What it is to be Gorean – Part 1 (Introduction)

As I always like to mention, these writings are based on a personal perspective of things (except when mentioning historical or empirical facts) and should not be taken as absolute truths or in any way as an insult just because we might have totally different perspectives on a specific topic. Don’t forget, you’re in a Gorean blog, written under a particular Gorean perspective of life.

Gorean Lifestyle / Culture is characterized by several pillars, one of them being consensual slavery. This alone is far from unique, considering that in the world many thousands of people live in some sort of consensual hierarchical relationship characterized by power exchange agreements.

There is such a broad variety of types of relationships that this in fact means there is a flavor for every taste, the BDSM community, the “general kink” community, the Gorean Community, the TPE community, and others, all practice a different variant of dominant and submissive relationship dynamics.

Over the decades, there have been many influences between several of those ‘streams’ and sometimes the lines between them become blurred, but the fact is that each has its main characteristics although in many cases disagreements are plentiful regarding the actual definitions both between ‘streams’ and many times inside the ranks themselves.

One of the points in common among many of these ‘streams’ is the existence of slaves. In the Gorean Lifestyle there are slaves and they are called Kajirae (plural for kajira). But it is extremely important to keep in mind that a kajira is a slave, but a slave is not necessarily a kajira. Likewise, a Gorean Master is a Dominant, but a Dominant is not necessarily (at all) a Gorean Master.

Considering the complexity of this topic and the amount of conflicting views that are shared all over the Web, I decided to put together a compilation of thoughts on several areas that together can help to have a clearer view/perspective of what it is in fact to be a Gorean (Master/kajira).

In my next post I will start by defining the origins and sources of the Gorean Thought / Philosophy in order to define the boundaries of the philosophy, the scope of the thought and the general guidelines.

Please follow the blog and share your comments/inputs so that I can tailor the future posts in order to answer any questions that you have or address any topic you find relevant.

List of posts in this series:

I wish you well!

©2020 – Written by Azrael Phoenix

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Gor and the Evolutionary Sexual Selection


Tal, all!

During the time I have been actively writing about Gorean subject matter, I have always steered clear of delving too deeply into the scientific basis for any validity which might be present in Norman’s sociobiological theories. I have done so for several reasons; first of all, there are so many conflicting theories regarding possible biological basis for human behavior that to do so would be to embark on a never-ending exercise in point/counter-point hypothesizing; and secondly, because Norman himself never saw fit to author a scientific analysis of his own work. Where Norman chose not to go, therefore, neither goeth I.

Nevertheless, it was probably only a matter of time before someone encountered some of the generalized, hyper-simplified explanations I have been tossing out on these pages and attempted to rebut them as if they were, indeed, formatted as legitimate scientific theses.

That seems to me to be going a bit overboard, in my opinion. It should be obvious that much which I have written to the pages of the Silk & Steel website, my recently critiqued essay “The Gorean Argument” notwithstanding, was written in a rather off-the-cuff manner. The very verbiage which I tend to use in my essays here is nothing if not casual, sort of a “Hey! Maybe A has something to do with B” approach.

I have never considered it necessary to write a formal scientific point paper in defense of Gorean evolutionary theory, quite frankly because the subject matter is quite voluminous, nor have I bothered to expend the time to publish any of my research to these pages. The source materials are out there for anyone to study, should they seek a greater understanding of evolutionary psychology theory as it relates to human sexual selection strategy. I have therefore left it at that.

Nevertheless, I will now scratch the tip of the iceberg and mention a few points which I feel to be somewhat supportive of Norman’s theories. I realize now that it was perhaps a mistake to leave so much open, in my earlier writings, to the selective interpretation of the reader.

Perhaps a redefinition of some of the primary elements which I have drawn upon in my work here might do much to clarify the mistaken misinterpretation which some have drawn from my writing, in their assertions that Gorean theory seems to be based in some invented pseudo-mythical prehistory in which everyone was the fantasy equivalent of Conan, dwelling in an environment where everyone fought everyone else for the chance to get a bit of nookie. : )

Further, I must admit I find it vaguely insulting that those who have chosen to critique the generalities which I have expressed in essays such as the one mentioned above, actually seem to believe that I have no clue regarding the intricacies of sexual selection in the human animal, of the role which culture plays in that process, or of the various hypothetical models of prehistoric interaction currently being studied by various anthropologists in the field.

When someone approaches an anthropologist (I happen to have more than a few friends who work in that field, so believe me, I know) and asks a question of them such as “Are women genetically programmed to behave submissively to all men?” or “Was physical combat the only pertinent factor in prehistoric sexual selection?” said anthropologists have a hard time taking the question seriously. Because the answer to both of the above questions is a resounding “no.” The process of human sexual selection is, and has always been, much more complex than that. But as long as questions such as those described above are asked of scientists and social scientists, there will continue to be a dearth of understanding regarding what Norman was actually talking about.

To begin: In my opinion, Norman was describing, in his work, not some all-powerful urge for all females to fall down and worship the men around them. Rather, he was discussing a particular peculiarity in engrained human female sexual selective response. Ergo, he was discussing a built-in mechanism which, when not countermanded by societal or cultural intervention, can often result in an extremely powerful physiological attraction of a certain type of female towards a certain type of male. “Submission,” that all-powerful buzzword of the BDSM set, is a series of interactive response behaviors in which that attraction is expressed and solidified. First comes attraction, based in part upon engrained female reproductive strategy behaviors, then, if a particular type of reciprocal bond is established, occurs the onset of “submission” behaviors.

Is there any evidence which supports this?

Norman’s work is similar in many ways to theories which are advanced in Tiger and Fox’s The Imperial Animal, considered by many to be the seminal work on the subject of evolutionary psychology. Norman’s theories seem to be firmly rooted in the scientific discipline known as sociobiology.

For the record, pure sociobiological theory does not assert that all human social behavior is determined by genes. Rather, it states that there are three distinct possibilities:

  1. The human brain has evolved to the point that it has become an independent organic computer controlled and programmed solely by cultural influences;
  2. Human social behavior is determined by genetic coding but the human species has ceased to evolve, and we are all locked into the same pattern;
  3. The human species is pretty much genetically set, but displays enough genetic variability among individuals to further evolve in their biological capacity for social behavior.

