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Incest ( Latin Incestus "unchaste"), dated incest , refers to sexual intercourse between closely consanguineous people. At its most severe, incest is the pairing of a parent with their biological child , for example in cases of sexual abuse of children in the family. The consensual sexual relationship between adult siblings is also classified as a criminal incest by the legal provisions of several countries, including Germany ( see below ).

Incest is thematically overlapping with, but has to be distinguished from inbreeding in humans , the reproduction among blood relatives with an accompanying loss of ancestry . This was mainly practiced earlier in the context of widespread relatives marriages in the European aristocracy , in remote rural areas or in foreign communities and harbors health risks.

Incest prohibitions (incest taboos) are based in all cultures on proximity, the degree of relationship , but differ in the demarcation of boundaries. Social groups , societies and, above all, religions have very different ideas of what incest is to be forbidden - or what incest is desired or even required by the members (incest laws).

Medical and genetic aspects

Incest is punishable by medical and genetic reasons, among other things. However, this justification relates only to the risk of having a child during sexual intercourse between close relatives. Findings in human genetics and heredity suggest that inbreeding in humans massively increases the likelihood of hereditary diseases occurring.

historical development

The norms regarding incest prohibitions and incest laws (because there are also such, for example cross-cousin marriage in some tribal societies) do not only differ between cultures and between social classes; historically, the understanding of which connection is allowed and which is not has been subject to great change .


One example is the sibling marriage widespread among the pharaohs of ancient Egypt , which was maintained under the Hellenistic rulers even after the Greek conquest; so was Cleopatra VII with her brothers Ptolemy XIII. and Ptolemy XIV married. Sibling marriages were by no means rare in Egypt outside of the pharaonic dynasties. This is particularly evident from the census records that have been preserved from the Greco-Roman period.

Old Babylonian Empire

In the Babylonian Empire, under Hammurabi , the 6th king of the 1st Dynasty of Babylon, sexual intercourse between birth parents and children was forbidden. In the Codex Hammurapi , the facts recorded on the one hand the sexual intercourse between father and daughter and on the other hand the cohabitation between mother and son. The respective legal consequences provided that the father was banished and the mother and son were punished with death.

Another ban made sexual intercourse between son and stepmother a criminal offense. A key element of the offense, however, was that the stepmother and the late husband must have fathered at least one child. Here, too, the legal consequence was the exile of the stepson.

Persian Empire

Incest marriage had a great cultic and social significance in the ancient Persian Empire , which possibly goes back to the time of the Elamites . In a more recent text from the Avesta collection , the Yasna Haptahati , the religious ideas of Zoroastrianism after the death of the founder of the religion are presented. Ahura Mazda appears as a god of heaven and as a wise lord, who himself practices Altarian incest marriage ( avestisch xvaetvadatha ) and declares it to be a divine institution. The word xvaetvadatha is roughly translated as “he who marries into kinship”. The Yasna Haptahati reports for the first time about this custom of the Achaemenid great kings since Cambyses I (first half of the 6th century BC). From several Achaemenid rulers to Artaxerxes III. (ruled 359–338 BC) is known to have entered into a marriage with their sister, half-sister or one of their daughters. The powerful priesthood ( Mager ), whose job it was to control the observance of complicated rites, does not seem to have contradicted this practice.

Yasna 12: 9 contains the commandment to incest. Behind this was probably the need to avoid ritual contamination, and the Iranian nobility, which is spread over large areas, was supposed to be socially sealed off. In a later religious teaching, Zarathustra himself is declared to be the creator of xvaetvadatha . According to sources, incest marriage occurred during the Parthian era both among the nobility and among the priests of Zoroastrianism. Parthian kings married their half-sisters, and some married their mothers.

Greece and Hellenism

The Greeks had siblings among the Olympian gods , for example Zeus , the chief of the gods, and his wife Hera were siblings. But even among humans, connections between relatives were not inadmissible from the outset:

  • Relationships between parents and children were cursed. In the well-known example of Oedipus , who unknowingly marries his mother, the (equally unknowing) parricide appears as a more essential crime.
  • The Athenian Kimon married his half-sister Elpinike , although it is not entirely clear whether connections between half-siblings were considered illegal.
  • The Spartan King Leonidas I was married to his niece Gorgo , the daughter of his half-brother Cleomenes .
  • As already mentioned, sibling marriage was apparently accepted by the Ptolemaic kings in the Hellenistic world, the fact was even emphasized in the epithet, as with Ptolemy II Philadelphos ("the sibling lover"), who was married to his sister Arsinoë II . Here, similar to the Romans, a point of view could have been effective that applied different standards to connections between or with members of other religions and cultures (here the Egyptians) than to connections between Greeks. The Romans differentiated between incestus iure gentium (incest among members of other peoples), which was not persecuted, and incestus iure civili (incest among Roman citizens), to which the sanctions of Roman law applied.

