Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Discuss Alexander's generals, wives, lovers, family and enemies

Moderator: pothos moderators

User avatar
Taphoi
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 931
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:32 pm
Location: Bristol, England, UK
Contact:

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by Taphoi »

agesilaos wrote:
Pliny is saying bagoas is Pesian for eunuch, there is no reference to ‘Royal’ eunuchs, the next clause is Pliny’s own gloss. He has taken the substantive part from Theophrastos II 6 vii Enquiry into Plants
What Pliny is saying is that Bagoas is Persian for those Eunuchs who rule in the sense of a king, i.e. exercise royal authority. He means that it is a name/title for Royal Eunuchs, not for eunuchs in general. That would make a nonsense of Pliny's statement indeed.

To be clear: ...uno in horto Bagou; ita vocant spadones, qui apud eos etiam regnavere. ...only in the garden of Bagoas: this is what they call eunuchs, who also exercise royal power amongst them.

etiam is not "even" but "also", because they are exercisers of royal power as well as eunuchs before they are called Bagoas and regno means to exercise royal power in general, not necessarily to be the actual ruler or king.

As for your other refs, Bagaeus is not Bagoas (presumably it is Bagaios in the Greek?) and there is nothing to say these persons were not Royal Eunuchs anyway. Bagoas the Chiliarch fought in Ochus' wars.

Best wishes,

Andrew
Last edited by Taphoi on Sun Mar 04, 2012 10:47 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by marcus »

Taphoi wrote:I did not say that Arrian said it. I said that that is who they are. We actually know who 80% of the trierarchs were from references elsewhere, so we know that they are top courtiers (I think an 80% sample is sufficient to characterise a population by any statistical standards). I list them below.
OK, fair enough, although the way you wrote your post suggested that you were suggesting that Arrian said it.

However, I'm not sure we can read into the list that they are the "top 30 courtiers", although I agree (and never disagreed) that some of them were 'top courtiers'. I think that to say that 80% of them are "top courtiers" is stretching it quite far, but at the moment I don't have time to go through the list and argue them with you.
Your assumption that they paid for their trierarchies is a readover from Athenian practice, for which there is no evidence in this instance. Alexander obviously had no need of such financial contributions, so it is more likely that these trierarchies were honorific in nature (as Brunt, the Loeb translator, writes). If they were awarded by Alexander honorifically, then it follows that they are all prominent and important courtiers, because we can see that many of them are the most prominent individuals in the expedition (Hephaistion, Craterus, all eight Bodyguards, the Admiral of the Fleet...) If Alexander had auctioned the trierarchies to the highest bidders, then indeed we should expect to see a larger proportion of unknown individuals in the list, who merely happened to be wealthy.
Whatever, although I don't have the time to argue (or not) at the moment.

However, you say "all eight bodyguards", but at the time the Indus fleet set off, Peucestas had not been inducted, so you mean "seven", I assume? In fact, Peucestas has no previous identification as a "top courtier" before being made a bodyguard in Carmania, so I suspect that I shall find much to argue with over your 80% figure when I have time to go through it. Then again, who says the bodyguards are "top courtiers"? Which of the ancient writers identifies them as such?
I am sure that you realise that inventing another eunuch called Bagoas in Alexander's expedition in India and supposing that Alexander gave him a trierarchy in preference to his lover makes no sense.
Who are you saying is "inventing" another eunuch? And who are you saying is "supposing that Alexander gave him a trierarchy in preference to his lover". I need to be quite sure, so that I can provide the appropriate response.

I shall ignore the patronising tone of that last paragraph, as well.
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by amyntoros »

