THE SON OF DUTY
In Men Among the Ruins, Julius Evola writes:
Ancient Indo-European traditions regarded the procreation of a son as a “duty”: because of this, the firstborn was called the “son of duty,” in distinction from any subsequent children.
This involves both a distortion and an omission. The son is not a duty of the father, but rather the duty the son inherits. Furthermore, the distinction mentioned, but not specified, is not without import. Fustel de Coulanges, in describing the Aryans, quotes the entire sentence that Evola relies on:
The oldest was begotten for the accomplishment of the duty due the ancestors; the others are the fruit of love.
Hence, Evola’s criticism of those who choose family life is without merit. The ensuing children are not sons of duty; hence they are not bound to follow Evola’s path that more resembles a Gorean fantasy than that of a serious man. The idea that children are desired as the fruit of love and not the result of impulsive sexual urges is beyond Evola’s intellectual grasp. In the Aitareya Brahmana, which Evola was familiar with, the value of a son is described by Narada in no uncertain terms:
The delights of in the earth
The delights in the fire
The delights in the waters of living beings,
Greater than these is that of a father in a son
A son is a light in the highest heaven.
The gods said to men:
A sonless one cannot attain heaven,
All the beasts know this
This is the broad and auspicious path
Along which men with sons fare free from sorrow
This is how our ancient Aryan ancestors actually lived. The Aryan godsadvised a man to have sons; this is not just an aberration of the Catholic god as Evola insinuates. Yes, but not just the gods, even the beasts know as much. So in criticizing the family, Evola stoops lower than the animals.
Besides love and joy, there is a third factor: a sonless one cannot attain heaven. It is not just a question of continuing a biological line, but more important is the continuation of a spiritual tradition.
Now a man may sacrifice his family life to focus on a spiritual life or even, perhaps, a secular order (which Evola claimed existed) of unmarried men. Of course, once a man has fulfilled his “duty”, he may choose the celibate life of a sannyasi. But in Evola’s conception, these choices hardly count as a sacrifice. Now this is counter to what he writes in The Metaphysics of Sex about marriage. This is summarized by his quoting Louis Claude de Saint-Martin:
If mankind knew what marriage is, it would have at one and the same time an extraordinary desire for it and a tremendous fear of it; for by means of it man could once again be made like God or could end in total ruin.
Pace Evola, we believe Saint-Martin understood perfectly well what he wrote, but that is a topic for another time.
Perhaps it is unseemly to bring up his personal life, but it seems here we must. If the choices are between a celibate spiritual or secular order and family life, Evola himself chose neither. Instead he lived with his mother as long as she was alive. Since in Italy at the time, a son would live a home until he married, this should not be considered unusual, except that he was pushing 50. Also, in ancient Rome, even married sons remained at the father’s home until he died. But that just demonstrates the normal expectations of Roman life. Certainly, the “son of duty” would not be expected to run off and join a mannerbund of unmarried men.