Roman Empire

As incestus iure civili with the Romans, as with the Greeks, connections between parents and children, grandchildren etc. were initially considered to be connections between parents and children, etc. Incestus (from in “non-” and castus “pure”, “innocent”, “chaste”) , a term that denotes offenses against the law of religion ( nefas ) and especially the violation of the law of chastity by a vestal virgin . This ban even applied to adopted children. Descendants from incestuous marriages were considered fatherless and were not entitled to inheritance. If someone only had children from a marriage that could be declared as incestus , his property fell to the tax authorities on his death. This is the reason why the investigations into incest (especially in the imperial era) were mainly directed against the wealthy and the relevant legislation became more and more detailed over the years.

The lawyer Gaius describes the legal situation in his Institutiones and remarks that connections between a man and his brother's daughter, but not with the sister's daughter, are admittedly permissible. This has been the case since Emperor Claudius had allowed himself to be asked for such a marriage by the Senate, which enabled him to marry Agrippina , the daughter of his brother Germanicus . This decision went down in legal history as Senatus consultum Claudianum and was not explicitly repealed until 438 in the Codex Theodosianus , from then on the uncle marriage was threatened with death. Otherwise, according to Gaius, the following connections were forbidden:

  • between brother and sister, including half-siblings and adoptive siblings (the ban was lifted when the adoption was lifted)
  • with the mother-in-law or daughter-in-law
  • with the stepdaughter or stepmother

According to Ulpian, the prohibition of incestae et nefariae nuptiae ("bloodthirsty and religiously forbidden marriage") applied to parents, children and siblings up to the 4th degree (with the exception of the Claudian exception) in the 3rd century.

Said as punishment for incest fall from Tarpeian rock seems more to the faithless vestal to relate, although cases are occupied, where incest was punished in this particularly dramatic form: After Tacitus emperor Tiberius to Sextus Marius due to incest with his daughter from Falling rock. Tacitus emphasizes, however, that Marius was the richest man in Hispania (whose property was of course confiscated).

In fact, the prosecution of incest was mostly the responsibility of the family court, in later times it was sanctioned with exile, property and corporal punishments . In the Corpus iuris civilis , Justinian I once again makes more precise regulations regarding the children of an incestuous relationship and the property of those involved. Once again it becomes clear that up to late antiquity incest was an offense of members of a wealthy upper class who tried to keep the transfer of assets through inheritance and dowry within the circle of relatives as far as possible.

European high nobility

In Europe, cousin marriage between members of the high nobility and, above all, ruling dynasties was more the rule than the exception into the 20th century. Almost every royal or princely marriage was between cousins ​​of the 2nd or higher degree; But connections between cousins ​​and first-degree cousins ​​also occurred more than average in all ruling houses, but especially in the House of Habsburg . A prominent example is the marriage of the Archdukes Franz (later Emperor Franz II / I) and Ferdinand as well as the Archduchess Maria Klementine of Austria with the princesses Maria Theresa and Maria Luisa and the Crown Prince Franz of Naples-Sicily in 1790 and 1797 respectively : These couples were each two-fold cousins ​​and 1st degree cousins, namely through the twin sisterhood of their parents Emperor Leopold II and Maria Ludovica of Spain as well as King Ferdinand I of Naples-Sicily (born Prince of Spain) and Maria Karolina of Austria : The wife of one man was the sister of the other man, so that Franz married Maria Theresa, the daughter of his maternal uncle and his paternal aunt. The eldest son of Franz and Maria Theresa, who later became Emperor Ferdinand I of Austria , suffered from mental weakness and epilepsy and was therefore unable to exercise the government. The couple had eleven other children. Another example is the spread of hemophilia .

The best-known case of a connection between relatives being sanctioned by the church is the Hammerstein marriage .

Scientific explanations for the rejection of incest

Both biologists and ethnologists , anthropologists and sociologists are concerned with the phenomenon of rejection of incest. For decades, social sciences and psychology rejected a biological explanation for incest prohibitions. It was assumed that family members feel sexually attracted to one another , unless this is prevented by social influences. Evolutions researchers have, however, claimed that innate wiring of nerve cells are designed to detect blood relatives. In addition to the selection of relatives , this recognition system serves to avoid reproduction among blood relatives, because the children that emerge from it are less healthy.


According to the French ethnologist Claude Lévi-Strauss , the rejection of incest cannot be a rational rule to prevent genetic damage in children of incestuous mating

a) this explanation has only appeared in modern times, but the incest prohibition is a much older phenomenon and
b) the risk of hereditary damage only arises through the rule of the prohibition of incest, since only the direct incestuous descendants of an exogamous pair of parents would be subject to "extreme variations" and if endogamy was established, the subsequent generations would not have to expect an increased risk of hereditary damage. “The temporary danger of endogamous associations, if any, obviously results from a tradition of exogamy or ' pangamy '; it cannot be the cause ”(1948).

Cultural prohibitions of incest could not be a manifestation of natural drives either, since the rule is not as universal as a universal drive would make it as a cause: incest always occurs despite taboos. Lévi-Strauss also suggested a high number of unreported cases of incest cases. From a psychoanalytical point of view, incest is even a naturally occurring human wish, formulated in Sigmund Freud's theory of the Oedipus conflict . However, this is a highly controversial Freudian assumption that is rejected outside of psychoanalysis.

