Seriously - pros and cons of being a eunuch
Cecil was a bit flippant here....
As were fellow dopers in the "eunuchs" thread here.
So, in the intersts of fighting ignorance....
Monarchs throughout the ancient world (Romans, Indians, Egyptians, Turks) relied on castrated males to guard the harem and perform domestic work in courts and palaces. The best example was imperial China. Based on the well-documented experience in China, we can list the good and bad points of being a eunuch thus…
You got to live in the imperial court – you wouldn’t starve, you’d have a nice uniform, somewhere to sleep. That was a major attraction in a country where famine and disaster were the norm for many people.
In a few cases, you had access to the emperor’s ear. Top eunuchs wielded significant power and in some cases almost ran the empire. The mandarins (civil servants) who officially ran China despised eunuchs because the eunuchs had superior access to the emperor (a bit like Bob Haldeman in the Nixon White House).
Eunuchs also reared young princes, and were often able to mold the future emperors to suit their own purposes. For example, the eunuchs would bring up the young man to trust no-one except, of course, the eunuchs. They also indulged in power struggles with the emperors’ wives, who of course all wanted their sons to succeed the emperor.
You got paid reasonably well.
You had a pleasant singing voice and would be in demand as an entertainer.
They chopped your private parts off. As well as the obvious unhelpful effect on your sex life, this also often caused serious urinary tract and other infections. Eunuchs were famous for smelling bad because of incontinence. Expert Mary Anderson says “If the surgery rendered the eunuch unable to urinate, the passages having grown closed, he was doomed to an agonizing death.” But it seems there was a 98% survival rate. The excised bits were kept in a jar.
Discipline in court was very tough. A severe beating with bamboo was a common punishment. Many boys attracted to the idea of life as a court eunuch ended up trying to run away.
You walked funny.
It was a living. Not your run of the mill burger-flipping sort of job, but it required a bit more commitment than most of us would be prepared to accept.
See Mary Anderson - http://acc6.its.brooklyn.cuny.edu/~p.../eunuchs1.html
See also Melissa Dale of Georgetown U.