The Gorean viewpoint holds that of the three possibilities related above, the third possesses the highest truth value: that Homo sapiens, though possessed of a relatively fixed genetic code, retains the ability to evolve. The speed at which such an evolution might occur is hampered by current technological advances and cultural trends which have resulted in much of the human race experiencing an extended period of “survival downtime” wherein basic survival is no longer as difficult to achieve. The speed of evolutionary process tends to manifest itself in direct relation to the necessity of genetic alteration dictated by environmental factors. Hence, in many cases, cultural dictates have outstripped the rate of evolutionary change required to alter the biology of the human race to match them.

There have been quite a few modern anthropological studies, fully meeting the criteria of postulational-deductive science, which delve into the effects of genetics on human behavioral compulsion. Joseph Shepher’s work on the incest taboo and sexual roles, Mildred Dickeman’s studies on hypergamy and sex-biased infanticide, William Irons’ study of the relation between inclusive genetic fitness and the local set of evaluational criteria of social success in a herding society, Napoleon Chagnon’s work on aggression and reproductive competition in the Yanomamo, William Durham’s work on the relation between inclusive fitness and warfare in the Mundurucu and other primitive societies, Robin Fox’s expressed research on the relation of fitness to kinship rules, Konner and Freedman’s work on the adaptive significance of infant development, and James Weinrich’s studies on the relationship of genetic fitness and the details of sexual practice; all dealt with the relationship of genetic encoding to human behavioral function.

One of the most frequently used methods to study genetic effects upon the individual is to compare the similarity between identical twins, who are known to be genetically identical, with the similarity between fraternal twins, who are no closer genetically than ordinary siblings. When the similarity between identical twins proves greater, this distinction between the two kinds of twins is ascribed to heredity.

Using this and related techniques, geneticists have found evidence of a substantial amount of hereditary influence on the development of a variety of traits that affect social behavior, including number ability, word fluency, memory, the timing of language acquisition, sentence construction, perceptual skill, psychomotor skill, extroversion and introversion, homosexuality, the timing of first heterosexual activity, particular sexual preferences, likes, dislikes, and various behavioral tendencies.

Loehlin and Nichols, for example, studied aspects of the environment and performance of 850 sets of twins who took the National Merit Scholarship test in 1962. The early histories of the subjects, as well as the attitudes and childrearing practices of the parents, were taken into account. The results showed that the generally more similar treatment of the identical twins did not explain the greater similarity in general abilities and personality traits manifested between sets of twin, or even in their shared ideals, goals, and vocational interests. It seems evident that these similarities are based in aspects of genetic identity.

Frank Salter, of the Max Planck Institute, was an avid defender of sociobiology and its theories. A particularly interesting read is Daniel Dennett’s work, Darwin’s Dangerous Idea, in which he defends Darwin against those who would rewrite him to reflect modern trends of scientific thought. But the validity of sociobiology and evolutionary psychology is hotly debated, particularly by the social scientists, many of whom assert that genetic structure and biological factors have little or nothing to do with human behavior and the resulting development of human culture.

In addition, recently a book was published entitled “A Natural History of Rape: Biological Bases of Sexual Coercion,” which scientifically explores the possible biological forces which contribute to male sexuality, based upon the principles of evolutionary psychology. And which makes assertions which seem to be functionally identical to many of Norman’s own, as they appear in the Gor books (I add that that book, even before its publication, came under fire for the politically incorrect nature of many of its proposals. Which is what reputedly happened to Norman, and eventually resulted in his blacklisting and censorship in the late eighties. Apparently there are some theories which scientists are not supposed to propose, no matter what their evidence suggests).

In order to determine whether or not Norman’s arguments in favor of ethical naturalism in regards to human behavior hold any water, and whether or not his assertions regarding the biological basis of human sexual selection have any merit, we must answer the following questions:

  1. Does evolution exist?
  2. Are biological traits passed down from individual to progeny via evolution?
  3. Do these biological traits affect propensities regarding emotional response and behavior?
  4. Does natural selection exist as an evolutionary factor?
  5. Does sexual selection exist as an evolutionary factor?
  6. Is competition among males a primary element of sexual selection?
  7. Is Homo Sapiens a high order primate?
  8. Is the common chimpanzee a high order primate?
  9. Do Homo Sapiens and the common chimpanzee share a factor of genetic identicality in the range of 98 plus percent, making those two primate species more genetically similar to one another than to any other species?
  10. Do Homo Sapiens and the common chimpanzee therefore share most of the same gene patterns?
  11. In naturally occurring chimpanzee societal pack-structure, do the males compete, sometimes violently, for the right to breed with the most fertile females?
  12. Are chimpanzees and Homo Sapiens even more behaviorally similar, in that they are both high primates which, though primarily herbivorous, periodically hunt other species and eat their meat?
  13. Are chimpanzees and Homo Sapiens both high primates which maintain a primarily patriarchal society, which periodically wages interspecies warfare?
  14. Of all other high order primates, is the only other species which compares to the genetic similarity of Homo Sapiens and chimpanzees the Bonobo ape?
  15. Is the social grouping of Bonobo apes (somewhat) matriarchal, herbivorous, and mostly non-aggressive?
  16. Might this be because the Bonobo ape developed under different habitat conditions, rarely encountered other groups of its own kind (strangers), and because the Bonobo females actively control the Bonobo males by diverting their aggressive behavior via sexual enticement (i.e, by offering sexual rewards to those males which behave as the females wish)?
  17. Might it be safe to say that Bonobo females control their males by rewarding them with sex, and threatening to withhold it from them if they do not conform to the wishes of the female?
  18. If Homo Sapiens was subjected to sexual selection, which includes male-male competition behaviors, over a period of a million years, would certain genetic patterns begin to emerge and become biologically engrained in members of that species?
  19. Would these genetic patterns then affect behavioral propensities?
  20. Has the gene record of Homo Sapiens recently been erased and begun from scratch?
  21. Do we all still carry those evolutionarily engrained genetic patterns within us all?
  22. Do we therefore still possess a propensity to experience certain emotional states engendered by those genetic patterns?
  23. Are we really that different, genetically, from the common chimpanzee?
  24. Are we really that different, genetically, from the Bonobo ape?
  25. Do certain patterns of human behavior reflect the behavior of those two species?
  26. Is one of the primary difference between Homo Sapiens and other high order primates the size of our brain, which continues to grow and develop after birth to an extent not seen in other primates?
  27. Can we therefore entertain abstract concepts much better than other high order primates?
  28. Is the human process of thought capable of developing behavioral dogmas and taboos which specify non-naturally-occurring behavior patterns in Home Sapiens, based upon abstract concepts which cannot be fully understood or generated in other high order primates?
  29. If our dogmas and taboos are not based in biological function, might they be based in cultural peculiarities, or sometimes even in metaphysics–i.e, abstract concepts which have no physical base (religion, etc)?
  30. Can our dogmas and taboos become detrimental to an understanding of the behavioral patterns which our genetic encoding attempts to compel us to enact?
  31. Can male territorial and sexual competition result in decreased procreative opportunities for the less successful competitors?
  32. Does the stronger, healthier member of a species have a higher chance of survival than a weaker, less combatively skilled member of that same species, in a competitive environment?
  33. Can the dead procreate?
  34. In a society wherein there are competitive males, is female attraction to the stronger representatives of the pack males, and the ability to attract and maintain the attentions of such males, a beneficial survival trait?
  35. Can a female produce offspring without the acceptance and copulation of a male? Would her offspring stand a better chance of surviving if the male accepted both her and the child and chose to protect and provide for them? In a competitive breeding environment, would the ability to inspire such devotion from the male be a beneficial survival trait?
  36. Would the genetic patterns which produce these behaviors be passed down via natural selection?
  37. Were we, in our ancestral past, similar to the common chimpanzees?
  38. Are we now, in our less procreatively-competitive modern environment, behaving more like Bonobos?
  39. Is there a correlation between human behavior and the behavior of the genetically similar primate species mentioned above?
  40. If certain sociosexual behavior could be simulated which emulated specific male/female sexual interaction patterns from our ancestral past, would we not be subject, to some extent, to the inbred emotional responses which our genetic encoding would provide, in relation to sexual and hormonally-induced emotion response in those situations?

