Herakles and Indian Marriage Practices

Note: This may be the worst story I have ever read about Herakles

Arrian, Historia Indica, 9

“In this land, where Herakles’ daughter ruled, women come to the age of marriage when they are six years old, while the men live to be forty years at the most. There is also a story circulated about this among the Indians. They say that Herakles, who had this daughter when he was late in years, learned that his own death was near. Because he could not find any man near he considered worthy to marry his daughter, he had sex with her himself when she was seven so that he would leave a race of Indian kings descended through her. And he made this the age of marriage for those descended from her. And from that time Pandaia ruled over this whole race, which took this right from her through Herakles.

It seems to me that since Herakles did many amazing things he would have been able to make himself lover-lived so that he might have sex with his child at a more appropriate time. But if these details about the age of marriage for women there are true, then it seems that they accord in some way with the age of men who die at the oldest in their forties. For old age comes more quickly to them and death follows old age. Therefore, I guess, the peak of life blooms more rapidly, by this logic.  So, a month them, men of thirty would, I guess, be like old men; twenty-somethings would be like men in their prime, and the peak of youth would come around age 15. By this logic, the age of marriage for women would appropriately come around age 7—since Megasthenes says that in this land fruit ripens more quickly than in other places and turns rotten quickly as well.”


ἐν δὲ τῇ χώρῃ ταύτῃ, ἵνα ἐβασίλευσεν ἡ θυγάτηρ τοῦ ῾Ηρακλέος, τὰς μὲν γυναῖκας ἑπταέτεις ἐούσας ἐς ὥρην γάμου ἰέναι, τοὺς δὲ ἄνδρας τεσσαράκοντα ἔτεα τὰ πλεῖστα βιώσκεσθαι. καὶ ὑπὲρ τούτου λεγόμενον λόγον εἶναι παρὰ ᾿Ινδοῖσιν. ῾Ηρακλέα, ὀψιγόνου οἱ γενομένης τῆς παιδός, ἐπεί τε δὴ ἐγγὺς ἔμαθεν ἑαυτῷ ἐοῦσαν τὴν τελευτήν, οὐκ ἔχοντα ὅτῳ ἀνδρὶ ἐκδῷ τὴν παῖδα ἑωυτοῦ ἐπαξίῳ, αὐτὸν μιγῆναι τῇ παιδὶ ἑπταέτεϊ ἐούσῃ, ὡς γένος ἐξ οὗ τε κἀκείνης ὑπολείπεσθαι ᾿Ινδῶν βασιλέας. ποιῆσαι ὦν αὐτὴν ῾Ηρακλέα ὡραίην γάμου· καὶ ἐκ τοῦδε ἅπαν τὸ γένος τοῦτο ὅτου ἡ Πανδαίη ἐπῆρξε, ταὐτὸν τοῦτο γέρας ἔχειν παρὰ ῾Ηρακλέος. ἐμοὶ δὲ δοκεῖ, εἴπερ ὦν τὰ ἐς τοσόνδε ἄτοπα ῾Ηρακλέης οἷός τε ἦν ἐξεργάζεσθαι, κἂν αὑτὸν ἀποφῆναι μακροβιώτερον, ὡς ὡραίῃ μιγῆναι τῇ παιδί. ἀλλὰ γὰρ εἰ ταῦτα ὑπὲρ τῆς ὥρης τῶν ταύτῃ παίδων ἀτρεκέα ἐστίν, ἐς ταὐτὸν φέρειν δοκεῖ ἔμοιγε ἐς ὅ τι περ καὶ <τὰ> ὑπὲρ τῶν ἀνδρῶν τῆς ἡλικίης ὅτι τεσσαρακοντούτεες ἀποθνήσκουσιν οἱ πρεσβύτατοι αὐτῶν. οἷς γὰρ τό τε γῆρας τοσῷδε ταχύτερον

ἐπέρχεται καὶ ὁ θάνατος ὁμοῦ τῷ γήρᾳ, πάντως που καὶ ἡ ἀκμὴ πρὸς λόγον τοῦ τέλεος ταχυτέρη ἐπανθέει. ὥστε τριακοντούτεες μὲν ὠμογέροντες ἄν που εἶεν αὐτοῖσιν οἱ ἄνδρες, εἴκοσι δὲ ἔτεα γεγονότες οἱ ἔξω ἥβης νεηνίσκοι, ἡ δὲ ἀκροτάτη ἥβη ἀμφὶ τὰ πεντεκαίδεκα ἔτεα· καὶ τῇσι γυναιξὶν ὥρη τοῦ γάμου κατὰ λόγον ἂν οὕτω ἐς τὰ ἑπτὰ ἔτεα συμβαίνοι. καὶ γὰρ τοὺς καρποὺς ἐν ταύτῃ τῇ χώρῃ πεπαίνεσθαί τε ταχύτερον [μὲν] τῆς ἄλλης αὐτὸς οὗτος Μεγασθένης ἀνέγραψεν καὶ φθίνειν ταχύτερον.

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