If the phenomenon of modestly large gene pool size and excess genetic diversity has been effective throughout history, two things should follow.  It should have never been explicitly pointed out, but there should be hints that people had noticed something.  The never explicitly pointed out requirement is almost a certainty, else we would be living in a very different world.  Certainly it has never been made explicit to my knowledge.  Some form of realization may have been gained but cloaked in religion, as just about all thinking was until relatively recently.  These we plan to examine in due course.  At present we will be looking at “footprints,” hints that the phenomenon was sensed and expressed in secular ways and that it had detectable effects.  Some day I plan to tell you my name for what has left the spoor. 

Earlier realizations not including religion:
One corollary of the fact that random mating in a large and diverse gene pool will catastrophically reduce fertility is the proposition, “It matters whom you marry, not just emotionally but in terms of the survival of the community.”  So we look to politics and see if we can find times and places where “it matters whom you marry” carried political force.  The results are almost a recital of the most intellectually productive societies we trace our culture to.

The Hebrew tradition is so strong that we almost trace our culture thither and not beyond.  The impact of Hebrew scripture reminds me a bit of the elephant and mouse that crossed a bridge.  When they arrived safely, the mouse looked up and said, “Well we sure shook it, didn’t we?”  With a population the size of a mouse, the Hebrews produced writing that shakes the world to this day. 

In secular terms, their production was also vastly impressive.  It is as if the elephant and the mouse approached the bridge, and the mouse said, “Now over the bridge.”

“No way.  I’ll fall through.”

“It’s safe.  Watch.”  Runs onto the bridge and jumps up and down.

“Safe for you, but I’m scared.”

“But we have to.”

“I won’t cross it unless you cross at the same time.”

“Very well, then.”  They cross together.

The mouse’s remark takes on a different tone.

Much of what they did is somebody else’s work and not published, but I for one have been convinced after much nay saying and foot dragging.  I would tell all if I could.

But one thing I can point out.  There were twelve tribes.  This was at least briefly a unified nation.  They traded, shared religion and culture, died side by side in war, but they never broke down their tribal system except once when the tribes of Benjamin and Judah united.  It mattered whom you married.  The Old Testament has an enormous amount of genealogy.  Family mattered.  When family matters, great things happen.

Egypt also was an intellectual power house.  Unthinkably ancient and stable, with copious literature and legendary art and architecture, Egypt looms above the mists of time with the breathtaking splendor of her own pyramids.  I described early on how some of the stability appears to be due to her unique geography.  But there is more to it than that.  It mattered whom you married.  The tales from ancient Egypt record the power and influence of women and their tendency to be related to their husbands in the houses of power.  Given that, their intellectual accomplishments were assured.  Anybody would have done it.

We look to our universities to maintain our intellectual roots.  They by and large go back to the Renaissance, where people looked back to Greece for their founders, and beyond that looked to Egypt.  (Frances A. Yates Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition University of Chicago Press, Chicago 1964)  The Greeks certainly believed their culture went back to Egypt.  When Plato tells his story of Atlantis, it is credited to an Egyptian priest, who scolds that the Greeks have forgotten their own glorious military past.  

The intellectual accomplishments of Greece are so important that one runs out of superlatives.  The Renaissance in Europe eagerly looked into Greek teachings.  When Darwin enunciated his theory of evolution, somebody pointed out to him how clearly and specifically Aristotle had scooped him.  To my reading, later work bore out Aristotle as having been closer to the present understanding.  Darwin tended to lean toward the stuff of evolution being due to inheritance of acquired characteristics, the blacksmith building big muscles, which he passed on to his son.  Aristotle said it was chance.  We would say random mutation. 

It mattered whom you married in ancient Greece.  Women were pretty much kept secluded in the home, legends of free and independent goddesses notwithstanding.  Plato, in the voice of Socrates, railed against the practice.  Homer objected.  The last words of his hero Hector to his wife … Hector was on the wall of Troy saying goodbye to his family before going out to meet the Greeks in the campaign that would end with his death at the very gate.  Hector, for plot purposes, always said exactly the wrong thing every time he opened his mouth.  Go back and read the story.  He insults everybody.  So on the wall, the bold warrior kissed his wife and then bent over to kiss his baby boy.  The infant looked up at the grim horsehair plume of Hectors’ helmet and screamed in horror.  With the liquid motion of a super athlete, Hector swept the helmet from his head, dashed it upon the pavement and kissed the child.  Then he turned to his wife and said, “A woman’s place is in the home …” A brave man he was, with a real talent for being a jerk. 

But that seclusion, that restriction of a woman’s social horizon, all unwittingly and had the truth been known unnecessarily, provided the stable population, the enduring culture and the prolonging of intellectual growth that is the reason we have even heard about Plato and Homer, not to mention Hector.  It mattered whom you married to the Greeks, but they didn’t know why it was important. 

In the years following the Norman Conquest it clearly mattered whom you married in England.  Women could inherit land.  If you were landed and rich, you wanted to marry a landed rich woman to keep the family fortunes good.  Everybody would have aped the rich, and social mixing would have been suppressed.  The literature, the stability and intellectual accomplishments of Britain in the centuries following the Conquest surpassed all that had gone before. 

But they never figured it out.  They never discovered that the claustrophobic social atmosphere was not only their only weakness but also their greatest strength. 

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