Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

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110gr010
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Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by 110gr010 »

Hi, everyone.

First i am not English speaker, so please forgive me for any of my English mistake.

I am very new about Alexander's history and this is the first time i am in this forum. As i said, i do not know a lot about Alexander, so i can not discuss about it, but i very concern about Alexander's relationship with Hephaistion and Bagoas. I search in the internet and i buy some books including "Alexander's lover" of Andrew Chugg. It is seem like that Bagoas is the most controversial figures. There some believe that the eunuch is not important to Alexander, but Andrew Chugg in his book "...Alexander's eunuch lover ranked among the most prominent and influential....", and he also said that " Arrian have attempted to write him[the eunuch] out of history because his existence poses problem for their versions of Alexander's character. After read the book and Andrew's strong demonstration about Bagoas, even though i do not like the idea that Bagoas is important to Alexander, but i have to admit that Andrew's demonstration is very strong and very near to the fact. But on the other hand, i think that maybe because i dot know much about ancient history, so i am easily to accept whatever the professional told me.
So, i came to this forum, because i want to hear opinion from a lot of people who had read the book. I want to know how many people agree with Andrwe Chugg. Or for the people who did not read the book yet, i want to know how many people think that Bagoas is important to Alexander.

Please spare me some of your time, opinion and wise knowledge.

Thank you.
T
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Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by Alexias »

110gr010 wrote: i want to know how many people think that Bagoas is important to Alexander.
Hi, I think it depends upon how influenced you are by Mary Renault's novel The Persian Boy (1972). If you haven't read it, it is narrated by Bagoas. Mary Renault has been hugely influential in modern opinions on Alexander for, in my opinion, two reasons (or rather, three reasons): firstly, many people have discovered the historial Alexander through reading her novels; secondly, she provides a convincing psychological interpretation of Alexander's character (although not entirely accurate in my view); and thirdly her novels are extremely well written and very thoroughly researched.

If you accept Mary Renault's interpretation of Alexander's character, he was 'special' and needed someone to watch over him and, effectively, look after him. Hephaestion does this in Fire From Heaven, her first Alexander novel but as Hephaestion's job takes up more of his time, he cannot manage to do this and delegates the role to Bagoas (he does this at the point where Bagoas is considering poisoning him), who at times almost behaves like a proprietorial nursemaid towards Alexander. This may be her Hephaestion's way of justifying to himself that he can no longer satisfy Alexander's emotional and sexual needs while Bagoas can. It is also her Bagoas's way of justifying his role in Alexander's life by trying to make himself indispensable to him. He does however have a bitter awakening when Hephaestion dies and he is forced to realise that care, both given and received, does not equate to love.

Prior to Mary Renault, I don't believe that Bagoas was considered very important to Alexander. This may partly be due to homophobic prejudices, partly due to the few references to him in the sources. Plutarch tells us that he was Alexander's favourite, and Curtius tells us that Alexander had a sexual relationship with him, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Alexander was in love with him.

You also need to consider how important Bagoas could have been to Alexander when there were large areas of Alexander's life which he could not share due to his status as a eunuch; his occupation as a dancer, not a soldier; his possible status as a slave; being a member of a subjugated nation; and the cultural differences between them which would have prevented Bagoas being accepted as an equal by Alexander's peers, and possibly by Alexander himself.

My own opinion is that Bagoas was light entertainment, a friend maybe, but not as important to Alexander as Hephaestion, Craterus, Ptolemy and his other friends.

It might be worth you looking at this thread http://www.pothos.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=3770
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Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by chris_taylor »

110gr010 wrote: So, i came to this forum, because i want to hear opinion from a lot of people who had read the book. I want to know how many people agree with Andrwe Chugg. Or for the people who did not read the book yet, i want to know how many people think that Bagoas is important to Alexander.
As Alexia pointed out, Mary Renault's "Persian Boy" did a lot to raise interest in him as a historical figure, so here is a link to an article that discusses the book.

http://www2.open.ac.uk/ClassicalStudies ... ougher.pdf

The article itself is unhelpful: the author doesn't understand enough about story mechanics & dramatic structure to fully grasp why "The Persian Boy" worked as a story where Oliver Stone's script failed.

But the bibliography includes references to authors from the extreme ends of the spectrum of opinions about Bagoas. It will help you make up your own mind.