Recently, there has been a trend in which many biologists have used Darwin’s principles of sexual selection as a coherent theoretical framework for the study of sex differences across hundreds of studies and across scores of species.

At the same time, social scientists have, for the most part, been studying sex differences from a completely different theoretical perspective: gender roles. That mode of thought suggests that most nonphysical human sex differences are the result of the culturally-mediated social roles that are adopted by boys and men and girls and women. Too often, it seems, this belief that human sex differences are entirely based upon the adoption of such roles has been accepted wholeheartedly, without nearly enough critical observation.

The Mechanisms of Evolutionary Selection

Any event, occurance, process, or environmental condition that in any way influences daily existence, life, death, or reproduction is a potential selection pressure. Each such selection pressure affects the individual whom it affects. In many cases, even slight differences between individuals can determine which of those individuals will survive to reproduce, versus those who will die. In such instances, the process of evolutionary selection is taking place.

Because of this selection, the individuals who happen to possess whatever characteristic influences survival and reproduction will, understandably, survive in greater numbers than their peers. If these specific characteristics are inherited, then the survivors will produce offspring who also possess characteristics different than other members of the same species (conspecifics).

If these characteristics continue to influence life, death, and reproduction in the offspring’s generation, then the process will repeat itself. Over generations there will be an alteration in the selected characteristic: the average individual in the population will have developed different characteristics than those possessed by the average individual several generations earlier.

This process, natural selection, alters species to better fit their ecology. The only requirement for natural selection to function is that the particular beneficial survival trait must vary from individual to individual, and that some part of this variability must have a genetic basis. Under such conditions, selection occurs, whether the trait is physical, physiological, or behavioral.

Behavioral characteristics, in order to evolve, must therefore possess variability, and a genetic basis. Heritable individual differences provide the raw materials for evolutionary selection. Since nearly all features of human anatomy, physiology, behavior, cognitions, etc, display individual variability which is at least partiallyly heritable, they are all, therefore, vulnerable to variable selection pressures.

Still, the process is not as simple as it appears. For instance: particular selection pressures can diminish or erase heritable variability, making them no longer heritable. Therefore, some traits which have shown great selection variability in the past may no longer be heritable (e.g, the genetic pattern which standardizes basic physical elements in Homo sapiens may no longer be prone to drastic change– humans have two arms and two legs, for example, a trait which is inherited but no longer variable on a large scale).

Some human traits that seem to display heritable variability have avoided being subjected to extreme selection pressures, and some variable heritable traits are only subjected to selection pressures when certain conditional modifiers are met, such as adjustment to a particular climate or environment.

The process is always occurring, though what traits are affected depend upon the current level of selection pressure being applied by external forces, which can vary from generation to generation or from one geographical region to another.

Under the correct conditions, the process of selection goes into “sleep mode,” as it were. When food is abundant and predators and parasites are scarce, certain selection pressures which deal directly with survival issues are weak, and most individuals survive to reproduce. Individual differences in survival traits are not particularly important under such conditions.

Once the process of sexual reproduction had evolved into existence, an integral part of the life history of all members of sexually reproducing species was to obtain a mate with whom to procreate. Where this process becomes complex is that factors of individual variability, which result from the gene-mixing which occurs through sexual reproduction, also determines that all potential mates are not inherently equal. This interesting state of affairs gives rise to competition for the most suitable mate, or the greatest variety of mates. The processes whereby mates are selected, and the competition behaviors which result from this, are known as sexual selection.

Sexual selection is a complex, active process that is influenced by numerous factors, among which are various sex differences, the costs and benefits of reproduction, and especially the ecology of the species. There are additional factors which impact upon this process, cultural and societal dictates included.

The necessary dynamics of this process tend to express themselves as aspects of female choice of mating partners, which gives rise to male-male competition over access to mates, or efforts to control desirable resources which females require to support their progeny.

Pay attention, Goreans, because this is important: at its heart, the process of sexual selection is primarily a manifestation of female choice. Females determine what natural aptitudes indicate desirability in a male as possible breeding partner. The males then proceed to engage in competition behaviors which:

  1. determine who controls the resources (land, food, etc.) which the female will require.
  2. determine who has access to the best potential female mates.

Once this basis has been established, and the dynamics of female choice and male-male competition are in place, we may then begin to study the mechanisms which influence the various expressions of the differences between the sexes which relate to sexual selection, be they biological, behavioral, and cognitive. This is where sex homones come into the picture. The body maintains its own internal breeding strategy, and provides the appropriate sex hormones to compel psychological,emotional, and physical behavior.

The majority of sex differences which are present in Homo sapiens are also present in other primate species. One of the most intensely researched area of primate social behavior is the area of male-male competition. Human males, like many other high primates males, compete in certain contexts via physical attack and physical threat, in an effort to establish social dominance over other competing males. Gorean thought holds that these behaviors still occur in the human animal. History and science seem to bear this out.

