IMAGES AND IDENTITIES OF EUNUCHS
DOI link for IMAGES AND IDENTITIES OF EUNUCHS
IMAGES AND IDENTITIES OF EUNUCHS book
Eunuchs tend to be subject to the comments of others, rather than the creators of their own stories. This chapter will explore the images and identities of eunuchs that are found in the later Roman and Byzantine empires. These could vary dramatically. Eunuchs could be presented as utterly treacherous as well as utterly loyal, and as sexually voracious as well as inherently pure. Issues of gender recur in the question of the identity of eunuchs, and the view that they were neither male nor female was expressed. Recently Kathryn Ringrose has proposed that a shift in the perception of eunuchs occurred in the Byzantine empire, with the emergence of a positive third gender identity for them.1 This chapter will be particularly concerned to consider this view, and will suggest that in fact the co-existence of multiple identities remained the norm. Further topics for investigation will be whether there are any instances of eunuchs creating their own identity, and the reactions of non-Byzantines to the empire’s eunuchs and how these fed into the image of Byzantium itself.