Lévi-Strauss locates the transition from nature to culture in view of the difficulty in explaining the prohibition of incest. Every marriage is "a dramatic encounter between nature and culture, between the alliance and kinship". Marriage is the "mediation between two loves: parental love and conjugal love". The incest ban arose because "the biological family is no longer alone and has to marry with other families in order to survive".

The background to this is the statement that the prohibition of endogamy in the incest taboo is not primary, but the requirement of exogamy. The exchange of women among families has a solidarity on the one hand and contributes to the opening of a "marriage pool" on the other hand, which enables all families involved to choose partners for their sons.

Evolutionary psychology

The ability to identify relatives has been demonstrated in many animal species, including mammals.

The Finnish ethnologist Edvard Westermarck assumed in 1891 that the rejection of incest is an evolved function. Sexual disinterest would develop among children living together, and since these are mostly related, it fulfills the evolutionary function of reducing the health risk of offspring. This so-called Westermarck hypothesis has been tested in several studies. The most meaningful results came from Wolf (1995). Wolf investigated a Chinese tradition in which young girls are adopted by the parents of a boy to later serve as a bride. Wolf collected data on the resulting marriages and found increased divorce and lower fertility rates in these couples. The Westermarck effect was stronger when the children lived together in the first three years of life.

An empirical test of the Westermarck hypothesis can also be carried out using third party rejection of incest. Lieberman et al. were able to support the hypothesis in 2003 based on related surveys. The length of cohabitation with children of the opposite sex explains both the kinship coefficient and the strength of the moral rejection of incest, even if the degree of kinship is kept constant.

Incest and religion


Incest is mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible . In the Old Testament, for example, the story of Lot's daughters ( Gen 19.31  ELB ) who attended the intoxicated father for fear of not being able to find any more men to raise children after Sodom's demise. The reason for artistic representations and theological discussions is still the rape of the Tamar by her half-brother Amnon ( 2 Sam 13.1–22  EU ). Abraham's wife, Sarah, was his half-sister ( Gen 20.12  ELB ). In the absence of potential other sexual partners, the children of Adam and Eve must also have behaved incestuously , at least with a literal interpretation of the Bible .

Incest not only means sexual intercourse between close blood relatives, but also between close relatives by marriage ( Lev 18.6 ff  ELB ) and is condemned there.


2014: Proportions of marriages between blood relatives worldwide (cousin 2nd degree or closer; see inbreeding coefficients ):
  • 50% and more
  • 40-49%
  • 30-39%
  • 000
  • 20-29%
  • 10-19%
  • 05 - 09%
  • 000
  • 01 - 04%
  • <1%
  • In Islam there are incest prohibitions, which are mentioned in the Koran :

    "And don't marry women your fathers married [...]"

    "Your mothers, your daughters, your sisters, your father-sisters and mother-sisters, your brother-daughters and sister-daughters, your nursing mothers and milk- sisters and the mothers of your wives and your step-daughters, who are in your protection, are denied you from your wives whom you visit." But if you have not yet visited them, it is not a sin. Also the wives of your sons from your loins; and you shouldn't have two sisters together [...] "

    - Sura 4 An-Nisā ' : Verses 22, 23

    In the Islamic regions of North Africa and the Near and Middle East , marriage between cousins ​​on the father's side ( Bint ʿamm ) is widespread. This tradition is of pre-Islamic origin and, for example, also common in traditional Jewish families.

    Roman Catholic Church

    Regarding marriages, canon law is decisive, which is independent of civil law . Marriage and thus cohabitation between first-degree blood relatives violates divine law, from which one can under no circumstances dispense. Ecclesiastical dispensation is required for a Catholic marriage between cousins .

    Incest is the violation of chastity with those whose marriage one of these marital obstacles exists. The extramarital intercourse between cousin and cousin (or the formal wish for one) must therefore be confessed not only as fornication, but also as incest .

    Current legal situation

    2008:  Worldwide legal situation on incest
  • Incest is strictly prohibited
  • Incest not prohibited, incestuous marriage prohibited
  • Incest not forbidden, incestuous marriage only with prior advice
  • Incest not prohibited among adults
  • no incest laws, or no information
  • Incest is a criminal offense in some states. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, only vaginal intercourse is punishable, whereas in Liechtenstein oral and anal intercourse as well as same-sex intercourse are also punishable. In France, the criminality of incest was abolished with the Code pénal français of 1810, but incest with coercive minors was reintroduced as a criminal offense in 2010. Various countries that have taken the French legal system as a model, however, still do not criminalize incest, including Belgium , the Netherlands , Luxembourg , Portugal , Turkey , Japan , Argentina , Brazil and some other Latin American countries.

    Degree of relationship

    When assessing incest, a distinction is made primarily according to the degree of relationship . For distant relatives such as 2nd degree cousins (common great-grandparents ) there is no marriage barrier in any country. In some societies, however, sexual intercourse between people by marriage is considered incest; In Germany too, relationships between brother-in-law and sister-in-law or godparents and goddaughters were subject to the incest taboo and punished until around 1750 .