Depending upon the current environmental dynamic, the place one occupies in this reproductive pecking order can have serious reproductive consequences for individual males. Often, depending upon the context, only the most dominant (alpha) male sires offspring. How social dominance is achieved, however, is determined by the specific structure of the particular social grouping. It may be achieved by one-on-one physical contests, willingness to cooperate within a specific male group, the display of a high degree of intelligence, or even by the social support of females in the group, either the young females or the older matriarchal females.

The specifics of female choice remain, to a certain extent, a mystery, and have not been studied nearly as closely as male competition behavior. Current research suggests that females in most primate species do prefer some males to others, though the reasons for this have not been fully explained, and seem variable. For the most part, it seems that primate females base their choices upon possible risks of infanticide (no one wants to mate with someone who is going to kill your children) and the possible level of social support which the male may provide to the female. In some cases, the overall choice seems to be based upon the level of protection which the potential male mate can provide to the female and her young against possible abuse or attack by other males.

Female-female competition also occurs in most primate species. This behavior, however, seems to be associated with competition among females for resources, rather than mates. Access to high-quality food, for instance, which has long term consequences in regards to the health of the female and her young. This might be seen as an indication that part of the female primate’s reproductive strategy concerns security and longterm health benefits for both she and her potential offspring.

Female choice is an extremely large part of the reproductive “mating dance.” But what about male choice? Where does that enter into the equation?

Male choice is evident among the higher primates, also, and is an important factor in reproductive behavior. Male choice appears to be based on the nature of the relationship between the male and individual females and on implicit reproductive concerns. This is where the possibility that female submissive behaviors influence the male’s choice of possible mate enters the picture.

If certain types of relationship behavior are attractive to the male, then this may well be a factor in whether or not he selects a particular female with which to mate. Apart from any such concerns, male primates tend to seek mates who display signs that they are particularly fertile. There have been studies regarding the development of female human breast size, waist-to-hip ratio, et all, which allude to the possibility that these physical traits may well have been selected for as indications of female fertility.

The most obvious and measurable effect of male-male competitive behavior in primates is the evolution of males who are larger and stronger than females of the same species. The existence of male-male competition in the primate species, and the extent to which it has been practiced, seems to determine how great is the difference of physical size between the two sexes of a primate species. These size differences seem to be far less in species where male-male competition is based upon male-male cooperation within the group.

Here I quote David C. Geary from his book “Male, Female;The Evolution of Human Sex Differences” (for the record, much of the information I have included here is paraphrased from elements of his work):

“The consistent relation between physical sex differences and the intensity of male-male competition allows inferences to be drawn about the likely nature of male-male competition in our ancestors. Beginning with our Australopithecine ancestors and continuing to modern humans, males are physically larger than females. When these patterns are combined with the patterns of male-male competition and female choice that are evident in extant primates inferences can be drawn about the potential pattern of sexual selection during the course of human evolution (Foley & Lee, 1989).”

In most mammals, the male has little or no direct involvement in his offspring. Therefore, the male reproductive strategies of these species tend to be largely involved with simple male-male competition, and the female reproductive strategy tends to concern itself with obtaining the best genes for her offspring (i.e, getting more buck for her bang). Humans, however, display a far greater level of parental investment.

When both parents invest in offspring, and there are differences in the quality of care or genetic make up which the parents provide to their offspring, then the elements of female-female competition and male choice suddenly become much more important. They do not supplant male-male competition and female choice– but they do become much stronger factors in reproductive strategy.

Human sexual selection is highly complex and often varies among cultures and historical periods within a culture. Competition behaviors can be altered by cultural dictates or expectations, along with value systems. For instance, the definition of “success” and “valued resources,” both of which may be important in determining the female reproductive strategy in female choice.

What might have formally been a leadership position in the clan or tribal group may be transposed into having a high paying job, of some other form of social prominence. In addition, the resources which a female seeks to obtain to secure a better future for her offspring may no longer be access to food or tribal resources, but may now be such culturally valued resources as a large house with a four-car garage, a large bank account, etc. Nevertheless, research shows that men who are considered “successful” by their particular culture typically have more wives and children, or at least more reproductive opportunities, than males whose culture determines are less successful.

The fundamental motivating agenda of complex organisms, including human beings, seems to be the effort to establish some measure of control over the social (people), biological (food), and physical (territory) resources that encourage survival and reproductive success. The evolutionary process seems to have selected for individuals who have the means and motivation to obtain some measure of control over the above listed resources.

In primate societies where relatively intense male-male competition occurs, not only are the males larger, on average, than the females, but the males tend to mature later than the females and experience a larger growth spurt during puberty. In species where there is little male-male competition, males are the same size (on the average) than are the females, and they mature at an identical rate. The fact that human beings conform to the larger-male/different-growth-rate dynamic detected in male-male competitive species seems to indicate that male-male competition has been an extremely large part of the human social dynamic during the evolution of Homo sapiens.

Phylogenetic Relationships

Our social arrangements most closely resemble those of the high order simian primates, which are genetically our closest living relatives. This makes sense. It seems to be an established fact that we share a common ancestry with these primates, and if human social behavior is influenced by genetic predispositions in behavioral development, which modern scientific evidence tends to support, then the argument that modern Homo sapiens is still subject to behavioral pressures which were bred into us during our prehistory makes much sense.

It is widely believed that complex forms of human behavior are controlled by polygenes (genes scattered on many chromosome loci), which affect their owner through a powerful array of physical control systems, including elementary neuronal wiring to muscular coordination and “mental set” induced by hormone levels.

What is the relation of genes to culture? Many social scientists discard the findings of sociobiology because they believe that variation in human cultures can have little or no genetic basis. The social scientist is interested only in variations in behavior which are the direct result of the twin factors of culture and the environment. Sociobiology is interested in the more general features of human nature and the limitations that exist in the environmentally induced variation. By studying the features of human social organization and comparing them to the organization of other, closely related, primate species, sociobiology attempts to reconstruct the earliest evolutionary history of social organization and to discover its genetic residues in contemporary societies.

The Myth of the “Submission Gene”

This ubiquitous “submission,” which everyone seems to spend so much time talking about, is too often misclassified as being some kind of miraculous psychological or biological force. But it is not, in and of itself, a specific genetic trait; i.e, there is no single “submission gene” which some people possess, which others do not, and which is passed along from generation to generation.

