The incest taboo is one of the most widespread of all cultural taboos , both in present and in past societies. In most cases, the parents did not have the option to marry to remove that status, as incestuous marriages were, and are, normally also prohibited. A common justification for prohibiting incest is avoiding inbreeding : a collection of genetic disorders suffered by the children of parents with a close genetic relationship. In some societies, such as those of Ancient Egypt , brother—sister, father—daughter, mother—son, cousin—cousin, aunt—nephew, uncle—niece, and other combinations of relations within a royal family were married as a means of perpetuating the royal lineage. However, sexual relations with a first-degree relative meaning a parent, sibling or child are almost universally forbidden.
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It is a tale of Aarne—Thompson Type The first recorded appearance of Brother and Sister is in Giambattista Basile 's Pentamerone around the 17th century. It was written down as the tale of Ninnillo and Nennella. In Russia the story was more commonly known as Sister Alionushka, Brother Ivanushka, and collected by Alexander Afanasyev in his Narodnye russkie skazki.
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Incest is found in folklore and mythology in many countries and cultures in the world. Tales involving incest, especially those between siblings, have been interpreted as representing creation myths, because at the beginning of time the only way to populate the earth would have been through incest. Such incestuous unions are often used to argue the original divinity of figures that have been diminished or euhemerized into human form. The pattern of a mother-goddess coupling with a young male deity was widespread in the entire pre-Aryan and pre-Semitic cultural zone of Orient from Southwest Asia to the Eastern Mediterranean.
Incest in the Bible refers to sexual relations between certain close kinship relationships which are prohibited by the Hebrew Bible. These prohibitions are found predominantly in Leviticus —18 and —21 , but also in Deuteronomy. Jewish views on incest are based on the biblical categories of forbidden relationships and have been subject to rabbinic interpretations in the Talmud.