chapter  8
30 Pages

The Founding of the City

WithFrederick Turner

The human species exists at the cusp of a profound geographical and behavioral paradox. All epic is about the founding of a city, or a refounding that is also a founding. Like all living organisms, a human body needs a skin, a boundary between self and other that is permeable under the control of the organism. Every founding requires a sacrifice. The founding of a great city demands human sacrifice or its equivalent, the ante for the civic game. The bodies of the heroes and builders are figuratively buried under the walls, and their ghosts defend the ramparts. From the originating sacrifices that morally funded and accredited the city come the basic rituals of its citizens. The founding of the city, with its initiating gest and sacrifice, also establishes sexual and reproductive practices, and codifies kinship rules. All epics are concerned in one way or another with the creation, violation, reinstatement, or change of the laws.