HTH

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

Post by Alexias »

An interesting essay, thank you. It is many years since I read the novel, but the overwhelming impression of Bagoas I have from it is of a fussy, middle-aged woman, more Alexander's mother than his lover. Like any writer passionate about her subject, she is half in love with Alexander, and Bagoas, unconcerned with military conquest, the army and being a king, is the perfect romantic medium to allow her to concentrate on the emotional side of Alexander's life. There is therefore no need to state that Mary Renault would have prefered to be a man and thought of herself as a sexually ambivalent eunuch.

The essay also does not consider Renault's interest, and study of, psychology. I am sure she would have been aware of the Oedipal implications of having Bagoas look after Alexander's physical and medical needs with the obsession of a mother looking after a small, helpless child (for example, personally carrying the flask of oil to soften Alexander's wound through Gedrosia in case the slaves drank it). True, this is a way for Bagoas to make himself important in Alexander's life, but what does it say about her Alexander that he accepted such unconditional devotion? Bagoas is appropriating the duties that more properly belong to a wife, who might not be around when Alexander was on campaign, but as a king his household should have been taking care of these things. It would surely have brought him into conflict with Chares and Alexander's medical staff. Renault's Bagoas's preocupation with housewifely duties makes him appear distinctly bourgeois - at least as far as I remember - and not, as I think he probably was, a priviledged and spoilt young man who would have been more interested in having a good time with Alexander.
chris_taylor wrote: the author doesn't understand enough about story mechanics & dramatic structure to fully grasp why "The Persian Boy" worked as a story where Oliver Stone's script failed.
This is probably off-topic, but the essay doesn't give a literary critique of the novel. I'd be interested in your views on this.
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Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by amyntoros »

Alexias wrote: The essay also does not consider Renault's interest, and study of, psychology. I am sure she would have been aware of the Oedipal implications of having Bagoas look after Alexander's physical and medical needs with the obsession of a mother looking after a small, helpless child (for example, personally carrying the flask of oil to soften Alexander's wound through Gedrosia in case the slaves drank it). True, this is a way for Bagoas to make himself important in Alexander's life, but what does it say about her Alexander that he accepted such unconditional devotion? Bagoas is appropriating the duties that more properly belong to a wife, who might not be around when Alexander was on campaign, but as a king his household should have been taking care of these things. It would surely have brought him into conflict with Chares and Alexander's medical staff. Renault's Bagoas's preocupation with housewifely duties makes him appear distinctly bourgeois - at least as far as I remember - and not, as I think he probably was, a priviledged and spoilt young man who would have been more interested in having a good time with Alexander.
Alexias, you might be interested in this website. Although it is titled "Eunuchs, In the Old Testament", it is a very interesting paper on all ancient eunuchs. Follow the links at the bottom for the rest of the article - well worth a read, in my opinion.
Alexias wrote:
chris_taylor wrote: the author doesn't understand enough about story mechanics & dramatic structure to fully grasp why "The Persian Boy" worked as a story where Oliver Stone's script failed.
This is probably off-topic, but the essay doesn't give a literary critique of the novel. I'd be interested in your views on this.
Personally, I don't feel this is off-topic. Renault's novels have caused a great many people to try and find out more about the "real" Alexander. :)

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

Post by chris_taylor »

amyntoros wrote: Alexias, you might be interested in this website. Although it is titled "Eunuchs, In the Old Testament", it is a very interesting paper on all ancient eunuchs. Follow the links at the bottom for the rest of the article - well worth a read, in my opinion.
thanks for the pointer, I'll have a look at that.
Amyntoros wrote: Personally, I don't feel this is off-topic. Renault's novels have caused a great many people to try and find out more about the "real" Alexander. :)
Perhaps, but I was predominantly interested in the literary aspects of the book, rather than how she portrayed the personality of Alexander. So I did post my comments in a new thread in the Off-topic forum, rather than here.

But thank you for the encouragement.

