Polygamy, though generally restricted to the kind of marriage in which one man has many wives, should also include Polyandry, in. which one woman has many husbands. [Family, Marriage.] In Africa and the East polygamy, in the strictest sense, is still prevalent; and by the Koran (chapter iv.) a man is permitted to have four wives. In Old Testament times a plurality of wives seems to have been the rule. Lamech (Gen. iv. 19) had two; and the maximum was probably reached by Solomon (1 Kings xi. 3). One finds no word of reprobation as to the enormous number; his blameworthiness seems to be due to the fact that they were "strange women." Probably, as in the harems of Eastern potentates at the present day, the vast majority were wives in name only, some few favourites sharing the affection of theii lord. Christianity condemns polygamy, though in the religious upheaval of the 16th century some of the chief German reformers sanctioned it in a particular case (that of the Landgrave of Hesse).
Polygamy was distinctly advocated as a remedy for prostitution by the Rev. M. Madan, who in 1780 published Thelyphthora: or, a Treatise on Female Ruin, to spread his views. This drew from Cowper his Anti-Thelyphthora, which Canon Benham, the editor of the Globe Cowper, justly calls "a wretched production." [Mormons, Bigamy.]