The same is true for “dominance.” Some people insist upon treating dominant personality trait-packages as the result of some miraculous “dominance gene.” This is about as far from the truth as can be imagined.

I have, in the past, repeatedly been confronted by individuals who either wish to infer that I believe there is some kind of magic recipe for “dominance,” or who insist upon treating what we might call “dominant behavior” as a unique shopping-cart item which one can either be born with, or born without. That is totally ludicrous. Nevertheless, you’d be amazed by how much time I’ve spent trying to explain my take on the causes of dominant behavior to them. Semantics always seems to get in the way, for some reason.

The reality is much simpler. Neither “dominance” nor “submission” are specific identifiable genetic traits in Homo sapiens. Rather, both are categories of personality traits. What we might refer to as “dominance” and “submission” are fairly broad sets of genetic traits, which are either supported or repressed by one’s active culture, which act as survival modifiers. In a procreative paradigm, they can also function in cooperation with one another to generate specific sexual attraction by those who possess those traits toward a particular personality type, or type of individual.

Both sets of genetic traits (as well as countless others), which came into existence in the human animal through natural selection, in response to environmental factors which existed throughout most of human prehistory, give rise to certain genetically engrained behavioral patterns in relation to same-sex competition, and procreative male-female mating strategies.

Currently, much of civilized western society, and a large part of the modern world, is in a state of evolutionary “survival downtime”– ergo, quite often modern man is freed from the rigors of formerly existent selection pressures by his existence in a non-competitive environment where daily survival issues are much less pressing. In such an environment, when food is abundant and predators and parasites are scarce–selection pressures are minimized and most individuals survive to reproduce. Survival traits are not especially important under such conditions.

Still, the gene patterns remain. The genetic preprogramming which formerly supported successful survival and mating strategies still exists, and will continue to exist until such time that Homo sapiens has evolved beyond it, a process which will take countless generations to occur.

It will continue to exert subtle psychological pressures on human behavior, and can result in numerous symptomatic behaviors in which the human animal’s metaphysical culturally induced value-systems attempt to circumvent instinctual response initiators which are a deeply engrained part of the human being’s inbred survival instincts. Old survival and selection pressures will be culturally replaced by new ones, though perhaps far too swiftly for the evolution of the physical and genetic model of the human animal to match.

As long as that situation is in effect, biologically engrained mating pressures and selection processes will continue to manifest themselves in human social interaction. Sexual attraction will remain a matter of survival strategy, and human biology will continue to support the old agendas built into the human genetic imprint.


Submission is not a single behavioral trait; rather, it seems to be a behavioral act and emotional response inspired by genetically engrained survival strategy. Genetic mating pressures and selection pressures have created within the human animal a preprogrammed behavioral agenda in relation to survival issues. In human society, sexual selection is almost universally based upon the choice of the female.

Therefore, when a heterosexual female human being encounters a male who triggers the necessary switches which invoke the ancient survival agenda (health, success, strength, power) she typically experiences sexual attraction. When this occurs, quite often she begins to establish particularly powerful emotional bonds with the male whom she has selected as the attractive mate (bonds which, due to the difference in male vs. female mating strategies, the male often does not share, or experiences in a different way).

In any event, upon consummation of the relationship, the female often experiences a certain psychological “leap of faith” in which she emotionally transfers power over her body into the control of her selected mate, one who has satisfied (to a variable extent) the conditions of her procreative survival strategy.

If the male in question satisfies the conditions of her procreative survival strategy to a particularly high order, i.e he is a particularly smart/healthy/strong/ independent/powerful specimen, then it is the Gorean belief that she will experience a deep sense of satisfaction, an almost spiritual “surrender.”

That is, as I understand it, precisely what John Norman is talking about when he discusses “submission.”

It seems to me that some women would naturally be more responsive to this particular form of emotional bonding than would be certain others. Much would depend upon other external factors, including cultural indoctrination and life experience. But it also seems evident that unless the female in question was possessed of a radically different genetic structure than that possessed by other females, or unless she had been either culturally trained against it or had endured life experiences which served to interfere with her natural response, that this process of response to the consummation of her sexual selection would be almost universal.


This, then, is my personal interpretation of how evolutionary science fits into Gorean thinking. It is my hope that, this having been written, henceforth I will be subjected to fewer indignant responses to some of the more simplistic explanations of basic evolutionary science I have tossed up on these pages in the past.

Then again, a few years back I authored an essay in which I commented that Goreans seem to feel it is beneficial to “control and diminish weaker and less adaptive elements” of their society, at which time I was referring in a rather general sense to the need to deal with criminal and socially maladjusted individuals who fail to contribute to their society. Nevertheless, a particularly paranoid muckraker chose to interpret that particular phrase to indicate that Goreans are Nazis who want to lock up the physically handicapped in concentration camps. So, there is no accounting for willful misinterpretation, it would seem. : )

In any event, the evidence is out there. Go see for yourself. You don’t have to agree with it– the merits of sociobiology are being hotly contested in anthropological and sociological circles at this very moment, and have been for years.

But there seems to be plenty of supporting evidence that our genes contribute to our behavior, and that sexual selection in human beings has much in common with sexual response behaviors in other high primates. And that where those primates now are, we once were. That being the case, what sexual selection behaviors might we still be subject to, from our ancestral past? And might not our current state of “evolutionary downtime” be subjecting us to non-biologically-related cultural pressures, which countermand the dictates of our heritable genetic identity?

You be the judge.

I wish you well!


Suggested Reading:

Male, Female; The Evolution of Human Sex Differencesby David C. Geary

Ever Since Adam and Eve: The Evolution of Human Sexualityby Malcolm Potts And Roger Short

Primate Sexuality: Comparative Studies of the Protosimians, Monkeys, Apes, and Humansby Alan F. Dixon

Darwin’s Spectre: Evolutionary Biology in the Modern Worldby Micheal R. Rose

Copyright © 2000 Marcus of Ar, All rights reserved.

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The City-State – City Expansion

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

There are numerous ways for a city to expand its territory, power and influence. A city’s military might can be used to conquer other cities. For example, Ar was able to conquer twelve other cities, becoming more like an empire than a simple city-state. But, conquering other cities is a difficult task, requiring the use of vast resources. And it is often unsuccessful. There are easier and more efficient ways to expand. 

Cities can try to spread their influence through commerce and financial support. For some time, Ar, Cos and Tyros attempted to financially influence the towns of the Vosk River, vying for control of the river. This type of influence works best if your city possesses a resource that is needed by another city and which it would be difficult for that city to acquire on its own. 

