How they became eunuchs (3 photos)

9 May 2024
Category: story, 0+

Eunuchs are the guardians of the royal harem. People who enjoyed the unlimited trust of the ruler, but who paid, perhaps, the highest price for it.

Still from the TV series "The Magnificent Century"

Eunuchs are rarely remembered by the media, their achievements often remain behind the scenes of world history, and a satisfying life in a harem rarely evokes the envy of men.

But was the fate of the eunuchs so unhappy? Could such men be interested in the opposite sex? Where did eunuchs come from and how much did they cost?

"Safe" men

Eunuchs appeared along with the first civilizations. The phenomenon was widespread in Ancient India, Egypt and Mesopotamia.

At first, prisoners of war became eunuchs. From the 19th century BC. Assyrian rulers began to create palace guards from eunuchs, appoint them as governors of conquered territories, and even send them to war as generals.

The calculation was simple. Eunuchs could not leave offspring, which means they were not interested in embezzlement and rebellion in order to transfer power and property to their sons.

One of the Persian eunuchs named Bagoi, by order of Artaxerxes III, in 350 BC. conquered Egypt, and after the death of the king, he actually headed the empire, taking care of the young heir.

From that moment on, the eunuch caste was respected. These men enjoyed an advantage in building a career, often had more power and simply lived longer.

Eunuchs as a commodity

Eunuchs, as a phenomenon, existed not only in the East, but also in the West. The word “eunuch” itself is of Greek origin and is literally translated as “guarding the bed.”

During the Roman Empire, the practice of castrating people was prohibited by law and carried the death penalty for doctors who decided to perform such an operation.

However, the law did not restrict foreign doctors. Therefore, eunuchs became an important export item for barbarian countries. It must be said that such men were valued as highly as beautiful concubines and were often sent to emperors as gifts.

For comparison, in the 6th century in Byzantium, eunuch boys cost 30 gold solidi, teenagers - 50. If a person had literacy or any art, then the price increased to 100 solidi. At the same time, an ordinary adult labor slave was valued at 20 solidi.

It is curious that according to the Byzantine writer Procopius of Caesarea, the main supplier of eunuchs to Constantinople were the peoples of the Caucasus.

The role of eunuchs in world history

Eunuchs were perhaps the only people in the palace whom the kings truly trusted.

The eunuchs not only looked after the harem, but also served the emperor, kept the keys to the palace buildings, including the prison, and were among the personal guard.

Since Late Antiquity, both in the West and in the East, eunuchs were given the opportunity to occupy any government position.

In 783, the Byzantine commander-eunuch Stavraki organized a victorious campaign against the Sklavinian tribes. True, his appointment to the post of strategist caused indignation among the army and provoked the betrayal of the Armenian commander Tatsat.

The Chinese eunuch admiral Zheng He had a better fate. In the 14th century, the naval commander organized seven naval expeditions across the Pacific and Indian Oceans, winning the fame of a national hero.

There was also a mass distribution of eunuchs in the Middle Ages. In Muslim countries, eunuchs looked after the harem. In Europe, in pursuit of purity of the flesh and renunciation of carnal desires, priests became eunuchs.

At the same time, contrary to popular belief, eunuchs remained interested in women.

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