Anyone knows when the greek/roman (or anyone else) start prohibiting polygamy and why?

  • Polygamy means that one can have many spouses, (even a woman). What you are taking about is something different.
    – apoorv020
    Nov 22, 2011 at 6:53
  • @apoorv020: read the text more closely: "too many women would rather share a man". If several women share one man, that's polygamy, and if they also don't have multiple husbands, then some men must go without wives.
    – mgkrebbs
    Nov 22, 2011 at 7:13
  • @mgkrebbs:No, if only men have multiple spouses, then it's polygyny.
    – apoorv020
    Nov 22, 2011 at 8:25
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    Please consider formulating this as a question rather than an answer. Particularly if everything you can come up with are wild speculations that attract downvotes to an otherwise valid question. Nov 22, 2011 at 19:29
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    @JimThio: This is a history site, not psychology. You have to ask about historical events or something that can be explained with historical events. And any relation between monogamy and democracy is such a ridiculous assumption that Rory's is the only valid answer to it. You should be the one to provide evidence supporting this assumption, not the people who answer you. Next time you will ask whether Ancient Greeks went into space and require evidence that they didn't. Nov 23, 2011 at 7:33

2 Answers 2


There are many many facts that would account for monogamy :

  1. Gender ratio - The gender ratio at birth is about 1:1. If there is no large scale deaths in males, then polygamy would essentially leave many men wifeless.
  2. Religion - Christianity bans adultery and polygamy. Given the dominance of Christian Europe in the last few centuries, this has probably had a lot of influence.
  3. Human Nature - Nobody wants to share. polygamy can probably lead to uncomfortable living conditions.
  4. Economics - Supporting a wife and children is expensive. Supporting more than one wife and extra children would probably be out of the reach of majority of population in ancient times.

I might also point out that monogamy was already an established custom in the monarchies that have since become democracies, so the correlation (if any), should only be made between monogamy and monarchies. Since most of the known world was monarchial in nature, this essentially means that we don't have enough data for a correlation.

  • You said no body wants to share? Are there any historical evidence? I mean I'd rather share a porn star than be the only one for ugly women.
    – user4951
    Nov 22, 2011 at 7:36
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    I don't believe "Christianity" does ban polygamy. It was a common practice throughout the Old and New Testaments, and was never forbidden by scripture. That's not to say certain modern Christian sects don't ban it, though...
    – Flimzy
    Nov 26, 2011 at 1:37
  • Flimzy you are correct. Judaism doesn't prohibit polygamy. Something else did. I pick this as the answer because there is no better answer.
    – user4951
    Dec 12, 2011 at 6:17
  • I must dispute this answer. I recently had a conversation with the two wives of a neighbour. Points #3 (Human Nature) and #4 (Economics) are in contradiction to their experience as they shared with me. Though the first wife was initially jealous of the second wife, but they became friendly after a few years. The living conditions were never uncomfortable as both women (and children) lived in separate houses on the same land. Additionally, the husband is dirt-dirt-poor, so economics is not a factor.
    – dotancohen
    May 8, 2014 at 7:05
  • @Flimzy - The traditional wag counter to that argument is Matthew 6:24 - "A man cannot serve two masters." :-)
    – T.E.D.
    Mar 30, 2017 at 14:49

Unlikely. Polygamy was banned in Europe centuries before democracy, and it would have been banned for religious reasons rather than men voting to ban it to increase their chances of marriage.

  • Any sources? Yes polygamy goes both way males and females.
    – user4951
    Nov 23, 2011 at 5:20
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    Religion is never the true reason. Religion is always a mask of something those in power already want.
    – user4951
    Nov 25, 2011 at 10:48
  • Polygamy was banned in Athen long before christianity. Recent democracy is recent. I am thinking about athen democracy. That's predate christ.
    – user4951
    Jul 15, 2015 at 7:32

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