marcus wrote:
Taphoi wrote: (My italics)
Your assumption that they paid for their trierarchies is a readover from Athenian practice, for which there is no evidence in this instance. Alexander obviously had no need of such financial contributions, so it is more likely that these trierarchies were honorific in nature (as Brunt, the Loeb translator, writes). If they were awarded by Alexander honorifically, then it follows that they are all prominent and important courtiers, because we can see that many of them are the most prominent individuals in the expedition (Hephaistion, Craterus, all eight Bodyguards, the Admiral of the Fleet...) If Alexander had auctioned the trierarchies to the highest bidders, then indeed we should expect to see a larger proportion of unknown individuals in the list, who merely happened to be wealthy.
Whatever, although I don't have the time to argue (or not) at the moment.
Second time writing this because Pothos sent me to a "page not found" when I tried to preview my reply. Arrrrrgh! Anyway, I've only time left to partially respond by saying that, according to Plutarch's Life of Eumenes, Alexander was indeed in need of money at the time the fleet was launched.
Afterwards, when Nearchus, with a fleet, was to be sent to the Southern Sea, Alexander borrowed money of his friends, his own treasury being exhausted, and would have had three hundred talents of Eumenes, but he sent a hundred only, pretending that it was not without great difficulty he had raised so much from his stewards. Alexander neither complained nor took the money, but gave private orders to set Eumenes's tent on fire, designing to take him in a manifest lie, when his money was carried out. But before that could be done the tent was consumed, and Alexander repented of his orders, all his papers being burnt; the gold and silver, however, which was melted down in the fire, being afterwards collected, was found to be more than one thousand talents; yet Alexander took none of it, and only wrote to the several governors and generals to send new copies of the papers that were burnt, and ordered them to be delivered to Eumenes.
From the above one could certainly argue that the friends who loaned Alexander money were those appointed as Trierarchs. :)

Best regards,
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
User avatar
Taphoi
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 931
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:32 pm
Location: Bristol, England, UK
Contact:

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by Taphoi »

amyntoros wrote:From the above one could certainly argue that the friends who loaned Alexander money were those appointed as Trierarchs. :)
Brilliant! Then we can say that the trierarchs are the Friends of Alexander (as Plutarch states it) or, to put it another way, Alexander's top courtiers. :D

Best wishes,

Andrew
User avatar
chris_taylor
Pezhetairos (foot soldier)
Posts: 107
Joined: Sun Jul 13, 2008 11:30 am
Location: UK

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by chris_taylor »

Paralus wrote:We need to look at the translation ...
Hail King Paralus!
(1) who actually exercise royal authority over them
(2) several of whom have even reigned over that country!
In the context (snipped for brevity) it's pretty clear what's meant.

You really have to be an OCPD to find a way of nitpicking this one.

On a different note. We now have three bagoaesque names here - Bagoas, Bagaeus, Bagaios. Add to that their ancient Greek & Persian versions, corrupted texts, double translations and multiple modern language scripts - I'm surprised anyone can be sure about anyone being someone specific.

I'd like to understand how scholars unpick this Babylonian jumble. Could someone point me in the direction of an article that gives an overview of the problems associated with transliteration of ancient texts?

PM is fine, thanks a million.

Chris.
All men by nature desire understanding. Aristotle.
User avatar
marcus
Somatophylax
Posts: 4764
Joined: Fri Aug 16, 2002 6:27 am
Location: Nottingham, England

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by marcus »

Taphoi wrote:
amyntoros wrote:From the above one could certainly argue that the friends who loaned Alexander money were those appointed as Trierarchs. :)
Brilliant! Then we can say that the trierarchs are the Friends of Alexander (as Plutarch states it) or, to put it another way, Alexander's top courtiers. :D

Best wishes,

Andrew
Please explain how "the Friends of Alexander" equates to "Alexander's top courtiers".

Perhaps this all has to do with interpretation of the phrase.

ATB
Marcus
Sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago
At Amazon US
At Amazon UK
User avatar
Paralus
Strategos (general)
Posts: 2846
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:13 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by Paralus »

chris_taylor wrote:
(1) who actually exercise royal authority over them
(2) several of whom have even reigned over that country!
In the context (snipped for brevity) it's pretty clear what's meant.
Yes, it is clear that the eunuchs are hardly to be thought of as exercising "royal power" over a bunch of impertinent palms.
chris_taylor wrote:You really have to be an OCPD to find a way of nitpicking this one.
That I can critically view the translation offered would indicate that one does not need to be an OCPD. Such might help though.