    Sexual relationships between first-degree cousins ​​and cousins ​​(common grandparents ) were forbidden and socially taboo in Korea, the Philippines and the Balkan countries , while this family relationship was mainly in the cultural area of ​​Islam, i.e. in North Africa, in the oriental region and in South Asia is considered a good prerequisite for a marriage (see Bintʿamm marriage ). In Saudi Arabia , couples wishing to marry, whether related or not, have to have genetic tests carried out, which provide information about the possible endangerment of future offspring from a genetic sickle cell or Mediterranean anemia ( thalassemia ). If there is any danger, the marriage will be prevented. In Germany it is legal for cousins ​​to have sexual relationships and to marry. For Catholics, marriage between blood relatives, including cousins, is forbidden because of the barriers to marriage of the Catholic Church; however, an exemption can be granted by the local bishop. With the introduction of civil marriage, ecclesiastical marriage law has lost its importance.

    Legal situation in Germany

    Incest is in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Austria between lineal relatives - ie parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren - pursues as well as between full and half siblings. In Germany, descendants and siblings are not punished if they were younger than 18 at the time of the offense; however inciting and aiding and abetting it remain punishable. A court entrusted with an incest case according to § 173 StGB can, however (as with any offense ) according to §§ 153 ff. StPO, discontinue the proceedings in the case of “minor guilt”.

    In federal German criminal law, the offense remains fulfilled, even if the family relationship in the sense of civil law has expired through adoption . Section 173 StGB only criminalizes vaginal intercourse between close relatives, other sexual practices are exempt from punishment. The convictions have been at a consistently low level since the mid-1970s. In the years 2007 to 2012 there were eight to twelve convictions for this offense in the Federal Republic of Germany.

    The criminality of incestual acts is socially controversial. Among other things, the Vice-President of the Federal Constitutional Court Winfried Hassemer criticized the criminal liability of sibling incest as disproportionate in a special vote in 2008 on the decision of his Senate on the constitutionality of the prohibition of incest; there is also no consistent justification for the law.

    Current debate

    In recent times it has been argued on various occasions that the incest prohibition is in principle superfluous, since the legal interest of sexual self-determination is to be valued higher than the genetically determined risks for the offspring that may result from incest. In addition, the goal of such a ban is unclear, since the prevention of potentially hereditary offspring is not a goal of the state. It is also suggested that the beginning of an intervention should be based on socio-educational efforts for the well-being of those involved. Where these had no effect, existing conflicts could be resolved more competently by family or guardianship courts. The former legal policy spokesman for the Greens parliamentary group, Jerzy Montag , said in 2012 that “the criminal prosecution of cohabitation among relatives and siblings” is an “anachronism” and moral taboos should not be enforced with criminal law. The Pirate Party also campaigned for the abolition of the incest ban in 2012. In September 2014, a majority of the German Ethics Council recommended decriminalizing sibling incest and abolishing Section 173 StGB. The basic right of adult siblings to sexual self-determination is to be weighted more heavily than the abstract protected family.

    Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, as the legal policy spokeswoman for the Union parliamentary group in the Bundestag, opposed this recommendation. She considers abolition to be the wrong signal; decriminalization runs counter to the protection of the unimpaired development of children in their families. In almost all cases, incest goes hand in hand with dependence on a partner and extremely difficult family relationships. The German Ministry of Justice under Heiko Maas rejected a reform and abolition of Section 173 StGB in September 2014.

    Order of the Federal Constitutional Court of February 26, 2008

    In a decision of February 26, 2008, the Federal Constitutional Court ruled that Section 173 StGB was constitutionally unobjectionable. The legislature pursues purposes which “at least in their entirety legitimize the restriction of the general right of personality ”: The constitutionally required protection of marriage and family comes first as a criminal reason. Incest connections led to an overlap of family relationships and social role distributions and thus to an impairment of the structural assignments in a family. In addition, the incest ban serves to protect sexual self-determination. Section 173 of the Criminal Code focused on specific dependencies caused by closeness in the family or rooted in kinship. Furthermore, the protection against inheritance damage justifies the incest prohibition. The decision was made with 7: 1 votes.

    The Vice President of the Federal Constitutional Court Winfried Hassemer gave a different opinion . Section 173 of the Criminal Code violates the principle of proportionality . There is no legal interest, the violation of which in the case of incest would constitute a criminal ground. In the case of siblings who are of legal age and acting by consensus , it is not clear whose rights should be restricted by sexual intercourse. Rather, it is a victimless crime . One of the main pillars of the incest ban are so-called " eugenic aspects", i.e. the prevention of hereditary diseases. On the one hand, however, it is not clear why the law also applies to contraception and even to prior sterilization . On the other hand, it is constitutionally prohibited to make the protection of the health of potential offspring the basis of criminal law interventions. There are good reasons for criminal law that sexual intercourse is not punishable, even where the probability of disabled offspring is higher and the expected disabilities are more massive than with incest. The prohibition of incest does not serve to protect sexual self-determination, not even the legislature has referred to it. Section 173 of the Criminal Code is also unsuitable for protecting marriage and the family: On the one hand, the provision is too narrow for this purpose, because it only criminalizes coitus, but not other sexual acts, and does not include non-biological siblings, on the other hand, too far, because it covers behavior that can no longer have a harmful effect on family life.