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

Post by agesilaos »

Perhaps if 110gr010 could give a synopsis of Chugg's claims we could comment more; but I would agree with Alexias that Bagoas' new importance is more an artefact of Renault's literary device than anything waranted by the evidence; Arrian is mute (the trierarch identification is dubious and tells us little other than that that Bagoas was wealthy), Curtius mentions two instances of influence, the pardoning of Nabarzanes VI 5 xxiii and the condemnation of Orsines X 1 22-38, Plutarch's tale only shows how cute the soldiery found this strange yet beautiful piece of booty, just how far Curtius is adapting his source material is a matter of dispute; in Arrian Orsines was part of a Persian rebellion and not the innocent depicted by Curtius.
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Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by marcus »

agesilaos wrote:Perhaps if 110gr010 could give a synopsis of Chugg's claims we could comment more
Look at the threads on Euxenippus, Agesilaos! :D

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

Post by Taphoi »

agesilaos wrote:the trierarch identification is dubious and tells us little other than that that Bagoas was wealthy
Pliny, Natural History 13.40-41 wrote:ita fiunt undequinquaginta genera, si quis omnium persequi velit nomina, etiam barbara, vinorumque ex iis differentias. clarissimae omnium, quas regias appellavere ob honorem, quoniam regibus tantum Persidis servarentur, Babylone natae uno in horto Bagon; ita vocant spaodones, qui apud eos etiam regnavere. hortus ille numquam nisi dominantis in aula fuit.
Hence it is that we find nine and forty different kinds of palm-trees, if any one will be at the trouble of enumerating all their various barbarous names, and the different wines that are extracted from them. The most famous of all, are those which, for the sake of distinction, have received the name of “royal” palms, because they were preserved solely by the kings of Persia; these used to grow nowhere but at Babylon, and there only in the garden of Bagoas, that being what they call eunuchs, who actually exercise royal authority over them. This garden was always carefully retained within the precincts of the royal court.
Since Pliny states that Bagoas was the name for a royal eunuch among the Persians, it is not tenable that the Indus River trierarch "Bagoas the son of Pharnuches" is other than Bagoas the Eunuch. It would have been perverse for any Persian nobleman to call himself by the name of a royal eunuch. Therefore the question of Bagoas's "importance" reduces to the question of the "importance" of the Indus River trierarchs. This is obvious from who they are. They are the top thirty-odd courtiers of Alexander the Great in 326BC.

Best wishes,

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

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amyntoros wrote: Alexias, you might be interested in this website. Although it is titled "Eunuchs, In the Old Testament", it is a very interesting paper on all ancient eunuchs. Follow the links at the bottom for the rest of the article - well worth a read, in my opinion.
Thanks very much for this link, amyntoros.(Daniel in the lion's den a eunuch!?)

Didn't know this and I don't think Mary Renault did either. More painful I'd guess, but better chances of survival:
Fortunately, the more common form of castration in the ancient Near East involved only removing or injuring the testicles, which prepared a male for harem service. Robert Biggs concluded from his studies of Assyrian incantations that boys were usually made into eunuchs by crushing their testicles. Kathryn Ringrose (2007) notes that boys castrated before puberty remained beardless with a fresh complexion and with fat deposits characteristic of women. They often seemed to exhibit unusually long arms and legs and a tall, frail frame. Their voices did not ‘change,’ but remained high pitched. Their hair appeared thick and luxuriant and did not fall out as they aged; and their beauty was admired since they preserved their youthful look for longer than usual. ... all eunuchs in time suffered from premature aging, osteoporosis, and diabetes.
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Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

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Taphoi wrote:Since Pliny states that Bagoas was the name for a royal eunuch among the Persians, it is not tenable that the Indus River trierarch "Bagoas the son of Pharnuches" is other than Bagoas the Eunuch. It would have been perverse for any Persian nobleman to call himself by the name of a royal eunuch. Therefore the question of Bagoas's "importance" reduces to the question of the "importance" of the Indus River trierarchs. This is obvious from who they are. They are the top thirty-odd courtiers of Alexander the Great in 326BC.
No, Andrew. Arrian does not say "these were the top thirty-odd courtiers". He gives a list of names, some of which are barely attested elsewhere, if at all. I'm not going to dispute here that the Bagoas of the Indus fleet was "Alexander's" Bagoas, although I don't see that it *has* to be him.* The only thing that we can deduce from the list of trierarchs is that there was a Bagoas son of Pharnuces amongst them, and that therefore he was wealthy enough to enter into Alexander's PPI scheme.

(* Although I will just point out here that if Bagoas was the name for *A* royal eunuch, then it absolutely remains open to question that the trierarch is "Alexander's" Bagoas. He wasn't the only eunuch in the empire.)

