Tuesday, October 23, 2012

H. G. Wells Had Darwinian View of the Trojan War

( Originally written and posted on MySpace on December 7, 2008 )

H. G. Wells studied biology at the University of London and, later, consulted with Julian Huxley in writing his The Science of Life.   His appreciation of evolution theory is evident throughout his Outline of History, but especially in the following account which he gives of the origin of the Trojan War:

    "  The Illiad makes it clear that destruction came upon Troy because the Trojans stole Greek women.  Modern writers, with modern ideas in their heads, have tried to make out that the Greeks assailed Troy in order to secure a trade-route to Colchis or some such fine-spun commercial advantage.  If so, the authors of the Illiad hid the motives of their characters very skilfully.  It would be about as reasonable to say that the Homeric Greeks went to war with the Trojans in order to be well ahead with a station on the Berlin to Bagdad railway.  The Homeric Greeks were a healthy barbaric Aryan people, with very poor ideas about trade and 'trade-routes'; they went to war with the Trojans because they were thoroughly annoyed about this stealing of women.  It is fairly clear from the Minos legend and from the evidence of the Cnossos remains, that the Cretans kidnapped or stole youths and maidens to be slaves, bull-fighters, athletes, and perhaps sacrifices.  They traded fairly with the Egyptians, but it may be they did not realize the gathering strength of the Greek barbarians; they 'traded' violently with them, and so brought sword and flame upon themselves. "

If Wells had believed the economic explanation of the origin of the Trojan War to be a credible one, Wells would have adhered to it because he was a Fabian socialist.  Unlike the Marxist socialists, however, the Fabians were always ready to give full weight to humanity's biological nature.  Wells and other Fabians recognized the impact of heredity as well as of culture, and also supported eugenics and recognized differences among the major human subspecies or races.  In this, they were totally at odds with the anti-Western Marxists who have always believed that culture determines all and that the culture is simply a superstructure built over the economic substructure.  

This theory of the origin of the Trojan War is central to Jonathan Gottschall's The Rape of Troy:  Evolution, Violence, and the World of Homer (Cambridge University Press, 2007), a pioneering work in the new field of Darwinian literary criticism.  Literary studies may well be revolutionized by the new Darwinian literary criticism, although one would expect the leftists in academic departments of English to be adamantly opposed to it.

Other researchers in Darwinian literary criticism, studying folk tales as well as the myths and legends of peoples all over the world, have concluded that the sense of human beauty, as a concept in literature and elsewhere, has a real basis in evolutionary biology.  Myths and legends of the world's peoples also indicate that romantic love is not just a product of the culture of Medieval Europe; that, it too, has an evolutionary-biological basis, is widespread throughout humanity at all times and places.  Their researches give added weight to the assertion that human values, leftists to the contrary, are not just a product of "the culture."  

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