    A complaint was lodged against this judgment with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) (see below). A man ("Patrick S."), who has four children with his sister, sued; the wife and two of the children are disabled.

    Statement by the GfH

    In response to the judgment, the German Society for Human Genetics published a statement in which the arguments of the Federal Constitutional Court are criticized from the standpoint of human genetics . Eugenics means “according to internationally agreed understanding, the dirigistic endeavor - however defined - 'improvement' of the collective genetic makeup of a population.” Not only that incest connections between siblings have no significant influence on the gene pool of a population anyway ; the (quite existing) higher risk that children from such relationships could develop recessively inherited diseases does not justify any legal interference with the “reproductive freedom” of a couple. The risk of such diseases (e.g. cystic fibrosis or spinal muscular atrophy ) naturally also exists for children of couples who are not related by blood. If a child already has such a disease, their siblings have a 25% risk of developing the hereditary disease as well. For some diseases, this risk is much higher. However, legislation that forbids further sexual intercourse in such cases would meet with widespread social rejection, and the right to carry out the risk assessment associated with the desire to have children is one of the core elements of personal rights.

    Decision of the European Court of Human Rights 2012

    On April 12, 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the Patrick S. ./. Germany unanimously that Section 173 StGB is compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights . Although the punishment interferes with the plaintiff's family life , the right to respect for private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights has not been violated.

    Legal situation in Switzerland

    In Switzerland, after 213 Art. Of the Penal Code with imprisonment up to three years or a fine imposed on anyone who with a blood relative in a straight line or a fully or halbbürtigen siblings to sexual intercourse takes place. Underage children go unpunished “if they have been seduced”.

    The Federal Council proposed in 2010 as part of an adjustment to the penalties abolition of the offense of incest before, since the few convictions (three to four per year) concern cases in which other sexual offenses, such as sexual acts were being committed with children. After completion of the consultation procedure ( consultation ) , however, the Federal Council waived the abolition of the offense in 2018 and wrote: «While a minority of those taking part in the consultation welcomed the repeal, a majority opposed it for moral and eugenic reasons as well as to protect against sexual abuse of children from. It was also argued that repeal would send the wrong signal. "

    Legal situation in Austria

    In Austria, criminal liability is independent of the relationship under civil law , only the biological counts. This must be checked ex officio in court proceedings . Only cohabitation is also punishable. In Austria, in Section 211 of the Criminal Code , the offense described as " blood shame " is punished in descending order with up to three years imprisonment, in ascending line up to one year. Sex between siblings is punished with imprisonment of up to six months. No punishment will be given to anyone who was younger than 19 years of age at the time of the offense and who was seduced into the act.

    Legal situation in Liechtenstein

    At the time the new Criminal Code came into force in 1988, Liechtenstein also adopted the wording of the Austrian provision under Section 211. The change in age at seduction from 18 to 19, which was decided in Austria in 1988 and came into force in 1989, was not implemented; it remained at 18 years.

    On February 1, 2001, however, LGBl. 2001 No. 16 , a decisive extension came into force. As with some other offenses, inbreeding after coitus (as vaginal intercourse ) the wording “or a sexual act that can be equated with coitus” was inserted. In a decision by the Princely Supreme Court in another case from 2011, it can be seen in part how the term is interpreted. The decisive factor is "whether the genital organ of at least one of the people involved is involved in a similarly intense manner as in coitus". As in Germany and Austria, it is definitely more than fleeting penetration with fingers or objects into the vagina as well as penetration with the penis into the mouth and anus. Oral stimulation of female sexual organs (sometimes with penetration of the tongue) is also explicitly mentioned in the judgment. Penetration with fingers or objects into the anus has not been clarified. In Germany (2005) this is not an “act similar to intercourse”, in Austria (2010) it is controversial because the anus is not a genital part but is close to the genital region. It is also unclear how mutual masturbation is rated as “similarly intensely involved”. This means that - unique in the German-speaking world - non-vaginal intercourse between different-sex relatives and same-sex intercourse is penalized as incest.

    Incest in music and literature

    In Richard Wagner's opera Die Walküre, the twins Siegmund and Sieglinde fall in love with one another. In the union of the siblings (quote: "So bloom then, Wälsungen blood") the hero Siegfried is conceived.

    In addition to the incest that appear in the creation myths of many peoples, literary history knows a variety of usually dramatic narratives that deal with the subject of incest. The Oedipus saga is classic , in which an abandoned son, without knowing it, marries his mother and fathered four children with her. The myths of Byblis (whose passionate love for her brother Kaunos drives her to death and him abroad) and Myrrha (who falls in love with her father and seduces him as a result of divine anger ) also come from ancient Greece . Incest also appears in the legends of King Arthur . Arthur and his half-sister Morgana are said to have fathered their son Mordred . The fairy tale " Allerleirauh " by the Brothers Grimm is about an incestuous desire of a father.