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

Post by 110gr010 »

Thanh you everyone for share me your time and opinion, and wise knowledge.

i never read Marry's "The Persian Boy", but my friend told me that Bagoas in the book is just a character in a novel, so i do not concern about it. For me the problem is Bagoas in Andrew's book. I had read the link Alexias gave me (thank you very much), and i feel that Andrew has very strong points there. But i still have something that made me can not satisfy with Andrew's demonstration that Bagoas did not left behind and he had become one of " the top thirty-odd courtiers of Alexander the Great in 326BC".
1.First, if Bagoas were not only Alexander's lover, but also had become such an important person in Alexander's courtiers, i wonder why the ancient historians did not mentioned him that much, especially for Curius. Andrew told us that Arrian did write Bagoas out of his book because his existence damage his Alexander's character. Maybe this is for one reason, and i think another reason is that because Arrian think that Bagoas were not impotant that much,than just a slave whom Alexander's had an intimate relationship with, so it did not necessity to mention him. I think if Bagoas had been trained to become the Indus River trierarch Curius who is not "write Bagoas out of his book because...." , who love to write about Alexander's lover, would love to write about him more. But as i read on the websites and books, the fact that all the ancient historians never mentioned Bagoas as a solider (or trierarch) except "Bagoas the son of Pharnuches" in Arrian' Book.

2. Second, Bagoas met Alexander the first time when he 15 years old, right? And if he is the trierarch in Arrian's book, at that time he is 18, 19, or 20? I am thinking it is diffcult to believe that Alexander had to use such an young boy for such an important job while he had all the Kingdom's talent for him to use. If Bagoas, who were maybe just a slave sex for Darius and when he 12,13,14,15 years old, and never have experience as a solider, can become such an important trierarch after a sort time about 5 years stay with Alexander, so he is really a brilliant, though i really doubt this.

This is just my opinion and it not focus on any ancient source, so maybe its strange. For the professional, Mary made us believe that Bagoas were an important lover to Alexander, who take care of his daily care and had sex with him. Andrew made us believe that Bagoas not only a lover in bed, but also a brilliant trierarch for Alexander. But if i want to believe, i just can believe in the professional Jeanne, i had read her comment about "The Persian boy" somewhere, that "Alexander's interest in the eunuch had evident enough, but he not the one who enjoy Alexander's devotion as Mary mentioned, the fact that it were Hephaistion who enjoy Alexander's affection, and Alexander's interest in him (Bagoas) is nothing than because the influence of the Persian to Alexander".

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

Post by Taphoi »

marcus wrote:
Taphoi wrote:Since Pliny states that Bagoas was the name for a royal eunuch among the Persians, it is not tenable that the Indus River trierarch "Bagoas the son of Pharnuches" is other than Bagoas the Eunuch. It would have been perverse for any Persian nobleman to call himself by the name of a royal eunuch. Therefore the question of Bagoas's "importance" reduces to the question of the "importance" of the Indus River trierarchs. This is obvious from who they are. They are the top thirty-odd courtiers of Alexander the Great in 326BC.
No, Andrew. Arrian does not say "these were the top thirty-odd courtiers". He gives a list of names, some of which are barely attested elsewhere, if at all. I'm not going to dispute here that the Bagoas of the Indus fleet was "Alexander's" Bagoas, although I don't see that it *has* to be him.* The only thing that we can deduce from the list of trierarchs is that there was a Bagoas son of Pharnuces amongst them, and that therefore he was wealthy enough to enter into Alexander's PPI scheme.

(* Although I will just point out here that if Bagoas was the name for *A* royal eunuch, then it absolutely remains open to question that the trierarch is "Alexander's" Bagoas. He wasn't the only eunuch in the empire.)

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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.

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.

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.

