Court Eunuchs IV: Sex in the City: Stories from Byzantium – Byzantine Roman History

What can the sex lives of Byzantines tell us about court eunuchs? Find out today in these sizzling chariot-cab confessions.

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Time/place: Byzantine Empire, 324-1453 BCE

Dead Idea: Court Eunuchs

Co-hosts: Nick and Anna

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Main Sources

Agathias. “The Histories.” Translated by Walter de Grutyer, 1975.
Google Books, https://books.google.com/books?id=Wp92bUzuMoQC&q

Berger, A., Ed. & Trans. (2013). Accounts of medieval Constantinople: The Patria. Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library, 24. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Blöndel, S. (1978). The Varangians of Byzantium. Benedikz, B. S., Trans. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Browning, Robert. Justinian and Theodora. Praeger Publishers, 1971.

Evagrius Scholasticus. “Ecclesiastical History, Book Four”. Translated
by E. Walford, 1846.
http://www.tertullian.org/fathers/evagrius_4_book4.htm

Kaldellis, A. (2017). A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Norwich, John Julius. A Short History of Byzantium. Vintage Books, 1999.

Procopius. The Secret History. Translated by G.A. Williamson and Peter
Sarris. Penguin Classics, 2007.

Procopius. History of the Wars, Books I-II and VII-VIII. Translated
into English by H.B. Dewing. Harvard University Press, 1996.

Ringrose, K. (2003). The Perfect Servant: Eunuchs and the Social Construction of Gender in Byzantium. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Rosen, William. Justinian’s Flea: Plague, Empire, and the Birth of
Europe. Viking, 2007.

Rowland, M. R. (2014). “Eunuchs and Sex: Beyond Sexual Dichotomy in the Roman World.” Dissertation. University of Missouri-Colombia.

Tougher, S. (2008). The Eunuch in Byzantine History and Society. New York: Routledge.

2 thoughts on “Court Eunuchs IV: Sex in the City: Stories from Byzantium – Byzantine Roman History

  1. Okay, CLEARLY this joker has never read his Sirach, am I right? The actual verse is “Like a eunuch lusting to violate a young woman/ is the one who does right under compulsion.” It’s clear that the point of the verse is that the Bible thinks eunuchs are UNABLE to deflower virgins. So unlike the rest of us, the fact that they’re not constantly deflowering virgins is not a sign of their virtue; it’s a sign of their inability. They are COMPELLED to not constantly deflower virgins by their lack of hydraulics.

    1. That makes sense, and is consistent with what I’ve read of attitudes toward eunuchs. It was seen as holier for a non-eunuch who is able to have sex to abstain from lust than for a eunuch who cannot have sex but lusts.

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