Engels Evaluation: The Chronicle Of The Prehistoric Periods

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Engels’ evaluation narrates the chronicle of the prehistoric periods, illustrating the Greek,
Roman, German and other family structures. He began his analysis by categorizing the history into three different stages. The important stages in the family history took place long before written records were kept. In the era of savagery, group marriage predominated; during the time of barbarism, a form of pairing became common. The critical change occurred with civilization; modern monogamy or individual sex-love premiered due to changes in property relations, which
Engels viewed as the “greatest moral advance.”
Engels also analyzed the historical rise of the family as a property relationship–which developed together with class society. He denoted this
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father, mother and the children. Among the Romans, it did not at first even refer to the married pair and their children but only to the slaves. Famulus means domestic slave, and familia is the total number of slaves belonging to one man. The expression was according to Engels, “invented by the Romans to describe a new social organism, the head of which had under him wife and children and a number of slaves, under Roman paternal power, with the power of life and death over them all.”(Engel, p. 737)
In the earlier stages, barbarism was based on agriculture and the rearing of cattle.
Civilization was based upon private property, introduced by commodity production. The period of savagery and barbarism constituted the period of “primitive communism”, where there were no restrictions on which men and women could have relations, living in common “long houses” with common property and children would be raised in common.
There were many different forms of family and sexual relationship. Some of these were group marriage, monogamy, promiscuous intercourse, to name a few. In terms of family structures,
Engels argues that group marriage was the earliest form of the family. As societies

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