Colonization of new lands is another common method for cities to expand and there are two main types of colonies. The traditional colony actually becomes a separate entity from the main city. They are often formed when the main city becomes overpopulated or there is a serious political division within the city.

The colonization is carefully planned and before the colonists even leave the original city, they will have formulated a charter, constitution and laws. The colony will acquire its own Home Stone, thus acknowledging its own independence. Though the colony is independent, it will still retain some ties to the original city such as trade.

The other type of colony is more an outpost than a true colony. These outposts retain close ties to the original city and are not permitted to acquire their own Home Stone. They are simple an extension of the main city. For example, Port Cos, on the Vosk River, was a traditional colony formed by citizens of Cos. Ar’s Station, also on the Vosk River, was only an outpost, an extension of Ar. 

When a colony, outpost or other new community is formed, they must first claim their new land. To do so, requires the yellow stake of claimancy. To claim this new land, one must place a yellow stake into the ground during the morning. Next, one must remain there and defend that stake until sunset. If you are still there at sunset, and no one has contested your claim, then the land becomes yours and your Home Stone can be placed there. 

“There are good fellows in all cities.” (Magicians of Gor, p.240)

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The City-State – Outside the City

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

Roads: The cities of Gor can be reached via a system of roads, often kept in very good condition. On these roads, Goreans will commonly stay to the left of someone passing in the opposite direction. This allows a person to keep their sword arm, commonly the right arm, to the other person. Wagons commonly travel down the center of the road except when passing. This usually leads to a set of ruts in the middle of the road. Most roads are not traveled at night as it is considered too dangerous. Important roads often are marked by cylindrical pasang stones. These stones will be inscribed with the symbol of the closest city and indicate the approximate number of pasangs to reach the city. There are three primary types of roads: great road, secondary road, and tertiary road. The great roads are commonly built next to major cities and are often military roads. They are built very solidly of stone, meant to last for quite some time. These would be similar to some of the best roads of ancient Rome. Secondary Roads are most often graveled roads though sometimes they may be paved with logs or plated stone. They can be difficult to pass during rainy weather. Tertiary roads are minor roads, simple dirt trails. Inclement weather can often make these roads impassable. Some cities deliberately fail to properly maintain their roads in order to inhibit the ability of other cities to reach it. For example, Besnit is one of those cities. 

Villages: A number of villages will be located in the vicinity of a city. The villages often provide the city with needed food such as meats, milk, fruits, vegetables and grains. The villages may be tributary to the city though it is more common for the village to remain free. The Peasant Caste is a proud Caste, protective of their freedom and independence. If the village does supply food to the city, whether it is tributary or not, the city will help defend that village. This is a traditional matter, not an actual obligation, followed by nearly all cities. But, if a city fails to protect such villages, it is unlikely the village would willingly provide them with their produce. 

Farms/Orchards/Ranches: Beside the agricultural lands owned by the villages, there are also independents who may own fields, farms, orchards and ranches. Bosk, hurt and verr ranches are common. Bosks are commonly raised for milk and meat while hurts and verrs are raised primarily for their wool. Ka-la-na and grape orchards are common for winemakers. Sul and Sa-Tarna fields are also usually located near cities. 

Mines: Mines, for various metals such as silver, iron and copper, are located in hilly and mountainous regions. Such mines are valuable assets and disputes over their ownership are common on Gor. Tharna is said to have some of the greatest silver mines on Gor though other cities, such as Treve and Argentum, do have silver mines, though not as valuable. 

Villas: Not everyone wants to live within the city though they do want to remain in close proximity to it. They also do not want to live in a small village either. One option is to live in villas located within a few pasangs of the main city. For example, in the Fulvian Hills near Ar, there is a major villa region. There are also villas located near Lydius. 

Dar-Kosis Pits: Some cities have Dar-Kosis pits located outside their walls. These pits are meant to permanently house the contagious victims of the dreaded Dar-Kosis. The pits are commonly built like wells though they are quite large, about 100 feet deep and 200 feet wide. There are caves dug into the walls of the pits, the living areas of the infected, and usually a cistern in the center of each pit to provide water. There are Dar-Kosis pits located outside the walls of Ar. 

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The City-State – City Defences

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

In case of emergency, such as a natural disaster, an imminent attack or some other major danger, cities often have alarm bars. These are hollow metal tubes that are struck by hammers to warn the citizenry. It is unknown whether certain signals delineate certain types of emergencies.

For example, there could be one type of signal for an imminent attack while another signal concerned a city fire. Multiple alarm bars might be placed in different sections of the city to ensure that everyone hears the sounds. 

Fire within a city can be devastating but the cities have fire wagons that handle such matters. A fire wagon would be equivalent to an Earth fire truck though it is unknown how such a wagon handles fires.

Fire wagons, possibly pulled by tharlarion, race through the streets to a fire. To facilitate their movement, many buildings at intersections have rounded corners so the wagons can turn quicker. Fire wagons may bring their own supply of water to help combat the fire. It is unknown if they possess any chemical mixtures to fight fires. 

The worst disaster that can affect a city though is to be attacked and conquered by a foreign city. Thus, cities make preparations to enhance their chances of defending against such an invasion. The city walls are one important aspect of this defense.

Some cities also have moats surrounding their cities. The danger of aerial attacks is very real because of tarnsmen so tarn wire was invented to handle such a threat. Tarn wire consists of very thin wires that are stretched over a city. If a tarn strikes one of these wires, the wire will slice the bird, possibly amputating a wing or even its head.

Most cities will not place these wires in place unless there is a clear threat. A city’s Warriors are also a key component to the city’s defenses. They must be brave and skilled, able to repulse the efforts of the attackers. 

To effectively attack a city often requires siege weapons, created and manned by trained siege engineers. Siege engines are used to topple walls and gates, to attack the defenders and to place attackers into the city.

Catapults, onagers, springals and ballistae are used to launch stones, missiles, flaming oil and more at a city. A giant chain grapnel can be fired by one of these siege engines. Once it attaches to part of the city walls or gates, the engine can pull back the grapnel and destroy parts of the structure.

Siege towers, with battering rams, can be used against a city’s gates. Attackers may dig tunnels and try to bypass the city walls though the defenders are likely to dig their own tunnels to engage the attackers. Successfully attacking a city though is a difficult task, often requiring the attacker to outman the defenders by at least three to one. 

