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ANAHITA  January 1998

ANAHITA January 1998

Subject:

Re: Age of Menarche

From:

Ariel Loftus <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Women and Gender in the Ancient World <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 30 Jan 1998 00:14:34 -0600

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (158 lines)

Wow, I am confused - why does marriage for the procreation of children
have to mean marriage for the procreation of children the night after the
 wedding and not
procreation of children in the fullness of time?
 Some women married at 12 might not have children until 16 some might have
children at 13 -until there is more than anecdotal evidence, the inscriptions
 only tell us that the age of menarche might vary from individual to
individual.

Ariel Loftus
Assistant Professor
Department of History
Wichita State University
Wichita, KS

On Thu, 29 Jan 1998, David Meadows wrote:

> Scripsit SS inter alia:
> "I do think that the respondants are right, & that any number we get will come
> with numerical or other cultural expectations, as the South Indian celebration
> might.
>
> As for the age of menarch & marriage being co-incident, that is not reliable,
> either, as we know that in many countries the masses of poor girls are given
> to their marriage families as soon as they can work.  It is a matter of
> economics, rather than biology.  Unfortunately, girls around the world are
> giving birth before they even begin their menses.  (Not within this purview
> are the girls of five or so who are being sold into prostitution.)"
>
> Respondeo:
> There is a contradiction here ... on the one hand you suggest that the age
> will be coincident with some cultural expectation and then in the next
> breath, as it were, you seem to deny that marriage (and its attendant
> minimum age) was a cultural expectation. I think in a Roman context (which
> arguably, 4th century Alexandria would also be), the minimum age for
> marriage -- which is done "for the sake of creating children" -- *must* be
> connected with some perceived minimum age for bearing children and, given
> that menarche was connected with the ability to bear children, there must
> be a connection between menarche and the minimum age for marriage. It
> really is useless to use modern societies -- no matter how exotic they
> might seem -- to use them to judge the Romans, especially in regards to
> matters such as this. We have texts (and inscriptions) which point to an
> answer ... let's use them.
>
> Scripsit iterum:
> "This is to say, that in the absence of information which is not culturally
> weighted, my own rule of thumb has been something-like-16, unless there is
> evidence to the contrary, such as graves of younger mothers (i.e., of upper &
> middle-class girls)."
>
> But your rule of thumb is itself culturally weighted the wrong way,
> apparently based on your experience in India. Why look to other cultures
> when you have legal texts and medical texts which point towards something
> younger (i.e. evidence which *is* culturally-specific)? As for graves of
> younger mothers, here's CIL 5.7936:
>
> CLEMENTILLAE....
>     QVAE VIXIT ANN XV M V D V
> .....VERA MATER FIL PIISSIMAE
> ET MOCCIA VERA MATRI
> POSVERVNT
>
> Although framentary, the daughter Moccia Vera seems to be taking part in
> the commemoration of her mother who died at 15 years, 5 months of age ...
>
> CIL 10.155:
>
> CISATIAE POLLAE QVAE BIXIT ANN
> XXXVIII MES VIIII FIGELIVS
> ATIMETVS COIVGI CVM QVO VIXIT
> A XXVII M XI ET FIGELLIA
> PROCVLA FILIA MATRI B M
>
> The math suggests they cut it close on the minimum 12 years thing; I wonder
> how old the Figellia Procula (the daughter) is at the time of commemoration?
> The reason I ask is primarily because of a number of other inscriptions
> where a father and children commemorate a dead wife/mother: CIL 6.3577
> (father and daughter; mother is 18 at death), 6.17591 (father and son;
> mother 17), 6.2194 (father plus 2 sons; mother died at eighteen). In CIL
> 6.18703 a hubby commemorates a 19 year old wife with whom he lived for six
> years (any children aren't mentioned). Now if we assume that all these
> women died in childbirth (a reasonable possibility) and these are their
> first children (also reasonable) you get marriages at the 15-16 age range.
> It is also reasonable to assume that menarche had begun by then. But it is
> also a rather realistic possibility (given the vagaries of fertility in the
> ancient world) that they were married younger and had reached menarche
> younger as well. I could probably give more details on this sort of thing,
> but this should be sufficient to 'point in a general direction' no?
>
> dm
>
>
> Sheila Shiki y Michaels
>
> In a message dated 98-01-29 01:07:59 EST, you write:
>
> << General theory (Tanner et al) would have it that it came later, even
>  much later than it does in the western world today.
>
>  Does anyone have references that would provide more direct evidence? >>
>
> << shouldn't there be a reasonable assumption that the
> minimum age for marriage (in Roman law at least) is probably an indication
> of the minimum age of menarche at that time as well?>>
>
> <<But I think the problem is that works such as this relies on medical
> writers' statements of when it SHOULD occur, which are based on ideas
> about the division of the human life cycle into 7 year units - hence 'the
> 14th year' as the stated norm for menarche. From 'modern' work we
> would indeed expect menarche later than this. This turn suggests that the
> medical texts state the ideal, and then - perhaps - intervene with
> therapies to create that ideal when it is not found.>>
>
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