    In Christian Fürchtegott Gellert's novel Life of the Swedish Countess von G *** , a pair of siblings unwittingly enter into an incest. The moral dilemma that arises after the relatives become known is resolved by the fact that the brother is murdered by a jealous rival while the sister takes her own life.

    In romantic literature, incest appears in part as the triggering moment in a tragic story. In ETA Hoffmann's The Elixirs of the Devil , the reader learns towards the end through the genealogy of the protagonists that a case of incest was the trigger for the erupting madness of the main character and their doppelganger, who appear to be connected in a telepathic manner in their tangled game. The extinction of the incestuous family appears to be the goal of those magical or insane states.

    In The Chosen One by Thomas Mann , too, there is the duality of special tragedy combined with a certain chosenness. Here the protagonist, who comes from a medieval story, Gregorius Hartmann von Aue , is elevated to pope after long years of suffering and penance. In Mann's novella Wälsungenblut , the subject of sibling incest is also central, in Joseph and his brothers it appears marginally (with Potiphar's parents).

    In One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez , the development of the Buendía family is characterized, which begins with incest (marriage of the cousin to the cousin) and ends with incest (creation of a deformity between aunt and nephew). Furthermore, the whole story is pervaded with incestuous motifs of the sexual relationship between close relatives.

    In the key scene of Arundhati Roy's novel The God of Little Things , incest occurs between a pair of twins in order to re-establish a mystical bond that was lost through years of separation between brother and sister.

    In Ian McEwan's The Cement Garden , the underage Jack and his sister Julie take over their roles after the deaths of both parents, which ultimately leads to the incest of the two siblings.

    A modern version is also Max Frisch's Homo faber , in which the (tragically ending) story of an incestuous entanglement of father and daughter is told. With the same author in Andorra, the teacher's son, pretended to be the rescued Jewish child, wants to marry his foster sister and in reality half-sister, which initially leads to the revelation of his true identity; but he is not willing to be an Andorran, because the Andorrans insulted him as an alleged Jew and anti-Semitic .

    A more longed-for than actual incest love between brother and sister is portrayed in the novel Partygirl (2003) by Marlene Streeruwitz , the novel clearly referring to the story The Downfall of the House of Usher by the American author Edgar Allan Poe .

    A very bizarre love between brother and sister is described in the novel The Hotel New Hampshire (published 1981) by John Irving .

    In Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex , the sibling incest between Desdemona and Eleutherios Stephanides and the resulting hermaphroditism of their grandchildren are both the mainspring for the plot and the starting point for the considerations on the subject of "sex" versus "gender", which are repeated in the text. Interesting is the plot of war and displacement to another continent, which to a certain extent frees the Stephanides from guilt for incest and its consequences and seeks the motivation for lifelong sibling marriage rather in the circumstances that need to be bowed to.

    In Josefine Mutzenbacher . The story of a Viennese whore. As told by herself , fraternal incest is presented as a common practice of a Viennese lower class in the 19th century. For families living and sleeping together in a very confined space, sexuality inevitably had a familiar character, so that the siblings, often enlightened through parental intercourse, discovered and lived out sexuality together. The authorship is not clear; one can hardly say to what extent the representations reflect an actually widespread practice or fantasies of the author.

    The music title Geschwisterliebe by the Berlin punk rock band Die Ärzte is also about incest. The plot of the song published in 1986 describes u. a. sexual intercourse between siblings. The song deals with the protagonist's sexual relationship with his 14-year-old sister. The parents went out and the siblings are at home alone. After the anticipation of fraternal intercourse is expressed in two of the three stanzas, the sexual act is described in the third stanza. At the beginning of 1987, the song (and with it the album belonging to it ) was indexed by the Federal Testing Office for writings harmful to young people on the grounds that the “incestuous relationship” indicated in the song was “glorified and propagated”.

    Incestuous motifs can be found in the following works:

    Movie and TV

    See also

    • Marriage ban (marriage ban)
    • Parallel cousin marriage (two parents of the bride and groom are brothers or sisters)
    • Cross-cousin marriage (two parents of the bride and groom are brother and sister)


    Web links

    Wiktionary: incest  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Wiktionary: Incest  - Explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
    Commons : Incest  - collection of images

