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.

Herakles in India: Discovering and Hoarding Pearls

More on India from a Roman Greek:

Arrian, Historia Indica 8

“When Dionysus was leaving India because he had put everything in good order, he set up Spatembas as king of the land, one of his companions who was the most Bacchic. When he died, he left the kingdom to his son Bouduas—the first ruled the Indians for 52 years, the second for 20. His son Kraduas inherited the kingship. For the most part thereafter the rule passed from father to son. If a blood-heir was absent, the Indians selected kings according to who was best. Then Herakles—as the story goes he came to India and the Indians claim he was born from the earth. This Heracles is especially worshiped by the Sourasênians, an Indian people who have two great cities, Methora and Kleisobora. The passable river Iômanês flows through their land. Megasthenes claims that this Herakles wore a similar apparel to the Theban Herakles, as the Indian themselves claim. This Herakles had many male children born to him in India (for he took many wives, this Herakles) but he only had one daughter. This child’s name was Pandaia and the land in which she was born and over which Herakles gave her authority was named after her. From her father she received five hundred elephants, 4000 cavalry, and 132,000 infantrymen.

A rather select group of Indians tell this story about Herakles, that once he had crossed the whole earth and the sea destroying whatever was evil, he uncovered in the sea a new kind of female jewelry, the type which even today those merchants who come here buying and selling goods acquire eagerly, which Romans and Greeks who were very wealthy bought with even greater excitement, which they call the ocean pearl in the Indian tongue. Herakles, because he thought it was a great possession, gathered pearls from every sea and brought them to India to be jewelry for his own daughter.

Megasthenes also says that the mussel-shell is caught in nets, that they often find many shells together in the sea in the same place, just like bees. And that pearl-mussels have a king or queen just like bees. Whoever is lucky enough to catch the king, gathers together the rest of the swarm easily. If the king gets away, then it is not possible to catch the rest. Fishermen allow the flesh of the mussel to rot, but they use the shells for decoration. Among the Indians, the pearl is worth three times its weight in gold, which is also mined in India.”

Heracles Bahram
Bahram as Herakles, 2nd Century BCE, Iran

ἀπιόντα δὲ ἐκ τῆς ᾿Ινδῶν γῆς, ὥς οἱ ταῦτα κεκοσμέατο, καταστῆσαι βασιλέα τῆς χώρης Σπατέμβαν, τῶν ἑταίρων ἕνα τὸν βακχωδέστατον· τελευτήσαντος δὲ Σπατέμβα τὴν βασιληίην ἐκδέξασθαι Βουδύαν τὸν τούτου παῖδα. καὶ τὸν μὲν πεντήκοντα καὶ δύο ἔτεα βασιλεῦσαι ᾿Ινδῶν, τὸν πατέρα, τὸν δὲ παῖδα εἴκοσιν ἔτεα. καὶ τούτου παῖδα ἐκδέξασθαι τὴν βασιληίην Κραδεύαν, καὶ τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦδε τὸ πολὺ μὲν κατὰ γένος ἀμείβειν τὴν βασιληίην, παῖδα παρὰ πατρὸς ἐκδεχόμενον· εἰ δὲ ἐκλείποι τὸ γένος, οὕτω δὴ ἀριστίνδην καθίστασθαι ᾿Ινδοῖσι βασιλέας. ῾Ηρακλέα δέ, ὅντινα ἐς ᾿Ινδοὺς ἀφικέσθαι λόγος κατέχει, παρ’ αὐτοῖσιν ᾿Ινδοῖσι γηγενέα λέγεσθαι. τοῦτον τὸν ῾Ηρακλέα μάλιστα πρὸς Σουρασηνῶν γεραίρεσθαι, ᾿Ινδικοῦ ἔθνεος, ἵνα δύο πόληες μεγάλαι, Μέθορά τε καὶ Κλεισόβορα· καὶ ποταμὸς ᾿Ιωμάνης πλωτὸς διαρρεῖ τὴν  χώρην αὐτῶν· τὴν σκευὴν δὲ οὗτος ὁ ῾Ηρακλέης ἥντινα ἐφόρεε Μεγασθένης λέγει ὅτι ὁμοίην τῷ Θηβαίῳ ῾Ηρακλεῖ, ὡς αὐτοὶ ᾿Ινδοὶ ἀπηγέονται. καὶ τούτῳ ἄρσενας μὲν παῖδας πολλοὺς κάρτα γενέσθαι ἐν τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν γῇ—πολλῇσι γὰρ δὴ γυναιξὶν ἐς γάμον ἐλθεῖν καὶ τοῦτον τὸν ῾Ηρακλέα—, θυγατέρα δὲ μουνογενέην. οὔνομα δὲ εἶναι τῇ παιδὶ Πανδαίην, καὶ τὴν χώρην,ἵνα τε ἐγένετο καὶ ἧστινος ἐπέτρεψεν αὐτῇ ἄρχειν ῾Ηρακλέης, Πανδαίην <καλεῖσθαι> τῆς παιδὸς ἐπώνυμον. καὶ ταύτῃ ἐλέφαντας μὲν γενέσθαι ἐκ τοῦ πατρὸς ἐς πεντακοσίους, ἵππον δὲ ἐς τετρακισχιλίην, πεζῶν δὲ ἐς τὰς τρεῖς καὶ δέκα μυριάδας. καὶ τάδε μετεξέτεροι ᾿Ινδῶν περὶ ῾Ηρακλέους λέγουσιν, ἐπελθόντα αὐτὸν πᾶσαν γῆν καὶ θάλασσαν καὶ καθήραντα ὅ τι περ κακόν, καινὸν εἶδος ἐξευρεῖν ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ κόσμου γυναικηίου, ὅντινα καὶ εἰς τοῦτο ἔτι οἵ τε ἐξ ᾿Ινδῶν τῆς χώρης τὰ ἀγώγιμα παρ’ ἡμέας ἀγινέοντες σπουδῇ ὠνεόμενοι ἐκκομίζουσι, καὶ ῾Ελλήνων δὲ πάλαι καὶ ῾Ρωμαίων νῦν ὅσοι πολυκτέανοι καὶ εὐδαίμονες μέζονι ἔτι σπουδῆ ὠνέονται, τὸν μαργαρίτην δὴ τὸν θαλάσσιον οὕτω τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν γλώσσῃ καλεόμενον. τὸν γὰρ ῾Ηρακλέα, ὡς καλόν οἱ ἐφάνη τὸ φόρημα, ἐκ πάσης τῆς θαλάσσης ἐς τὴν ᾿Ινδῶν γῆν συναγινέειν τὸν μαργαρίτην δὴ τοῦτον, τῇ θυγατρὶ τῇ ἑωυτοῦ εἶναι κόσμον.

