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eunuchs, religious  

Richard Gordon

In the Classical period, religious eunuchs are a feature of several Anatolian cults of female deities, extending across to Scythia (Hdt. 4. 67: not shamans) and to the southern foothills of the Taurus mountains, but independent of Babylonian and Phoenician (Euseb. Vit. Const. 3. 55. 2 f.) practices (see anatolian deities). As a whole the institution created a class of pure servants of a god (Matt. 19: 12). Its significance derives from a double contrast, with the involuntary castration of children for court use and the normal obligation to marry. The adult self-castrate expressed in his body both world-rejection and -superiority.Two forms may be distinguished. (1) A senior, or even high, priest in a temple, e.g. the eunuchs of *Hecate at Lagina in *Caria (Sokolowski, LSAM no. 69. 19, etc.); the Megabyz(x)us of *Artemis at *Ephesus (Strabo 14. 1. 23; Vett. Val., 2. 21. 47); the *Attis and Battaces, the high priests of Cybele at *Pessinus.



Simon Hornblower

Hypsicratia, mistress of *Mithradates VI Eupator, who admiringly called her by the male form of the name, Hypsicrates (Plut. Pomp. 32. 8). Her commemorative funerary statue has been found at Phanagoreia on the Cimmerian *Bosporus (2); it calls her Hypsikrates, but makes clear she was female. The inscription perhaps (Bowersock) formed part of the restoration of Mithradates’ prestige in the time of his grand-daughter Dynamis.