How did society react about and approach identical twins in Europe, mainly around the 17th century?


1 Answer 1


I think it's safe to say that they were regarded not that differently than they are today. An easy example is Shakespeare's A Comedy of Errors, from the beginning of the 17th century. That play revolves around twins being mistaken for each other. The comedic part of that isn't of concern to the question, but the fact that the play treats the characters as just people, and the other characters in the play treat the characters as "normal" when their twin status is revealed in the end is very strong evidence that nothing disturbing or supernatural was seen around the mere fact that people were twins.

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    This seems like a more casual attitude than today - I have to deal with so much "oh my gosh, can you tell what your twin is thinking right now?" nonsense all the time.
    – SPavel
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 16:51
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    @Spavel: That's because this is a much more superstitious age than the early 17th Century ;) Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 17:00
  • @SPavel This is from the 19th century, but Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher hints that — Roderick and Madeline Usher are twins and "sympathies of a scarcely intelligible nature had always existed between them", a common reading of this being that they could sense each other feelings and thoughts. I guess such a belief was not invented by Poe, but one can wonder how much older and how prevalent it was, both at his time and at the time the OP asks about.
    – JMVanPelt
    Commented Feb 21, 2017 at 20:45

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