More pertinently, we - you, myself and others reading - should note with interest that the originally offered version has been retreated from. Having originally posted:
...and there only in the garden of Bagoas, that being what they call eunuchs, who actually exercise royal authority over them
We - you, myself and others reading - now see:
...only in the garden of Bagoas: this is what they call eunuchs, who also exercise royal power amongst them.
Now, whilst you may call it nitpicking, the words and how they are used are pertinent to the point. Just exactly what does "amongst them" refer too? Do these eunuchs exercise royal power amongst the palms or amongst the eunuchs? Pliny is plainly stating that Bagoas was "a Persian word for a eunuch" (Pierre Briant, Cyrus to Alexander p 270). Nothing here supports anything like a class of "royal" eunuch. If "amongst them" does not refer to the pams it can only refer to the eunuchs. Thus we have "this is what they call eunuchs who also exercise royal power amongst eunuchs".

Even were we to agree - and I do not - that Bagoas was a word for a "royal eunuch" - who "rule in the sense of a king, i.e. exercise royal authority" - then what, for example, are we to make of Ctesias' (§10) Bagapates who "was in command of the expedition against Egypt and its king Amyrtaeus"? Surely a "royal eunuch" clearly exercising "royal power" if ever there was such. Even if Ctesias' story is just that - a story - he certainly must have realised that all such "royal eunuchs" who "rule in the sense of a king, i.e. exercise royal authority" must be called Bagoas?

Further, what are we to make of Batis of whom Arrian (2.25.4) says:
All of so called Palaistinian-Syria had already come over to him (Alexander) except a eunuch named Batis who held power in the city of Gaza


Surely this fellow was wielding power on the authority of the King yet he too is not a Bagoas. One might think that Arrian too might have known that all such eunuchs were named Bagoas - he was clearly well read.

Plainly the fact is that Bagoas was not a name for any such "royal eunuch" and, just as plainly, Pliny is inaccurately stating that Bagoas is a Persian word for for a eunuch.
Last edited by Paralus on Mon Mar 05, 2012 5:55 am, edited 3 times in total.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

Academia.edu
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by amyntoros »

marcus wrote:
Taphoi wrote:
amyntoros wrote:From the above one could certainly argue that the friends who loaned Alexander money were those appointed as Trierarchs. :)
Brilliant! Then we can say that the trierarchs are the Friends of Alexander (as Plutarch states it) or, to put it another way, Alexander's top courtiers. :D

Best wishes,

Andrew
Please explain how "the Friends of Alexander" equates to "Alexander's top courtiers".

Perhaps this all has to do with interpretation of the phrase.

ATB
Wll, I'm a little confused myself, although I agree that it's perhaps about interpretation of the phrase. To begin though, I'll repeat what Andrew originally said:
Your assumption that they paid for their trierarchies is a readover from Athenian practice, for which there is no evidence in this instance. Alexander obviously had no need of such financial contributions, so it is more likely that these trierarchies were honorific in nature (as Brunt, the Loeb translator, writes). If they were awarded by Alexander honorifically, then it follows that they are all prominent and important courtiers ... ...
So, apparently, if they didn't pay for their trierarchies (because your assumption is a "readover from Athenian practice") then the position was more likely honorific and "it follows that they are all prominent and important courtiers". If they did pay for their trierarchies, as per the loans mentioned in Plutarch, then they are still "Alexander's top courtiers"! :) Okay, personally I would allow that anyone with a substantial amount of money to lend to Alexander likely had a high position, but I have difficulties seeing how this list reinforces the argument regarding the discussion at hand - Bagoas' and his "importance" in Alexander's life. Out of the thirty-three (I think) trierarchs there are eight of whom nothing else is known - Asclepiodorus son of Timander, Demonicus son of Athenaeus, Timanthes son of Pantiades, Nicarchides son of Simus (unlikely, according to Heckel, that he was the same Nichardides appointed Phrourarchos of Persepolis) , Pantauchus son of Nicolaus, Mylleas son of Zoilus, Maeander son of Mandrogenes, Nithaphon son of Pnytagoras (who “appears” to have joined Alexander in 333 or 331 but this is not confirmed in the sources). Add to this list Ophellas son of Seilenus, who only reappears after Alexander’s death, and Medius son of Oxynthemis of whom nothing is known earlier and who only reappears in the last days of Alexander’s life, and, as Heckel says, appears not to have had any military position. Now we have close to thirty percent of the trierarchs who don’t show up elsewhere in the history of Alexander. Were they prominent men? Very likely if prominence means wealth and they were able to fund a triereme. Were they important as far as Alexander’s life story is concerned? With the possible exception of Medius and his supposed involvement in Alexander’s death, I’d say not.