    Individual evidence

    1. Brent D. Shaw: Explaining Incest: Brother-Sister Marriage in Graeco-Roman Egypt. In: Man. New Series, Volume 27, Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland, London 1992, pp. 267-299 (English).
    2. ^ Keith Hopkins: Brother-Sister Marriage in Roman Egypt. In: Comparative Studies in Society and History. Volume 22, Issue 3, Society for Comparative Studies in Society and History, London New York July 1980, pp. 303-354 (English; doi: 10.1017 / S0010417500009385 ).
      See: Sofie Remijsen, Willy Clarysse: Incest or Adoption? Brother-Sister Marriage in Roman Egypt Revisited. (PDF; 86 kB; 8 pages) In: JRS 98 (2008), pp. 53-61. Leuwen 2008 (accessed July 8, 2013).
    3. ^ Rykle Borger : Akkadian legal books. The Hammurabi Codex. In: Texts from the environment of the Old Testament . Law books, Volume I, Random House, Munich 1982, § 154, p. 61, §§ 157, 158, p. 62.
    4. Nikolaus Sidler: On the universality of the incest taboo. A critical examination of the thesis and the objections. In: Sociological contemporary issues. New series, Volume 36, Enke, Stuttgart 1971, ISBN 978-3-432-01701-3 , p. 96.
    5. Otto Günther von Wesendonk : The world view of the Iranians . Ernst Reinhardt, Munich 1933, pp. 108, 151, 239, 255.
    6. Rudolf Kassel, Colin Austin (ed.): Poetae Comici Graeci (PCG), Fr. 221, Walter de Gruyter, 1983 ff.
    7. ^ Gaius : Institutiones , I 59–64; Info: Legal textbook for beginners, mid-2nd century AD
    8. ^ Gaius Suetonius Tranquillus : De vita Caesarum: Claudius , 26.3; Info: emperor biographies, 120 AD
    9. ^ Emperor Theodosius II., Emperor Valentinian III .: Codex Theodosianus , 3.12.1 ( Latin online version ( Memento of November 20, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) on;
      Info: Late antique collection of laws, 438 AD
    10. repeats again in the vulgar law , post-Theodosian revision of the institutiones , the Epitome Gai .
    11. Ulpian : regulae , 5.6 [without further details].
    12. ^ Marcus Tullius Cicero : De legibus , 2.22 ( Latin online version in: ); Info: Philosophical work, 51 BC Chr.
    13. Marcus Fabius Quintilianus : Institutio oratoria , 7.8.3 ( Latin online version in: ; English translation in: ); Info: instruction in rhetoric, around 90 AD
    14. Publius Cornelius Tacitus : Annales , 6.19 ( Latin online version in: ); Info: History, 120 AD
    15. Constanze Ebner: Incestus. In: The New Pauly (DNP). Volume 5, Metzler, Stuttgart 1998, ISBN 3-476-01475-4 , Col. 963 f.
    16. Emperor Theodosius II., Emperor Valentinian III .: Codex Theodosianus , 3.12.3 ( Latin online version ( Memento of November 20, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) on
    17. ^ Emperor Justinian: Corpus iuris civilis , Leges Novellae 12.3, 89.15;
      Info: Law, from 534 AD
    18. Cf. Richard Reifenscheid: The Habsburgs in Life Pictures. From Rudolf I. to Karl I. Graz a. a. 1982, p. 264 f. ISBN 3-222-11431-5 .
    19. a b c d Debra Lieberman, John Tooby, Leda Cosmides: Does morality have a biological basis? An empirical test of the factors governing moral sentiments relating to incest. ( Memento of November 8, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 170 kB) In: Proceedings of the Royal Society. Volume 270. London 2003, pp. 819-826 (English, doi: 10.1098 / rspb.2002.2290 ).
    20. Claude Lévi-Strauss : The elementary structures of kinship. Paris 1948; quoted from: Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 60.
    21. Claude Lévi-Strauss: The elementary structures of kinship. Paris 1948; quoted from: Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 61.
    22. Cf. Claude Lévi-Strauss: The elementary structures of kinship. Paris 1948; quoted from: Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 64.
    23. Claude Lévi-Strauss: The elementary structures of kinship. Paris 1948; quoted from: Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 653.
    24. Claude Lévi-Strauss: The elementary structures of kinship. Paris 1948; quoted from: Frankfurt am Main 1981, p. 648.
    25. Jörg Klein: Incest: Cultural Prohibition and Natural Shyness. (Studies on Social Science) VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden 1991, p. 135
    26. a b Alan H. Bittles: Global Prevalence of consanguinity. In: Australia 2015, accessed July 9, 2020;
      Ibid: Summary .
    27. The Koran - Fourth Surah: The women in the Gutenberg-DE project See also: Rudi Paret : Koran Surah 4, The Women. ( Memento from February 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) In: German Koran translation, [no location, probably 1966], accessed on February 19, 2020; Info: Rudi Paret (1901–1983) was a German philologist and Islamic scholar; The translation of the Koran into German, which is authoritative in scientific circles, comes from him.