An attacker could attempt to besiege a city but that is rarely effective on Gor. Most cities contain adequate supplies of food and water to outlast a lengthy siege. Usually, the attackers will run of out supplies before the defenders. 

The most successful method to conquer a city include trickery or bribery. It is said that the legendary mercenary captain, Dietrich of Tarnburg, has captured more cities with gold than iron. 

“More gates are opened with gold than iron.”

Magicians of Gor, p.188

“It is sometimes said that any city can fall behind the walls of which can be placed a tharlarion laden with gold.”

Mercenaries of Gor, p.101

“I can take any city,” said Marlenus, “behind whose walls I can get a tarn of gold.”

Hunters of Gor, p.140

The city of Turia, a city that had never been conquered before, was captured by the Wagon Peoples in Nomads of Gor through trickery. The city of Ar was captured in Magicians of Gor by Cos through bribery and trickery, a number of citizens of Ar willing to betray the city to the Cosians. 

If you conquer a city, you often claim the spoils of war, the usual fees collected by a conqueror. The assessment of these fees is meant to remove any potential future threat the conquered city will ever be. The following is a typical set of such fees though it will vary depending on the desires of the conqueror.

The population is disarmed and possession of a weapon is made a capital offense. All of the officers in the Warrior Caste, and their families, are impaled. A thousand of the most beautiful free women are given to the conqueror’s highest officers as slaves. Thirty percent of the remaining free women will become slaves for the troops.

Seven thousand free men will become siege slaves. All of the children under twelve years old will be randomly distributed to the other free cities. This seems to support that adoption does exist on Gor. Any slaves in the city will belong to the first man to recollar them. As can be seen, such fees devastate a conquered city. 

For more information on war, see:

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The City-State – Miscellaneous City Items

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

Accent: Though nearly all cities speak Gorean, many cities acquire their own special accent. This accent can often be used to discern the city of origin of someone speaking. 

Script: Though most cities use the same common script, there are differences among the cities in how they write. Though the formation of the cursive letters is fairly standard, the differences are in such areas as letter size, letter spacing, linkages between letters, length of loops, nature of end strokes, and more. Thus, like the accent, one’s script can often be used to identify your city of origin. The peoples of the Tahari region, though they speak Gorean, have their own script, called Taharic. 

Graffiti: Graffiti is common in Gorean cities, especially in the areas of the markets and baths. The graffiti can range from crude sexual comments to fine poetry. Would-be poets may post their works and others will then comment on it. Men might rate bath or paga slaves, adding comments to the ratings of others. Graffiti is not commonly seen as a city nuisance. 

Public Boards: These boards are official areas where news and messages can be posted. They are most often located in the main plazas or squares in the city. There are two main types of these boards: state boards and privately owned boards. State boards are only for official city announcements and news releases. Privately owned boards sell space so that anyone can post advertisements, messages or anything else they wish. Heralds, criers and sign carriers can also be hired for advertising or to publicize a message. 

Art: Art is taken very seriously on Gor and is considered an enhancement to the city. Thus, cities will often commission artists to create statues, murals, friezes and other art objects for the city. Such items will often commemorate important people or events in the history of the city. The beauty of a city is very important to its citizens. 

Insurance: Certain types of building insurance are available within the cities. Though only fire insurance is specifically mentioned in the books, other forms of insurance may exist as well. Insulae often cannot obtain fire insurance because they are considered too high a risk. 

Pace of Life: A Gorean city is not commonly like the fast-paced cities of Earth. The pace of life is much slower, more relaxed. Though the general Gorean work day is ten Ahn, about twelve hours, it is a much more leisurely shift. For example, two Ahns for lunch is not unusual and Goreans often leave early as well. In addition, a break during the day, even a lengthy one, is not uncommon. Goreans might close their shops simply to observe a beautiful sky. This would tend to reduce the amount of stress in the lives of Goreans and be more conducive to good health. 

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The City-State – City Workers

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

Slaves are used for much of the labor within a city though there are certain activities that slaves are not permitted to work on. Slaves that are owned by the city are called “state slaves.”

Female state slaves may all have to wear a similar mode and/or color of dress. For example, in Ar, female state slaves are garbed in gray. Female state slaves may be used in the public kitchens, laundries, to tend children, to serve at official feasts and dinners, for cleaning and a myriad of other tasks.

State slavery is considered an undesirable position, especially because it is one where the sexual needs of the slave are often ignored. At times, the kajirae may be loaned to city guards, workers or male slaves. But, this is not the norm. Because of this deprivation, state slaves often bring in a good price when sold to a private party. 

Male work slaves are usually used on merchant ships, mines, great farms or as porters on wharves. Within the cities, male work slaves are commonly chained together while they work. A slave work chain might have up to one hundred men on it.

Within a city, male slaves will perform either heavy work or unpleasant tasks, such as emptying the city’s waste vats. Male slaves though will not be used for road construction, siege works, raising walls, or the construction of public buildings. Those tasks are reserved for free men. 

There are two groups of free men that often do such types of work: the free gang and the free chain. A free gang consists of men, skilled or semi-skilled, who work under a general contractor. The contractor rents the services of these men to various cities.

The gang may travel around in wagons, working in numerous different locations. A free chain consists of criminals. Instead of going to prison, the men are “sold” to the owner of the free chain. For the length of their prison sentence, the men must work for the free chain. As the men are obtained cheaply, the chain can be rented out inexpensively.

These men are kept under strict discipline and the work master does have the legal right to kill the prisoners. Some of the work masters have a lengthy series of rules for the men on the free chain.

If they violate any of the rules, then time will be added onto their sentences. Less scrupulous work masters ensure that such men are always guilty of some infraction, thus guaranteeing a longer sentence. 

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The City-State – City Buildings

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

Thousands of different buildings will exist in each city and this scroll will not address every type of possible building. It will address many of the different buildings that were mentioned within the novels. Such information will give you a better understanding of the composition of a Gorean city, including its differences from the cities of Earth. 

As many Goreans are illiterate, many of these buildings need a way to identify their function to such individuals. Thus, they often hang signs outside their buildings with pictures to identify the type of business. For example, a sign may have a paga goblet, thus indicating a paga tavern. A sign might have a hammer and anvil to indicate a Metal Worker, or a needle and thread to indicate a Clothworker. The exact name of the establishment is more likely to be known through word of mouth. 