As for whether this particular Bagoas is the eunuch mentioned elsewhere, I don't think anyone can say for sure. If it is then I find his inclusion as a trierarch rather curious. If he's included because of Alexander's "Persianization" he doesn't seem like the best choice. I wonder how it would have sat with the rest of the Persians, choosing a young eunuch and believed bedfellow of Alexander as lone representative of the Persians. Yes, Andrew, :wink: I know about both the prominence and importance of several eunuchs in Persian history, but Bagoas came to Alexander as a young boy who had been the lover of Darius and there’s nothing anywhere to show that he ruled in the sense of a king, i.e. exercised royal authority, as is argued earlier in this thread regarding the name of Bagoas. His particular role was hardly a position of prominence and importance as far as the old Persian regime was concerned. So why appoint him in particular if it was about Persian inclusion? If he's there because he was the only Persian who had the money to loan Alexander, then where could that money have come from except from Alexander himself? And how would that much prior generosity on Alexander's part have sat with the army - and the rest of his friends for that matter - given all their other frustrations a little earlier in the campaign? After all, they weren't too happy when Alexander gave a large amount of gold to an Indian leader, even though that gift had political motivations.

IMO, it's impossible to say, one way or the other. It's possible it’s the same Bagoas, but it can't be proven from the sources.
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
agesilaos
Strategos (general)
Posts: 2180
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 2:16 pm
Location: LONDON

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by agesilaos »

This is how Bostock renders it
these used to grow nowhere but at Babylon, and there only in the garden of Bagöus, that being the Persian for an eunuch, several of whom have even reigned over that country! John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A..
Etiam is emphatic here and serves to express a Roman horror, or contempt, that men have submitted to the rule of eunuchs. Regnare is ‘to act as a king’ it is not ‘to exercise a delegated royal authority’. The meaning is quite clear and will not change just because you would like it to.

Yes Bagaios is different from Bagoas but do you suggest that Darius had two brothers Exathres (Plut) and Oxathres (Arr, Diod)? Persian names are only ever rendered approximately. There is nothing to say these men were eunuchs either and since Herodotos says III 127
[2] He had recourse, then, to the following expedient: having summoned an assembly of the most prominent Persians, he addressed them as follows: “Persians, which of you will promise to do this for me, not with force and numbers, but by cunning? Where there is need for cunning, force has no business.
‘The most prominent Persians’ are unlikely to have been eunuchs.

That Pliny should get things wrong should not come as any great surprise he was gracious enough to recognise that he was only human
nec dubitamus multa esse quae et nos praeterierint; homines enim sumus et occupati officiis.
Nor do we doubt that many things have escaped us also; for we are but human, and beset with duties
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
User avatar
Paralus
Strategos (general)
Posts: 2846
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:13 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by Paralus »

agesilaos wrote:This is how Bostock renders it
these used to grow nowhere but at Babylon, and there only in the garden of Bagöus, that being the Persian for an eunuch, several of whom have even reigned over that country! John Bostock, M.D., F.R.S., H.T. Riley, Esq., B.A..
Etiam is emphatic here and serves to express a Roman horror, or contempt, that men have submitted to the rule of eunuchs. Regnare is ‘to act as a king’ it is not ‘to exercise a delegated royal authority’. The meaning is quite clear and will not change just because you would like it to.
Indeed. Regnavere is best translated as "governed / ruled" and applies to qui ("who" - the several eunuchs). The "disgust" is that a eunuch could rule in the east (eos). It would never happen in Rome where, as a learned friend has pointed out, eunuchs were not to be used even as models for sculptors and painters. Quintilian : Institutio Oratorio V.12.21
When the masters of sculpture and painting desired to carve or paint forms of ideal beauty, they never fell into the error of taking some Bagoas or Megabyzus as models, but rightly selected the well-known Doryphorus...
So whilst in Roman times the names of famous historical eunuchs, such as Megabyzus and Bagoas (at least), could be used for eunuchs (and become synonymous with same), such cannot mean that these were used - literally in Persian - for eunuch.
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

Academia.edu
User avatar
Taphoi
Hetairos (companion)
Posts: 931
Joined: Sat Apr 15, 2006 2:32 pm
Location: Bristol, England, UK
Contact:

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by Taphoi »

Agesilaos: you cannot use Bagaios as an example of a Bagoas who is not a eunuch, because the name is actually distinctly different in spelling and pronunciation (i.e. is most likely a different name in the original Persian); your other example of Bagoas in the Mithridatic Wars is a likely eunuch, since he deposes one king and replaces him with another (why not become king himself? because he was a eunuch and so did not qualify!)

