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"When Tarquin the Proud caused one of his nephews to be murdered in the hope of securing the succession for his own son, the other nephew feigned insanity; and it was upon him, in accordance with matriarchal law, that the duty of blood-revenge evolved, when his niece Lucretia was assaulted. As in all patriarchal society, the distinction between paternal and maternal uncles was clearly drawn, the former being called ‘patruus’, the latter ‘avunculus’, a diminutive of avus ; that is, ancestor. Thus our word ‘uncle’, a corruption of avunculus, preserves a trace of the matriarchal order of succession." --The Mothers (1927) by Robert Briffault

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
  1. maternal uncle
  2. mother's sister's husband
  3. great uncle

See also

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