Niobean Principle

Excessively proud of her seven sons and seven daughters Niobe took it upon herself to mock Leto, who could call only two children her own: Apollo and Artemis. To avenge their mother these two then killed all Niobe’s children. As the women’s rights activist Hedwig >Dohm is surely right to point out, almost every mother has something “Niobean” about her, inasmuch as “Fate” tends to take all mothers’ children away from them: “Almost all mothers have a ‘Niobean’ trait within them. Even if no Apollo comes to murder their children, they lose them all the same, one way or another: a son finds a way to ruin his own life or a daughter stays trapped in an unhappy marriage. Others may settle down far away from the family home. Or another, perhaps especially well-beloved one may die. And even if only happy destinies fall to her children’s lot, they grow more and more distant from her just the same, because ascending and declining lines never meet. The daughter who becomes a mother stops being a daughter. And now the young mother’s hopes for the future are focussed on her children, while her mother, become a grandmother, recognizes that the children in fact promise nothing.” (Dohm, Die Mütter) Clearly, antinatalism is a proven remedy against this self-woven thread of suffering which, rising out of the past, stretches far into the future.

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