Best wishes,

Andrew

Indus River Trierarchs:
Hephaistion son of Amyntor, Chiliarch, Commander of the Bodyguards and the Companions
Leonnatus son of Eunous, Bodyguard
Lysimachus son of Agathocles, Bodyguard
Asclepiodorus son of Timander?
Archon son of Clinias, later Satrap of Babylon
Demonicus son of Athenaeus?
Archias son of Anaxidotus, Lieutenant of Nearchus, Head of Alexander’s 1st expedition to Arabia
Ophellas son of Silenus, later Ptolemy’s general and governor of Cyrene
Timanthes son of Pantiades?
Nearchus son of Androtimus, Admiral of the Fleet
Laomedon son of Larichus, exiled by Philip II as supporter of Alexander, later Satrap of Coele-Syria
Androsthenes son of Callistratus, Lieutenant of Nearchus, Head of Alexander’s 2nd Arabian expedition
Craterus son of Alexander, General of the Army, later Viceroy of Macedon (designate)
Perdiccas son of Orontes, Bodyguard and subsequently Commander of the Companions and Chiliarch
Ptolemy son of Lagus, Bodyguard and later Pharaoh of Egypt
Aristonous son of Pisaeus, Bodyguard
Metron son of Epicharmus, Royal Page in Bactria
Nicarchides son of Simus, previously Phrourarchos of Persepolis
Attalus son of Andromenes, Battalion commander in Bactria and India, later a General of Perdiccas
Peucestas son of Alexander, later a Bodyguard
Pithon son of Crateuas, Bodyguard
Leonnatus son of Antipater?
Pantauchus son of Nicolaus, possibly later an officer of Demetrius Poliorcetes
Mylleas son of Zoilus?
Medius son of Oxythemis, “flatterer” and host of Alexander’s last supper, later admiral of Antigonus
Eumenes son of Hieronymus, Secretary and later Hipparch and Satrap
Critobulus son of Plato, Alexander’s doctor
Thoas son of Mandrodorus, officer responsible for servicing the fleet in Gedrosia
Maeander son of Mandrogenes?
Hagnon son of Cabeleus, “flatterer” and Companion of Alexander, Antigonid commander
Nicocles son of Pasicrates, Alexander’s envoy to Abisares
Nithaphon son of King Pnytagoras of Salamis, Brother of Nicocreon, defector to Alexander after Issus
Bagoas the Eunuch, Alexander’s lover, a “flatterer”, escort of the Sacae, executioner of Orxines
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Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

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Taphoi wrote:Since Pliny states that Bagoas was the name for a royal eunuch among the Persians...
Pliny "states" nothing of the sort. But, to humour you, let's proceed from the premise that there ever were "royal eunuchs" as such.

Sources far more contemporary with the Persian Empire than Pliny seem blissfully unaware that that "Bagoas was the name for a royal eunuch among the Persians". These sources name many eunuchs - all in the close entourage of the King - certainly, one might suppose, "royal eunuchs". Ctesias: Petesacs, Bagapates, Izabates, Aspadates (all inevitably described as "the most powerful one(s) next to the King"); Herodotus: Hermotimus who was valued more highly that any other eunuch by Xerxes; Xenophon: Gadatas, upon on whom Cyrus (the Elder) bestowed the title of skeptoukhoi (head of the scepter bearers). Plutarch, too, names the eunuchs in close attendance on the King (or his rival) during the batle of Cunaxa : Pariscas (the "most trusted") wept over the corpse of Cyrus; Artaxerxes' eunuch Masabates/Bagopates cut off Cyrus' head and Saribarzanes brought the King water during the battle.

It seems an egregious error that Plutarch, writing after Pliny, had no idea that every "royal eunuch" was Bagoas. But, then again, they weren't tending palms (below).

It was the persistent mistranslation of sa resi (stationed at the head of the King) as "eunuch" by the Greek writers that has caused much confusion. Bagoas (he that supposedly murdered Arses) is clearly described as sa resi by the Babylonian Dynastic Prophecy (BHLT 35) and he clearly was such as Plutarch (Alex. 39.9) indicates by claiming that Alexander gave the house of Bagoas (in Susa) to Parmenion. This, clearly, cannot be the boy Bagoas that the Chiliarch Nabarzanes later brings to Alexander for there is no way that such a youth could have such a position and property.

All this is available in Pierre Briant's Cyrus to Alexander. I might have scanned the relevant pages only for the fact that they are many and you would either totally misrepresent the views expressed therein or dismiss them as inconsistent with your preconceived construct.