Amyntoros: yes, the trierarchs are senior courtiers whichever way you look at it. Alexander's Bagoas does act autonomously on behalf of rulers: he pleads on behalf of Nabarzanes at his first meeting with Alexander, he escorts the Sacae emissaries, he executes the Satrap Orxines. Pliny's explanation is congruent with such acts on behalf of the ruler. Bagoas probably means something like a Roman Vicarius (Britannia was run by a Vicar in the 4th century AD) or a viceroy in general. We know that many Persian Royal Eunuchs acted as governors (viceroys) of Persian cities and provinces: Batis in Gaza, Hermias in Atarneus...

etiam means "also" or "besides" in the Pliny ref (see below) - otherwise Pliny thinks all eunuchs were called Bagoas, which is gibberish, as Agesilaos has cogently pointed out. As I have said, we know that Persian Royal Eunuchs acted as viceroys.

regno is defined as "to exercise royal authority" or even just "to be a master" as can be seen below.
etiamregno.jpg
etiamregno.jpg (97.6 KiB) Viewed 8735 times
Best wishes,
Andrew
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by amyntoros »

Taphoi wrote: Amyntoros: yes, the trierarchs are senior courtiers whichever way you look at it. Alexander's Bagoas does act autonomously on behalf of rulers: he pleads on behalf of Nabarzanes at his first meeting with Alexander, he escorts the Sacae emissaries, he executes the Satrap Orxines. Pliny's explanation is congruent with such acts on behalf of the ruler. Bagoas probably means something like a Roman Vicarius (Britannia was run by a Vicar in the 4th century AD) or a viceroy in general. We know that many Persian Royal Eunuchs acted as governors (viceroys) of Persian cities and provinces: Batis in Gaza, Hermias in Atarneus...

Best wishes,
Andrew

"...autonomously on behalf of rulers"? Seriously, Andrew? Pleading on behalf of Nabarzanes is just that, pleading to Alexander. The escorting of the Sacae emissaries you haven't proved to anyone's satisfaction, but even if it were true it was a minor appointment, not an autonomous act. And Bagoas doesn't execute the Satrap Orxines. According to Curtius he lies and deceives, as at 10.1.28-29
[28] Meanwhile, whenever no one else was in earshot, he filled the king’s credulous ears, but concealed the reason for his rancour so that his charges would carry more weight. [29] Though not yet under suspicion, Orsines was already losing Alexander’s favour. In fact, he was being tried in secret, ignorant of the unseen danger, and the unconscionable male whore did not forget his scheming even when he was submitting to the shame of the sexual act for, whenever he had roused the king’s passion for him, he would accuse Orsines on one occasion of greed, on another even of treason.
This is not autonomy, not acting on behalf of Alexander. This is the behavior of a sycophant acting on behalf of himself. And it doesn't matter in this instance how many "Persian Royal Eunuchs" acted as governors. This Bagoas did not. Just because he was a eunuch does not mean he compares with those you mention. A great many eunuchs at the Persian court did not have such power or position and as far as the information we have from the histories, neither did Bagoas.

