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Neither Black Nor White Yet BothThematic Explorations of Interracial Literature$
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Werner Sollors

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195052824

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195052824.001.0001

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Natus Æthiopus/Natus Albus

Natus Æthiopus/Natus Albus

Chapter:
(p.48) Chapter Two Natus Æthiopus/Natus Albus
Source:
Neither Black Nor White Yet Both
Author(s):

Werner Sollors

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195052824.003.0003

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

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