true that I take pleasure in quoting
it "Great effects are everywhere produced, in animated
nature, by minute causes. . . . Think of how many curious
phenomena sexual selection gives rise to in animal life ;
think of the results of love in human life ; now, all this has
for its raison d'etre the union of two cellules. . . . There is
no organic act which approaches this one in power and in
the force of differentiation. The Semitic myth of Eve
seducing Adam for the love of knowledge, the old Greek