    28. ^ Henry Samuel: France makes incest a crime. In: . Telegraph Media Group, London January 28, 2010 (accessed July 8, 2013).
    29. ^ Rolf Cantzen: It stays in the family - On the history of incest. (RTF; 44 kB; 11 pages) SWR2 Wissen-Manuskriptdienst, Südwestrundfunk (SWR), Stuttgart Baden-Baden Mainz, March 29, 2007, p. 5 (accessed on July 11, 2013).
    30. Latest news: Saudi Arabia: Compulsory HIV test for those willing to marry. ( Memento of January 15, 2009 in the Internet Archive ) In: Internet Archive (original date: July 10, 2007; archived: January 15, 2009; accessed July 9, 2013).
    31. Petra Wittig : §§ 146-152 b, 169-173, 267, 271 b-282, 348 StGB. In: Helmut Satzger , Bertram Schmitt , Gunter Widmaier (eds.): StGB - Criminal Code: Commentary , Heymanns, 2009, ISBN 978-3-452-26852-5 , Rn. 12.
    32. ^ Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law : Incest and Criminal Law 2012. November 22, 2012, p. ( PDF: 86 kB, 14 pages on ( Memento from September 24, 2015 in the Internet Archive )).
    33. Federal Statistical Office (Destatis): Law enforcement statistics for Germany up to 2012. Accessed on September 25, 2014.
    34. a b
    35. ^ Christian Marchlewitz: Sibling love. Is it punishable behavior or an unjustly sanctioned taboo? In: Forum Recht , 1 12012, p. 17.
    36. Press release: Incest ban outdated. ( Memento from April 14, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) In: Bündnis 90 / Die Grünen , Berlin April 12, 2012, accessed on February 19, 2020.
    37. Press release: Pirate Party rejects incest ban. ( Memento from April 17, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) In: Berlin April 13, 2012, accessed on February 19, 2020.
      Criticism: Michael Kubiciel: The German prohibition of incest before the barriers of the ECHR - The decision and its consequences for the criminal law debate. (PDF; 128 kB; 8 pages) In: Zeitschrift für internationale Strafrechtsdogmatik (ZIS), 2012, pp. 282-289 (accessed on July 8, 2013).
    38. Ethics Council wants to decriminalize sibling incest. In: Die Zeit Online from September 24, 2014.
    39. Ministry of Justice does not want to follow ethics advice, incest remains banned in Germany.
    40. a b Full text: BVerfG, 2 BvR 392/07 of February 26, 2008, paragraph no. (1 - 128). In: Federal Constitutional Court , decision of February 26, 2008, Az. 2 BvR 392/07 (accessed on July 8, 2013).
    41. Helmut Kerscher: Incest judgment in Strasbourg: Why the incest ban is nonsensical. In: Süddeutsche Zeitung , Munich April 13, 2012 (accessed July 8, 2013).
    42. ^ Opinion: Eugenic argumentation in the decision of the Federal Constitutional Court on the prohibition of incest. ( Memento of December 2, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 48 kB; 2 pages) Statement by the German Society for Human Genetics (GfH). In: Bonn April 29, 2008, accessed on February 19, 2020.
    43. Full text: ECHR No. 43547/08 (5th Chamber) - judgment of April 12, 2011 (Stübing v. Germany). , Az. 43547/08. In: 2011 (accessed July 8, 2013).
    44. Andreas Schmitt: ECHR on German incest criminality: Forbidden love remains forbidden. In: Wolters Kluwer Germany, Cologne April 12, 2012.
      Cf. also: Michael Kubiciel: The German prohibition of incest before the barriers of the ECHR - The decision and its consequences for the criminal law debate. (PDF; 128 kB; 8 pages) In: Zeitschrift für internationale Strafrechtsdogmatik (ZIS), 2012, pp. 282-289 (accessed on July 8, 2013).
    45. See also Joachim Renzikowski: Incest before the ECHR - The case of Patrick S. - Possibilities and limits of a human rights complaint . In: Journal studying law & Exam (JSE), 2/2013, pp 142 et seq. ( Online version : PDF, 1.6 MB, accessed July 8, 2013).
    47. Swiss Criminal Code: Art. 213 Incest StGB. In: Federal authorities of the Swiss Confederation, as of July 1, 2013 (accessed on July 8, 2013).
    48. "Dépénaliser l'inceste n'est pas une bonne idée". ( Memento of September 21, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) In: Le Temps . September 18, 2010, accessed on February 19, 2020 (French). Outline: “Professeur de droit pénal à l'Université de Genève, Robert Roth n'est pas convaincu par la proposition d'Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf de supprimer l'inceste du code pénal Justice”.
    49. Swiss Confederation: Message on the harmonization of the penalty framework and the adaptation of the ancillary criminal law to the changed sanction law. ( Memento of April 26, 2018 in the Internet Archive ) 2017, p. 26.
    50. Legal text: Liechtensteinisches Landesgesetzblatt, year 1988, No. 37. (PDF; 368 kB; 132 pages) In: June 24, 1987, Issued October 22, 1988 (accessed July 8, 2013).
    51. ^ Text of the law: Liechtensteinisches Landesgesetzblatt, 2001, No. 16. (PDF; 97 kB; 13 pages) In: Amendments dated December 13, 2000, issued February 1, 2001 (accessed July 8, 2013).
    52. ^ Criminal Code (StGB): consolidated LiStGB. (PDF; 465 kB; 184 pages) In: February 8, 2013 (accessed July 8, 2013).
    53. ^ Court decision: Princely Supreme Court: Judgment 01 KG.2008.22. In: Courts of the Principality of Liechtenstein, May 6, 2011, accessed on February 19, 2020.
    54. Hubert Hinterhofer: Criminal Law, Special Part II. 4th Edition, Facultas Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-85114-881-9 , p. 86 ( direct link to page 86 in the Google book search).
    55. ^ Christian Bertel, Klaus Schwaighofer : Austrian criminal law. Special Part II. 9th edition, Volume 2, Springer, 2010, ISBN 978-3-211-99398-9 , p. 60, explanations to § 201 (rape) on “acts to be equated with cohabitation” ( direct link to page 60 in Google Book Search).