The life of a eunuch. Its from a bygone era, but one not form a so-distant past. In Ottoman Turkey, the eunuch, both white and black enjoyed a certain status of the social scale, and those scales seemed to be weighed, balanced, and reset on a frequent basis. It seemed that the Sultan’s seemingly unlimited sexual appetite is partly sated only by denying sex altogether to some men men who serve him. The number of sex slaves a measure of the man. It’s part of the violence of pleasure.
The castration complex near at hand and projected. Eunuchs, born as individuals, are defined by their castration in the service of royalty. A Sultan’s pleasure requires other men’s pain. But the situation is not normal; there has to be some repressed anger surrounding their castration, and a symbol of the eunuch both literal and figurative and those pursuits of people, objects and institutions with real power, an a eunuch’s ability to manipulate, manipulation accompanied by a corresponding weakness.
According to Xenophon his argument was as follows :
( see link at end) … he observed that as eunuchs were not susceptible to any [family] affections, he thought that they would esteem most highly those who were in the best position to make them rich and to stand by them, if ever they were wronged, and to place them in offices of honour; and no one, he thought, could surpass him in bestowing favours of that kind. Besides, inasmuch as eunuchs are objects of contempt to the rest of mankind, for this reason, if for no other, they need a master who will be their patron ; for there is no man who would not think that he had a right to take advantage of a eunuch at every opportunity unless there were some higher power to prevent his doing so ; but there is no reason why even a eunuch should not be superior to all others in fidelity to his master….
…But he did not admit what many might very easily be inclined to suppose, that eunuchs are weaklings; and he drew this conclusion also from the case of other animals : for instance, vicious horses, when gelded, stop biting and prancing about, to be sure, but are none the less fit for service in war ; and bulls, when castrated, lose somewhat of their high spirit and unruliness but are not deprived of their strength or capacity for work. And in the same way dogs, when castrated, stop running away from their masters, but are no less useful for watching or hunting. And men, too, in the same way, become gender when deprived of this desire, but not less careful of that which is entrusted to them; they are not made any less efficient horsemen, or any less skilful lancers, or less ambitious men. On the contrary, they showed both in times of war and in hunting that they still preserved in their souls a spirit of rivalry ; and of their fidelity they gave the best proof upon the fall of their masters, for no one ever performed acts of greater fidelity in his master’s misfortunes than eunuchs do.
And if it is thought with some justice that they are inferior in bodily strength, yet on the field of batde steel makes the weak equal to the Strong. Recognizing these facts, he selected eunuchs for every post of personal service to him, from the door-keepers up. Although in a few exceptional cases the judgment of Cyrus has proved correct, yet as a general rule the power of eunuchs has brought in its trail nothing but cruelty, intrigue, corruption, and disaster.
But in spite of everything the custom lingered in the Levant, and when the Turks first began to seclude their women the Byzantines were able to supply the necessary eunuchs for a time. But soon they began to look farther afield. White eunuchs were obtainable from many of the conquered areas, but they often proved delicate, and the mortality was great. The negro was tried, and proved both cheap and successful. Thus a demand for them was created, and the slave-dealers soon taught the African chiefs that a living prisoner was much more valuable than a dead one. This is not the place to discuss the growth of the slave traffic, but a word might well be said on the locality from which these negroes were drawn and the routes by which they reached their destination. Although the supply of negroes went entirely to Muhammadan countries, it was in all probability only geographical considerations that kept them from ever reaching the other great palace which employed such enormous quantities of eunuchs — that in the Forbidden City of Pekin. The great difference between the eunuchs in Turkey and those in Pekin was that whereas in China they were all Chinese, in Turkey they were anything but Turks. As far as the Levant was concerned, Egypt, Abyssinia, and Central Africa became a happy hunting-ground, and thus as time went on the Georgian and Circassian ‘whites’ were supplemented by the Abyssinian and Sudanese ‘blacks.’ According to Muhammadan law slaves captured in war became the absolute property of the victor, and, as any title to property could be transferred, the slave-dealer, having procured his slaves from an African chief or Arab
kidnapper, could legally commit his right to any Muhammadan customer who cared to pay the price. Consequently a flourishing and
lucrative trade was soon established. The chief locality from which the negroes were obtained was in the upper reaches of the White Nile, chiefly Kordofan, Darfur, and Dongola as well as the Bagirmi district to the south-east of Lake Chad. Others came from Abyssinia, whence they proceeded to the Red Sea ports of Massawa and Suakin to begin a weary journey to the chief emporiums, such as Smyrna, Beirut, Jeddah, Mecca, Medina, and Constantinople. For the most part the White Nile negroes would be taken up the Nile to Alexandria, crammed like sardines in tiny boats, or else they would be made to cross the Sahara partly on foot and partly on camel, finally to reach the coast at Tripoli, Tunis, or Morocco. The transportation of the human merchandise was naturally a tedious and risky…
…affair, and entrepots had to be established en route. On the Nile route they were at Gondokoro and Khartoum, and at such places as Kebabo and Marzuk, in the Fezzan district, on the Sahara route. It was during the halts at these places that the castration of the negro boys took place. The operation was dangerous, and, with only the warm desert sand to use as a styptic, mortality was high, but the slave-dealer had allowed for this, and such eunuch boys as did arrive at their destination compensated for the losses by the large prices they fetched. The caravan would also contain a large number of negresses, to fmd a ready market in Cairo and Constantinople. Eunuchs, being a luxury, were often privately sold, going to the homes of the rich Pashas, if not to the Seraglio itself. The rest of the swould be taken to the slave market, which has only dis-
appeared in recent years.
…better appreciation of the physical and mental condition of eunuchs and their varieties will unquestionably lead to the greater understanding of the harem system and to its gradual decay and fall, so largely caused by the introduction and increasing influence of this unproductive, sterile, unnatural, and altogether unwholesome member of society — the eunuch.
From the earliest times a considerable interest has been shown inregard to eunuchs. This is really only natural, for even freaks of nature are sufficient to hold the interest of the curious, so much so that no travelling circus is complete without its Siamese twins, bearded lady, Tom Thumb, or some other example of the grim jokes of nature. But in the case of eunuchs everybody knows that the condition is
not natural, but is a terrible mutilation imposed by one male upon another. … Read More:http://www.archive.org/stream/haremaccountofin00penquoft/haremaccountofin00penquoft_djvu.txt