Why is there incest in Greek Myths?

Bart Dale

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
I am only aware one example invovling mere mortals, Oedipus Rex, and that was accidental.

The typical example was a god marrying his sister, but that was because if you were a god, and you needed to marry a goddess, your choices were really limited. Also, the gods of Greek myths were often the personification of forces nature - the brother and sister symbolically represented the male and femal elements, and it made it more symetrical for sibling to marry sibling. But it is uncommon outside of thr gods in Greek mythology.

You see this in other cultures, gods marrying their sisters. No other person would be good enough for thr god to marry. In the Norse Volsunga Saga, Signy is married to a man who had killed all her family except one brother, Signmund, who she helped escape. She sends all her sons to her brother to be tested, but they all fail, and she has Sigmund kill them because they are too week, Only the son she sired with her brothet (she had exhanged shape with a sorceress to sleep with him) proved strong enough for her task of revenge, i.e., only the pure blood of the Volsunga was strong enough. Same principle applied I think when Greek gods married their own siblings.

Bit when it
Nov 2016
With regard to incest in royal Egyptian families, I propose the following explanation:

The reason probably lies in the fact that the king's legitimation was strongest when the king carried the "blood" of two royal parents, i.e. a royal father and a royal mother. This was guaranteed by a royal sibling marriage, as both partners were descended from the same king. The resulting heir to the throne was thus 100% legitimate, instead of only 50% as in a conventional marriage. Egyptian kings who went even further on this point were Amenhotep III and Ramses II, who not only married their sisters but also their own daughters. A sibling marriage is also said to have been the case with 7 of 13 Ptolemaic kings. Such regulations are likely to be a transitional phase, i.e. a compromise solution, between matrilinear and patrilinear thinking.
Aug 2016
Japanese myth is full of incest. Might have something to do with being a fairly isolated island nation. Ancient Greeks were likely fairly isolated for much of their earliest history too.

A lot of gods aren't "born" in the same way humans are born and this might make it seem less like "real" siblings marrying.


Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
I am only aware one example invovling mere mortals, Oedipus Rex, and that was accidental.
There was also Smyrna who intentionally slept with her father (he didn't know it was her). And Byblis who fell in love with her brother Caunus, but in this case no sexual act occurred - he ran away and she died of grief.


Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
that's about it , Incest is common in animals , there doesn't seems to be any taboo about it , though some specie have developed avoidance mechanism
it would seems that as far back as hunters phase Incest was proscribed , recorded hunter societies have strong interdiction about it

as a mental impulse it is naturally strong , when growing up ,one's sexuality emerge to the fore within the family group and youth tend to be indiscriminate in its affections .
since it is strongly repressed , for very good reasons it become fertile ground for myths , the public record of the collective unconscious

There is incest in most creation stories , probably also for simple arithmetics


Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
Slovenia, EU
I like Greek mythology because it covers all human aspects, also most dirty and negative ones by our christian standards.
  • Like
Reactions: Olympia221


Ad Honorem
Jun 2015
Because their moral standards were different to ours. They also believed that older men had the duty to have sex with younger men, as a natural rite of passage.
  • Like
Reactions: macon