But this is, really, only distraction. The real conceit of the "argument" is that Pliny actually believed that "bagoas" was the name given to "royal eunuchs". This is incorrect and a closer look at the text adduced to "support" it shows this clearly. We need to look at the translation provided by Taphoi:
The most famous of all, are those which, for the sake of distinction, have received the name of “royal” palms, because they were preserved solely by the kings of Persia; these used to grow nowhere but at Babylon, and there only in the garden of Bagoas, that being what they call eunuchs, who actually exercise royal authority over them.
The last phrase is highlighted for good reason. Here there are two pronouns: "who" and "them". It behooves us to ask just exactly what these pronouns refer to. "Who" can only be the eunuchs, that much is plain. "Them" can only be the "royal" palms. So the text, as Taphoi has given us, states that the eunuchs exercised "royal authority" over the palms. There is a clearer translation, one that makes matters a little more plain:
The most famous of all, are those which, for the sake of distinction, have received the name of "royal" palms, because they were preserved solely by the kings of Persia; 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!
Now one might argue over translations from the Latin until the sun sets but, and it is a large but, can we really believe that Pliny actually thought that eunuchs - royal eunuchs all called Bagoas - spent their days exercising "royal authority" over these truculent palms or that several exercised authority over "that country" (Babylon). Plutarch's reference would indicate that the supposed murderer of Arses had property in Susa and that he might well have exercised "royal authority" over Babylonia.
Taphoi wrote: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 [...] If they were awarded by Alexander honorifically, then it follows that they are all prominent and important courtiers.
And if they are such it says very, very little for your supposed fusion policy of Alexander. This policy, you argue, was "complex and multi-faceted" and included the enlisting "of Persians into the fighting units" of the Macedonian army as early as 330. Yet, when we get to the Indus, the only Persian is, on your reckoning, a eunuch. I wonder, at times, if you actually read what you write?

The argument over the "Indus fleet" and Bagoas was had elsewhere. I wonder why you wish to start again here? Perhaps it provides solace from the "Hephaestion and the Chiliarchy" thread from which, as per your modus operandi, you have run.
Last edited by Paralus on Mon Mar 05, 2012 4:09 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Bagoas in "Alexander's Lover" of Andrew Chugg

Post by agesilaos »

;[Bagous] ita vocant spaodones, qui apud eos etiam regnavere.
Means ‘this [Bagous] is what they call eunuchs, who in their country even rule.’

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
The best kind alike in size and in quality, whether
of the white or black variety, is that which in either
form is called ' the royal palm '; but this, they say,
is rare ; it grows hardly anywhere except in the
park of the ancient Bagoas, near Babvlon.
We can gauge Pliny’s accuracy here as Theophrastos’ ‘hardly antwhere except’
has become ‘only’ - uno – in Pliny.

The notion that Bagoas was a name exclusively for eunuchs or as Pliny has it, that it means eunuch is patent nonsense, there are many other names attested for eunuchs and the name is probably derived from the Old Persian baga, meaning god a suffix found in many transmitted Persian names, Bagastanes and Megabyzos for two...yes, those naughty Greeks and Romans were so fluent in Persian they failed to transliterate ‘Baga’ correctly and substituted their ‘Mega’. The correct form is secure as it appears at Behistun. As far as I know we do not know the OP for eunuch and , as far as i can tell none of its derivatives use a word resembling ‘bagoas’, I will be checking with my friendly, neighbourhood Iranian to make sure, though.

What can be said is that Bagoas does seem to have become the eunuch par excellence in First century Rome Quint. Inst. 5.12 uses it (and Megabyzus) as archetypical and Ovid Ov. Am. 2.2. chooses Bagoas as the name of his bedroom attendant Pliny presumably thinks the reason is etymological rather than historical.

As for no Persian noble being called Bagoas, there is Darius’messenger in Herodotos III 128
Darius asked this and thirty men promised, each wanting to do it himself. Darius told them not argue but draw lots; they did, and the lot fell to Bagaeus, son of Artontes. [2] Bagaeus, having drawn the lot, did as follows: he had many letters written concerning many things and put the seal of Darius on them, and then went with them to Sardis. [3] When he got there and came into Oroetes' presence, he took out each letter in turn and gave it to one of the royal scribes to read (all of the governors of the King have scribes); Bagaeus gave the letters to test the spearmen, whether they would consent to revolt against Oroetes. [4] Seeing that they were greatly affected by the rolls and yet more by what was written in them, he gave another, in which were these words: “Persians! King Darius forbids you to be Oroetes' guard.” Hearing this, they lowered their spears for him. [5] When Bagaeus saw that they obeyed the letter so far, he was encouraged and gave the last roll to the scribe, in which was written: “King Darius instructs the Persians in Sardis to kill Oroetes.” Hearing this the spearmen drew their scimitars and killed him at once. Thus atonement for Polycrates the Samian overtook Oroetes the Persian.
And also a later general of Mithradates Eupator in Appian’s Mithradatic Wars 10.
When you think about, it free-choice is the only possible option.
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