καὶ λέγει Μεγασθένης, θηρεύεσθαι τὴν κόγχην αὐτοῦ δικτύοισι, νέμεσθαι δ’ ἐν τῇ θαλάσσῃ κατὰ ταὐτὸ πολλὰς κόγχας, κατάπερ τὰς μελίσσας. καὶ εἶναι γὰρ καὶ τοῖσι μαργαρίτῃσι βασιλέα ἢ βασίλισσαν, ὡς τῇσι μελίσσῃσι. καὶ ὅστις μὲν ἐκεῖνον κατ’ ἐπιτυχίην συλλάβοι, τοῦτον δὲ εὐπετέως περιβάλλειν καὶ τὸ ἄλλο σμῆνος τῶν μαργαριτῶν· εἰ δὲ διαφύγοι σφᾶς ὁ βασιλεύς, τούτῳ δὲ οὐκέτι θηρατοὺς εἶναι τοὺς ἄλλους. τοὺς ἑλόντας δὲ περιορᾶν κατασαπῆναί σφισι τὴν σάρκα, τῷ δὲ ὀστέῳ ἐς κόσμον χρῆσθαι. καὶ εἶναι γὰρ καὶ παρ’ ᾿Ινδοῖσι τὸν μαργαρίτην τριστάσιον κατὰ τιμὴν πρὸς χρυσίον τὸ ἄπεφθον, καὶ τοῦτο ἐν τῇ ᾿Ινδῶν γῇ ὀρυσσόμενον.



(Dis)repute from Hera? Etymologies for Herakles

In a recent post I came across a different etymology for Herakles. Below are the multiple possibilities explored in the Etymologicum Magnum


“Herakles. The hero. His name does not come from “Hera’s fame [Hêras kléos] as many claim, but more likely means’ ignominy thanks to Hera’ [Hêras akleâ]. For there are so many ways he was disreputable because of Hera.  When he was small, for example, Hera sent two snakes bound to kill him. He slaughtered those snakes. Or, perhaps, the name comes from lust and fame [eran kléos], since he was well known for that on the earth too. Or perhaps he was called that from the race of Neilos in the war of the giants, after he killed a nameless fire-breathing giant for Hera, he was named Herakles.

But others claim the name Herakles developed from service [êra], which often functions as a synonym for ‘help’, and fame [kléos]. For this he was called Alkeidês; but he was named Herakles for helping many people—which is what an oracle asserts when it says

Phoibos named you with the name Herakles—
For you will have eternal fame [kléos] for helping men [lit. bringing them êra].

