Online Encyclopedia

EUNUCH (Gr. Evvoi3Xos)

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 891 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EUNUCH (Gr. Evvoi3Xos), an emasculated male. From remote antiquity among the Orientals, as also at a later period in Greece, eunuchs were employed to take charge of the women, or generally as chamberlains—whence the name Oi r? ‘')V ebvijv gXOVTES, i.e. those who have charge of the bed-chamber. Their confidential position in the harems of princes frequently enabled them to exercise an important influence over their royal masters, and even to raise themselves to stations of great trust and power (see HAREM). Hence the term eunuch came to be applied in Egypt to any court officer, whether a castratus or not. The common idea that eunuchs are necessarily deficient in courage and in intellectual vigour is amply refuted by history. We are told, for example, by Herodotus that in Persia they were especially prized for their fidelity; and they were frequently promoted to the highest offices. Narses, the famous general under Justinian, was a eunuch, as was also Hermias, governor of Atarnea in Mysia, to whose manes the great Aristotle offered sacrifices, besides celebrating the praises of his patron and friend in a poem (still extant) addressed to Virtue (see Lucian's dialogue entitled Eunuchus). The capacity of eunuchs for public affairs is strikingly illustrated by the histories of Persia, India and China; and considerable power was exercised by the eunuchs under the later Roman emperors. The hideous trade of castrating boys to be sold as eunuchs for Moslem harems has continued to modern times, the principal district whence they are taken being north-central Africa (Bagirmi, &c.). As the larger proportion of children die after the operation (generally total removal) owing to unskilful surgery, such as recover fetch at-least three or four times the ordinary price of slaves. Even more vile, as being practised by a civilized European nation, was the Italian practice of castrating boys to prevent the natural development of the voice, in order to train them as adult soprano singers, such as might formerly be heard in the Sistine chapel. Though such mutilation is a crime punishable with severity, the supply of " soprani " never failed so long as their musical powers were in demand in high quarters. Driven long ago from the Italian stage by public opinion, they remained the musical glory and moral shame of the papal choir till the accession of Pope Leo XIII., one of whose first acts was to get rid of them. Mention must here also be made of the class of voluntary eunuchs, who have emasculated themselves, or caused the operation to be performed on them, for the avoidance of sexual sin or temptation. This unnatural development of asceticism appears in early Christian ages, its votaries acting on the texts Matt. xix. 12, v. 28-30. Origen's case is the most celebrated example, and by the 3rd century there had arisen a sect of eunuchs, of whom Augustine says (De haeres. c. 37), " Valesii et seipsos castrant et hospites suos, hoc modo existimantes Deo se debere servire " (see Neander, History of Chr. Church, vol. ii. p. 462; Bingham, Antiq. Chr. Church, book iv. chap. 3.) Such practices have been always opposed by the general body of the Christian churches, but have not even now ceased. A secret sect of the kind exists in Russia, whose practice of castration is expressed in their name of Skopzi. (E. B. T.)
End of Article: EUNUCH (Gr. Evvoi3Xos)
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This was a wonderful experience for me to see this. It vindicated what I told people. This information is not available in the Ecyclopedia AFTER THE YEAR 1923 DUE TO PRESSURE OF THE VATICAN. THE RUSSIANS ARE STILL MENTIONED OF COURSE. THANK YOU VERY MUCH. A.H. van Herp 11 VERNON AVE. GOROKAN NSW 2263 AUSTRALIA 0243921611 HENKENM@TPG.COM.AU
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