Best regards,
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
User avatar
Paralus
Strategos (general)
Posts: 2846
Joined: Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:13 am
Location: Sydney, Australia
Contact:

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by Paralus »

Taphoi wrote: Bagoas in the Mithridatic Wars is a likely eunuch, since he deposes one king and replaces him with another (why not become king himself? because he was a eunuch and so did not qualify!)
That is, yet again, to misrepresent the situation. Your wording is designed to show this Bagoas as operating independently and thus in a position to place himself uopn the throne. Boagoas was hardly acting alone. Mithraas and Bagoas were part of a wider campaign by Mithridates to reclaim areas taken from him by Roman fiat. Mithridates had two armies engaged at the one time. One, in Bithynia under Socrates (the Bithynian king Nicomedes' brother), was to depose to depose Nicomedes; another in Cappadocia under Mithraas and Bagoas was to restore Mithridates' control. Bagoas' remit, from Mithridates, was clear: he and Mithraas were to remove and replace Ariobarzanes, the Romans' recently installed ruler of Cappadocia. Appian, Mith.2.10 (cf Livy, Periochae, 76.8 & 77.8):
Mithridates obeyed the order (of the Romans to restore Cappadocia to Ariobarzanes), but he put an army at the service of Socrates, surnamed Chrestus, the brother of Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, who overthrew the latter and usurped the government. This Nicomedes was the son of Nicomedes the son of Prusias, who had received the kingdom of Bithynia as his patrimony at the hands of the Romans. Simultaneously Mithraas and Bagoas drove out Ariobarzanes, whom the Romans had confirmed as king of Cappadocia, and installed Ariarthes in his place.

Your other tenuous claims - claims represented as fact - in the above post have been succinctly dealt with by Amyntoros.
Taphoi wrote:We know that many Persian Royal Eunuchs acted as governors (viceroys) of Persian cities and provinces: Batis in Gaza, Hermias in Atarneus...
You have, in no way, demonstrated that such a class of eunuch ever existed yet you claim it as uncontested fact.

The plain fact is that Pliny believes that Bagoas was a word used in Persian for eunuch; nothing in that "incredible farrago", as Badian describes it (The Eunuch Bagoas ,The Classical Quarterly, New Series, Vol. 8, No. 3/4, Nov., 1958, pp. 144-157), claims that Bagoas was the word/name for an alleged class of "royal eunuch" exercising royal power. On your own testimony (Bagoas is Persian for those Eunuchs who rule in the sense of a king, i.e. exercise royal authority [..]that it is a name/title for Royal Eunuchs) the above are not these speculated "royal eunuchs" as they are nowhere referred to as Bagoas - the name/title you have us believe applied to this spurious class of eunuch.

What is plainly apparent is that Bagoas was a common name for a eunuch - nothing more and nothing less. So common, in fact, that Pliny thought it may be Persian for a eunuch. In Australian slang Sheila can be used for girl / woman though this does preclude the naming of a girl by that name. Similarly the name Judas is now synonymous with traitor / betrayer.

It is not only the name Bagoas which is synonymous with eunuch. As I've shown above (Quintilian, Institutio Oratorio V.12.21), the Romans also regarded Megabyzus as synonymous with eunuch. Strabo (14.23) provides clear evidence of this synonymy in describing the eunuchs of the temple of Artemis in Ephesus: "They had eunuchs as priests, whom they called Megabyzi". It is thus just as clear that Megabyzus, too, was synonymous with eunuch.

Megabyzus is a well attested Persian name. If it "would have been perverse for any Persian nobleman to call himself by the name of a (supposed) royal eunuch" why would one of the "Behistun Seven" have been called such? Why was the son in law of Xerxes called a eunuch?

Whilst we're on the subject of names...
Taphoi wrote: Bagaeus is not Bagoas...
Megabyzus, the son in law of Xerxes, is clearly attested. Justin (III.1), repeating Ctesias' story (§33-§34 at Livius), calls him Baccabasus just as Athenaeus (609a) calls him Bagazus. Baccabasus is a transcription of Bagabuxsa - the Magabyzus of Herodotus - one of the Seven in Darius' Behistun inscription.

As such, I wouldn't be too sure in dismissing Bagaeus / Bagoas.
Taphoi wrote:etiam means "also" or "besides" in the Pliny ref (see below) - otherwise Pliny thinks all eunuchs were called Bagoas, which is gibberish, as Agesilaos has cogently pointed out. As I have said, we know that Persian Royal Eunuchs acted as viceroys.

