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Showing posts from February, 2018

The god Serapis in Egypt

The god Serapis was probably first introduced in Egypt by Alexander, although it was Alexander’s successor Ptolemy I (r. 323-283 BCE) who helped popularize the god there by bringing the god’s statue from Sinope (a city on the Black Sea in present-day Turkey, east of Istanbul) to Alexandria, where Greeks were beginning to settle. Ptolemy also established the Alexandrian library and the world’s first university with a medical school. (Segerberg, p. 99) The route from Sinope in the north to Alexandria in the south. Legend holds that Ptolemy told his advisor — Timotheos of Eleusis, or, "the Eumolpid" (Rose, p. 108; Cumont, p. 51) — that he dreamed of a statue with a serpent at its feet — the serpent having three heads of dog, wolf, and lion — and a corn measuring pot as a hat. His advisor identified the image as the famous statue of Serapis, and Ptolemy felt it might unify the Egyptians and Greeks in Alexandria as well as incorporating the Babylonian religion. Despite thre

Abdul Hamid II, last Ottoman Sultan

Abdul Hamid (Abdul "The Damned") left a $1.5 billion estate. He was known to be corrupt and had hidden money in multiple places. He had four legal wives and 400 other wives. He abdicated and was exiled to Salonica in 1909, was placed in house arrest in his palace in 1912, died in 1918, and, after a five-year legal battle, $50 million was given to nine of his widows and thirteen of his children. He preferred blonde, slim, tall Circassian slave girls with small feet, and was repulsed by "American and French women". An article in the Cincinnati Enquirer (April 20, 1930) said: "He was extremely generous to his Circassian beauties. If they displeased him, or age was beginning to take toll of their beauty, he did not bundle them up in a sack and dump them Into the Bosphorus." Instead, he would either give the woman to a Pasha (along with a generous sum of money) or let her live out her life in luxury in the harem. The chief eunuch was also well compensated;

Akhenaten, Pharaoh of Egypt: A eunuch?

Amenhotep, Divine Ruler of Thebes (also known as Amenophis IV), ascended the throne in 1358 BCE and ruled for 17 years. This was the 18th dynasty in Egypt's New Kingdom period. "I am not really interested in Akhenaten himself," wrote Dominic Montserrat, "but in why other people are interested in him and find his story relevant and inspirational when he has been dead for three and a half thousand years." (Montserrat, p. 2) "He has become a simulacrum, an endlessly repeated copy with no original. His immortality lies precisely in what is not there." (Montserrat, p. 184) "To the early scholars in the field Akhenaten was a disguised female or a eunuch form the south (at a time when such were still common) the perspicacious classicist Toynbee his sun-cult was a prototype of the Roman imperial Sol Invictus of the 3rd century..." (Redford, p. 4) Contrasting with the violence of his predecessors, Akhenaten's motto was Ankh em maet, Li

Perceptions of eunuchs in Claudian's 'In Eutropium'

Claudian wrote In Eutropium (Against Eutropius) to denounce the prominent eunuch by that name. Eutropius was a Roman consul in the late fourth century CE and Claudian acknowledges him as the third founder of the city after Byzas and Constantine (2.83), but that doesn't stop Claudian from making pejorative references to eunuchs as "half men" (1.171, 2.22). Jacqueline Long writes, “Any androcentric culture would find emasculation a natural invective tactic.” (Long, p. 122) Claudian depicts Eutropius as greedy, a stereotype of eunuchs that may have formed from the assumption of the displacement of lust for sex toward lust for money. A spin on the meaning of a eunuch’s childlessness — namely, that it leaves him emotionally stunted and not learning how to bond or serve others (rather than affording an opportunity for displacement of the tendency to bond and serve) — appears in Claudian’s words: “a eunuch is moved by no devotion, nor does he fear for family and children,” (1.

Elagabalus, 3rd century Roman emperor: A eunuch?

Was the Roman emperor Elagabalus castrated? His full name was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (born 204 CE, ruled 218-222 CE). He was better known as Elagabalus or by a spiritualized version of that name, Heliogabalus, helios being Greek for "sun." He was a sun-worshipper who participated in the taurobolium and possibly was castrated or infibulated (genitally pierced). His goal was to unite all Roman religions, but this was not achieved during his reign that lasted merely three years and nine months. The 12-century Michael Glycas said that the emperor asked surgeons to castrate his husband Hierocles and construct female genitalia for him, while the 12-century John Zonaras said that the emperor requested such a surgery for himself. (Lascaratos and Kostakopoulos, p. 234) Regarding his possible castration, Georges Duviquet wrote: “Il alla agiter sa tête avec les prêtres châtrés de Cybèle, se liant comme eux les parties génitales, observant toutes leurs coutumes; puis il emport

Chief Eunuch character in 'Women of All Nations' (1931)

The 1931 farce "Women of All Nations" has a Turkish harem scene with a eunuch character (the man in the turban) played by Sam Baker. Today the film can be viewed on YouTube split into five parts. Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 The scenes with the eunuch are in Part 4 and Part 5. Two minutes into Part 4, the Marines travel to "a Mediterranean port." The music and costumes appear to be Turkish. A man in a turban, proudly identifying himself as "the chief eunuch," arrives to deliver a handwritten message from his "mistress." He enters the room meowing like a cat, on instructions from his mistress who knew that her boyfriend would recognize the affectionate call and would turn around, allowing the eunuch to identify him. The actors in Women of All Nations speak in a variety of badly exaggerated accents; the eunuch character speaks in an African-American accent of the sort popular in minstrel shows, although a real Chief Eunuch would have been

Eunuchs in 'In the Land of the Lion and Sun' (1883)

In the Land of the Lion and Sun, or Modern Persia is Dr. Charles James Wills' 1883 travel memoir. The book is hundreds of pages, and the word "eunuch" appears only several times. These two excerpts are noteworthy. Page numbers are from the 1893 Ward, Lock and Bowden, Ltd. version. “I was handed over to a white eunuch, who seemed to be troubled with all the ills that flesh is heir to, and who grunted and grumbled a good deal as he led me towards the part of the house set apart for the habitation of the ladies. After passing through several yards and passages, we came to a low door with a curtain. My guide entered, and raised the curtain, previously shouting ‘Bero! Bero!’ (Be off, be off). * * * The eunuch now returned, seated himself on the ground at my side... * * * After talking to the eunuch for some minutes, in which the old fellow evidently was calling these very gushing ladies to order, they suddenly plumped down on their knees in front fo me, and compelled

There is no good reason for the US to invade Iran in 2018

The 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq was done on false pretenses (revisit this blog's "There was no good reason for the US to invade Iraq in 2003" ) and made Iraq a more dangerous place. "War was 'devastating to America' - and Iraq," Charles Davis, Al Jazeera, 6 Oct 2013 "Renewed Violence in Iraq," Douglas A. Ollivant, Council on Foreign Relations, 9 August 2012 "How the 2003 Iraq invasion devastated the country’s health service," Ahmed Aber, The Conversation, 6 July 2016 "The US Destruction of Iraq: We Should Never Forget," William Blum, Foreign Policy Journal, Feb 5, 2016 "Iraq war costs U.S. more than $2 trillion: study," Daniel Trotta, Reuters, 14 Mar 2013 History repeating itself? Lawrence Wilkerson wrote for the New York Times on Feb. 5, 2018: "Fifteen years ago this week, Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, spoke at the United Nations to sell pre-emptive war with I