Eunuch

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A eunuch is a man who has been castrated (removal of the testicles) or emasculated (removal of both penis and testicles), before or after puberty. Most people would not volunteer their young sons to become eunuchs, and most men would not choose to be castrated or emasculated. Therefore, most eunuchs are slaves, or others who have had no choice in the matter. The most famous eunuchs are the Unsullied.

Eunuchs in Essos

Eunuchs are far more common in Essos than Westeros. In Essos, eunuchs make popular slaves. In Yunkai, slaves are made into eunuchs by cutting only the testicles off.[1] The Yunkai'i also geld boys in order to produce castrati slaves. Yurkhaz zo Yunzak owns a group of Yunkish castrati slaves who sing songs in the ancient tongues of the Old Empire. Their voices are high and sweet and impossibly pure.[2]

The Unsullied are eunuch slave soldiers, trained from a young age in Astapor. They are fully castrated - penis and testicles removed.[1] Their manhoods are burned at the altar of the Lady of Spears.[3]

The Dothraki dosh khaleen are served by eunuchs.[4] Eunuch slaves act also as healers in a Dothraki khalasar, along with herbwomen.[5] In Vaes Dothrak, where it is forbidden to shed blood, some of the traders have eunuch servants, huge men who strangle thieves with wisps of silk.[4]

The priests of Boash, the Blind God, a deity that was once worshiped in the Valyrian Freehold and in Lorath, were eunuchs.[6]

In Bayasabhad, Kayakayanaya, and Shamyriana, once part of the Patrimony of Hyrkoon, 99 percent of boys, the sons of the Great Fathers, are gelded when they reach the age of manhood. They live out their lives as eunuchs, serving their cities as scribes, priests, scholars, servants, cooks, farmers, and craftsmen. Only the most promising males, the largest, strongest, and most comely, are permitted to mature, breed, and become Great Fathers in their turn.[7]

The Nine Eunuchs were members of the Yi Ti dynasty of the pearl-white emperors, who gave the Golden Empire of Yi Ti 130 years of peace and prosperity. As young men and princes, they lived like other men, taking wives and concubines and siring heirs, but upon each prince's ascent to the throne, he was emasculated, so that he would devote himself entirely to the empire.[8]

Varys was a young Lyseni slave[9] who was sold to a certain man in Myr, a sorcerer who cut off the boy's genitals to use them in a bloodmagic ritual.[10]

Eunuchs in Westeros

In Westeros, slavery is forbidden,[1] and castration appears to serve more as a severe punishment and deterrent. It has been used as a punishment for rape,[11] a punishment for disobeying vows of celibacy,[12] and as a means of torture.[13] In the Seven Kingdoms, poison is seen as a weapon of eunuchs and others without honor.[9] Nevertheless, a eunuch may rise to an influential and powerful position. Lord Varys became the Master of Whisperers under King Aerys II Targaryen, and remained in that position for King Robert I Baratheon.[14] In history, Ser Tyland Lannister was tortured with blinding, mutilation, and gelding,[13] but nevertheless became Hand of the King for King Aegon III Targaryen.[15]

Known eunuchs

Essos

Westeros

Rapists

Additionally, it is hinted that Theon Greyjoy may have been emasculated under torture by Ramsay Bolton.[32][33][N 2]

Quotes

A eunuch has no honor, and a spider does not enjoy the luxury of scruples, my lord.[35]

I've never been quite sure what the point of a eunuch is, if truth be told. It seems to me they're only men with the useful bits cut off.[36]

Even those who lack a man’s parts may still have a man’s heart, Your Grace.[37]

Hizdahr: Have you ever heard such singing, my love? They have the voices of gods, do they not?
Daenerys: Yes, though I wonder if they might not have preferred to have the fruits of men.[2]

Hizdahr zo Loraq and Daenerys Targaryen, discussing the Yunkish castrati

What does a eunuch know of a man's honor?[38]

Jon Connington, thinking of Varys

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Made a eunuch in Essos.
  2. The fact that Theon has his penis removed by Ramsay in "The Bear and the Maiden Fair", an episode of Game of Thrones written by George R. R. Martin, may be a confirmation of Theon's emasculation in the books. However, in the DVD commentary of the episode, Martin clarified that he actually did not write any of the scenes with Theon and Ramsay for Game of Thrones, and in the books, left the "other parts" of Theon that Ramsay removed "a little more to the imagination".[34]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 23, Daenerys II.
  2. 2.0 2.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 60, The Spurned Suitor.
  3. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 36, Daenerys VI.
  4. 4.0 4.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 46, Daenerys V.
  5. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 61, Daenerys VII.
  6. 6.0 6.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Free Cities: Lorath.
  7. 7.0 7.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Bones and Beyond.
  8. 8.0 8.1 The World of Ice & Fire, The Bones and Beyond: Yi Ti.
  9. 9.0 9.1 A Game of Thrones, Chapter 25, Eddard V.
  10. 10.0 10.1 A Clash of Kings, Chapter 44, Tyrion X.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 A Storm of Swords, Chapter 75, Samwell IV.
  12. 12.0 12.1 A Feast for Crows, Chapter 13, The Soiled Knight.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Fire & Blood, The Dying of the Dragons - Rhaenyra Overthrown.
  14. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 12, Eddard II.
  15. Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - The Hooded Hand.
  16. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 63, Daenerys V.
  17. Fire & Blood, Reign of the Dragon - The Wars of King Aegon I.
  18. 18.0 18.1 Fire & Blood, The Sons of the Dragon.
  19. The World of Ice & Fire, The Targaryen Kings: Aenys I.
  20. Fire & Blood, A Surfeit of Rulers.
  21. Fire & Blood, The Long Reign - Jaehaerys and Alysanne: Policy, Progeny, and Pain.
  22. The World of Ice & Fire, The Westerlands: House Lannister Under the Dragons.
  23. The World of Ice & Fire, The Red Kraken.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Fire & Blood, The Lysene Spring and the End of Regency.
  25. A Clash of Kings, Chapter 29, Tyrion VII.
  26. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 10, Davos II.
  27. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 46, A Ghost in Winterfell.
  28. Fire & Blood, Heirs of the Dragon - A Question of Succession.
  29. Fire & Blood, Under the Regents - War and Peace and Cattle Shows.
  30. 30.0 30.1 A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 31, Melisandre I.
  31. A Feast for Crows, Chapter 14, Brienne III.
  32. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 20, Reek II.
  33. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 37, The Prince of Winterfell.
  34. (Spoilers Extended) Unused elements in GRRM's GOT scripts revealed in commentary tracks, (reddit.com)
  35. A Game of Thrones, Chapter 58, Eddard XV.
  36. A Storm of Swords, Chapter 6, Sansa I.
  37. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 11, Daenerys II.
  38. A Dance with Dragons, Chapter 24, The Lost Lord.