regno is defined as "to exercise royal authority" or even just "to be a master" as can be seen below.,
That is not the only rendering. If the noun is genitive:
B. [select] In gen., to be lord, to rule, reign, govern, be supreme (syn. dominor); “in a good sense: quoniam equitum centurias tenes, in quibus regnas,” Cic. Fam. 11, 16 fin.; [b}cf.: “regnare in judiciis,” Quint. 10, 1, 112[/b]: “vivo et regno,” Hor. Ep. 1, 10, 8. — “Esp., of the gods: caelo tonantem credimus Jovem Regnare,” Hor. C. 3, 5, 2: “Saturno regnante,” Ov. F. 1, 193: “secundo Caesare regnes,” Hor. C. 1, 12, 52.— “In a bad sense (very freq.),” to lord it, tyrannize, domineer, Cic. Sull. 7, 21: “regnavit is paucos menses,” id. Lael. 12, 41: “quin se ille interfecto Milone regnaturum putaret,” id. Mil. 16, 43: “Timarchidem fugitivum omnibus oppidis per triennium scitote regnasse,” Cic. Verr. 2, 2, 54, § 136: “nec jam libertate contentos esse, nisi etiam regnent ac dominentur,” Liv. 24, 29, 7 Drak.; cf. “so with dominari,” Cic. Rep. 3, 12, 21; Flor. 3, 12, 9.
Thus you would have Quintilian say Cicero's "contemporaries spoke of his exercise of royal authority at the bar". Regnavere clearly refers to what some eunuchs did in the east (eos): governed or ruled. Thus "some also/even governed/ruled in the east/orient". Nothing suggests that a class of eunuch "exercised royal power amongst them" or ruled "amongst them".
Paralus
Ἐπὶ τοὺς πατέρας, ὦ κακαὶ κεφαλαί, τοὺς μετὰ Φιλίππου καὶ Ἀλεξάνδρου τὰ ὅλα κατειργασμένους;
Wicked men, you sin against your fathers, who conquered the whole world under Philip and Alexander.

Academia.edu
agesilaos
Strategos (general)
Posts: 2180
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2002 2:16 pm
Location: LONDON

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by agesilaos »

apud eos is not readily rendered into english but in french one would say 'chez eux' and in english somewhat clumsily 'amongst them' is a literal translation of the words but the sense is 'in their country/homeland'. eos is third person plural accusative, apud takes the accusative, it is not Eos - dawn and hence the East that would be Ean or somesuch (curse Greek loan words).

The sense is still clear, though it is the spadones (whom Pliny does think synonomous with Bagoai) who have ruled in their country (Persia or Babylon). etiam can mean many things but it is clearly OMG here.
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
User avatar
amyntoros
Somatophylax
Posts: 2188
Joined: Sat Oct 11, 2003 1:51 pm
Location: New York City

Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by amyntoros »

To interject into this discussion about Pliny. I've always openly admitted I know nothing of the ancient Greek language, nor any Latin despite the number of "teach yourself" books on my shelf (if one could learn purely by osmosis I would be an expert by now!) so I can't join in that particular discussion. I do know, however, that eunuchs proliferated outside of Persia in the Hellenistic period and beyond. They were to be found in increasing numbers in Rome (even before the import of the Cybele cult) and I believe it possible that Curtius' aversion to Bagoas may be a reflection of that. Now we all know that the Romans were fascinated by Alexander and that they had access to histories lost to us, so familiarity with the name Bagoas and the association with eunuchs alone seems logical to me. For Pliny to think "Bagoas" synonymous with "eunuch" or even "royal eunuch" makes sense given the time in which he wrote and the historical materials with which he was familiar. However, just because he thought it was so doesn’t mean that it actually was.

For centuries and centuries, the name "Judas" has been synonymous with betrayer or deceiver. It is not its original meaning, but it is obvious why we think this way – because of what is contained in the bible (and few, if any, people today would call their child Judas!). So it must have been with Pliny and the people of Rome. The only Bagoas he and everyone else in Rome knew were the names in Herodotus and the histories of Alexander. And they were eunuchs in the service of the Persian king. Pliny didn't have access to Persian information and histories which might have told of other people called Bagoas, and neither do we. Because of this I personally don't put too much weight to his statement, whatever the "real" meaning.

As an aside, there is a website on Iranian history which says that the name Bagoas "may be a shortened form of Bagadata meaning given by God in Ancient Pahlavi Language".

Best regards,
Amyntoros

Pothos Lunch Room Monitor
Post Reply