Or the name comes from Hera, which is the goddess’ name and fame [kléos] resulted in Hero-kles like the names Hero-dotus, Hero-philos….[there follows a discussion of vowel reflexes and accent types]

῾Ηρακλῆς: ῾Ο ἥρως· οὐ παρὰ τὸ ἐκ τῆς ῞Ηρας  τὸ κλέος ἐσχηκέναι, ὡς οἱ πολλοὶ λέγουσιν, ἀλλὰ μᾶλλον παρὰ τὸ ἀπὸ τῆς ῞Ηρας ἀκλεᾶ εἶναι· ὅσον γὰρ κατὰ τὴν ῞Ηραν, ἄδοξος ἦν· μικροῦ γὰρ αὐτοῦ ὄντος, ἐπ’ αὐτὸν ἔπεμψεν ῞Ηρα δράκοντας ὀφείλοντας ἀνελεῖν αὐτόν· οὕσπερ αὐτὸς ἐφόνευσεν. ῍Η παρὰ τὴν ἔραν καὶ τὸ κλέος, ὁ ἐν τῇ γῇ ἔνδοξος. ῍Η ὅτι Νεῖλος ἐκ γενετῆς καλούμενος, ἐν τῷ κατὰ γιγάντων πολέμῳ, ἀνώνυμον ἕνα τῶν γιγάντων πυρίπνοον ἐπερχόμενον ῞Ηρᾳ φονεύσας, ῾Ηρακλῆς ὠνομάσθη.

῎Αλλοι δὲ, παρὰ τὴν ἦρα, τὴν σημαίνουσαν τὴν μετ’ ἐπικουρίας χάριν, καὶ τὸ κλέος, γέγονεν ῾Ηρακλῆς· πρὸ τούτου γὰρ ᾿Αλκείδης ἐκαλεῖτο· ἀλλ’ ἐκ τοῦ πᾶσι βοηθεῖν ἐκλήθη ῾Ηρακλῆς, ὡς καὶ ὁ χρησμὸς δηλοῖ, λέγων,


῾Ηρακλέην δέ σε Φοῖβος ἐπώνυμον ἐξονομάζει·
ἦρα γὰρ ἀνθρώποισι φέρων κλέος ἄφθιτον ἕξεις.

῍Η ἀπὸ τοῦ ῞Ηρα, ὃ σημαίνει τὴν δαίμονα, καὶ τοῦ κλέος, γίνεται ῾Ηροκλῆς, ὡς ῾Ηρόδοτος, ῾Ηρόφιλος· …

Herakles had a chiseled chin and chest even as an infant.

Music and Murder: Aelian, Varia Historia 3.32

“Alexander, the son of Philip, was learning to play the cithara when he was a child and not yet a young man. When his music teacher told him to strike a certain chord with care, the way that cithara-playing required, Alexander asked, “And what difference does it make if I strike this one?”, as he pointed out a different chord. The teacher told him that it made little difference to one who would be king, but it made a great deal of difference to one who would learn how to play the cithara. He then began to fear that he might suffer the same fate as old Linus. Linus was teaching the young Heracles to play the cithara. When Heracles took up the instrument with no musical skill at all, Linus railed at him. Heracles felt irritated by this, so he struck Linus with the plectrum and killed him.”

᾿Αλέξανδρος ὁ Φιλίππου, παῖς ὢν οὔπω πρόσηβος, ἐμάνθανε κιθαρίζειν. τοῦ δὲ διδάσκοντος κροῦσαι κελεύσαντος χορδήν τινα σὺν μέλει καὶ ἣν ἀπῄτει τὰ κιθαρίσματα, ‘καὶ τί διοίσει’ ἔφη ‘ἐὰν ταύτην κρούσω;’ ἑτέραν δείξας. ὃ δὲ οὐδὲν ἔφη διαφέρειν τῷ μέλλοντι βασιλεύσειν ἀλλὰ τῷ ἐπὶ τέχνῃ κιθαρίσειν μέλλοντι. ἔδεισε δὲ ἄρα οὗτος τὸ τοῦ Λίνου πάθος. τὸν γὰρ ῾Ηρακλῆ ὁ Λῖνος ἔτι παῖδα ὄντα κιθαρίζειν ἐπαίδευεν· ἀμουσότερον δὲ ἁπτομένου τοῦ ὀργάνου, ἐχαλέπηνε πρὸς αὐτὸν ὁ Λῖνος. ὃ δὲ ἀγανακτήσας ὁ ῾Ηρακλῆς τῷ πλήκτρῳ τοῦ Λίνου καθίκετο καὶ ἀπέκτεινεν αὐτόν.