Central Cylinder: The largest cylinder within a city is most often its Central Cylinder, so large that it nearly forms its own community. The cylinder commonly has a huge entrance, large enough for a number of tharlarion to enter side by side. This cylinder includes the bureaus and agencies that help run the city. The city ruler also resides here and has his offices here as well. The High Council will have offices and meet in this cylinder. This meeting room may be referred to as the Chamber of the Council. In the Chamber, Council members will sit on stone benches, separated into five tiers. The wall behind each tier is painted a color to match the High Caste that sits on that tier. The highest Caste, the Initiates, has the bottommost tier. In the center of the room will be a throne for the city leader. No Council member or visitor is permitted to be armed within this room. Other city Councils are also likely to have offices and meet in the Central Cylinder as well. This Cylinder is likely to be located close to the middle of the city and often very large and important streets lead to it. 

Caste Cylinders: The books mention specific cylinders exist in some cities for the High Castes of Initiates, Physicians and Warriors. Little details are given on these cylinders though it does appear that they include dormitories for caste members, offices, training areas and more. It would seem logical that such cylinders also exist for the Scribe and Builders Castes, the remaining two High Castes. It is less certain if individual cylinders would exist for any of the Low Castes. If so, they would likely be for the more important Low Castes within a city such as the Merchant Caste. 

Baths: A number of cities contain private or public baths, similar to the baths of ancient Rome. Gorean baths are often important social centers. Most of them are public and you just pay a small fee for entrance. They are segregated by sex so that free men and women do not use the same baths at the same time. But, slaves of the opposite sex do not face such segregation. Both female and male slaves work in the baths, the male slaves often being the ones who clean the baths. Bath girls may be rented by a man similar to the use of a paga kajira. Weapons are generally not permitted within the baths. The larger and more encompassing baths will include many additional rooms and services such as massage rooms, steam rooms, exercise yards, recreational gardens, art galleries, strolling lanes, merchant markets, physicians, reading rooms, and music rooms. 

Brewery/Distillery: Many cities will contain breweries and/or distilleries to make their own paga, wine or other alcoholic beverages. Each city’s products will have their own distinctive taste. For example, diverse cities such as Ar, Tyros, Ko-ro-ba, Helmutsport, Anango, and Tharna all brew their own brands of paga. Ta wine is not restricted to Cos. Other cities actually create their own Ta wines though Cosian Ta wine is still considered the best. 

Brothel: Some cities contain brothels and such brothels also vary considerably. Some are simply places one goes for sex with slaves. Others bear little difference to a paga tavern. The cost for entry into a brothel may be as little as a tarsk bit or as expensive as several gold tarns. Brothels are not very popular on Gor, paga taverns being the general preference. Some people mistakenly believe that free women willingly work as prostitutes in some of these brothels but the books do not state that. The books do mention that some men, as punishment or a joke, might capture a free woman, keeping her bound and gagged, and then force her to work for a night in a brothel. The next morning, the poor women would be set free, naked, onto the streets. Such women are not willing prostitutes. 

Carnarium: The plural form of this word is carnarii. These are refuse pits, kept outside the city walls. They are for the dumping of waste and garbage from the cities. Male slaves usually collect the garbage from within the cities and carry it to the carnarii. Certain companies exist that provide these slaves to a city. It is unknown what is ultimately done with these refuse pits. They may simply be buried in time or there may be methods used to eliminate the refuse. 

Cylinder of Documents: In some cities, this cylinder would be a place where legal and official documents are kept. It is assumed that this Cylinder is well protected against the threat of fire as such a disaster could devastate those city records. 

Cylinder of Justice: This cylinder would be the location for the civil legal authorities within a city. There is also the possibility that the civil authorities would share this cylinder with the Initiates who would use it for their own legal proceedings. Prisoners might be kept here, especially those awaiting trials. Trials, before judges and/or juries, would be held here. Court documents and legal scrolls may also be maintained here. Executions, mutilations and other punishments might also be enacted in this cylinder. For example, in Ar the top of their Cylinder of Justice contains a fifty-foot high impaling spear. 

Inn: Inns are not common on Gor though a few exist in most cities. An inn is a place where someone can rent a room for a night. Visiting merchants, foreign delegates and certain other travelers have need of such rooms. You cannot rent a room at a paga tavern. An inn may also provide food and drink with your room. The average price for an inn room, including food and paga, is about two to three copper tarsks a night. Some inns let you share a common lodging room with other visitors while the wealthier travelers will obtain their own private room. Such wealthy men may also bring their own food or even their own cooks. 

Paga Tavern/Café: A paga tavern is a combination bar, restaurant and brothel. In the southern hemisphere, cafes often take the place of paga taverns but are essentially the same type of entity. Paga taverns exist primarily for the pleasure of men, but such pleasures range widely. Men go there to relax or be sociable. They often play Kaissa there. Some taverns even have special tables with a Kaissa board inlaid on the table. Men may wish to watch slave dances or other men duel in the sands. It is also a place where men can learn a lot about a city and hear the latest news. A new visitor to a city can learn much at a paga tavern about his new surroundings. A paga tavern is much more than just a place where men go to enjoy kajirae. Certain paga taverns do permit free women, and even children, to visit. Such establishments are obviously run much more modestly than a normal paga tavern. 

For more information, see Scroll #8, Paga Taverns.

Casino: Some paga taverns and cafes may have gaming tables for gambling. It is unclear if any businesses exist strictly for gambling, such as a casino. It would be possible and even likely due to many Goreans enjoying games of chance and gambling. 

Insula: The plural form of this word is insulae (an ancient Roman term). Insulae are tenements, rentable apartments. They differ from inns in a few ways. Insulae are often rented for long terms than inns. Inns are also maintained in better condition. Insulae are considered to be cheap and quick to construct. They are built of wood and brick and are infamous for their proneness to fire problems. Because of this, insulae often can not obtain fire insurance. Room ceilings are often low, allowing the insulae to stack additional levels in less space. City laws often limit how high these insulae may be so space is at a premium. Stairways are also narrow, helping to conserve space. At the bottom of the stairs is a central vat for waste. The insulae residents will pour their own waste pots into this central area. Eventually the vat will be taken to the carnarii. By law, the central vat must remain covered. This is not always done. In addition, some of the lazier insulae occupants are not too careful in ensuring that all of their individual waste pots gets into the central vat thus this can be a disgusting area. Insulae often also have poor ventilation. Some insulae do not permit animals or slaves to be housed there while others have either basement kennels or slave rings in a yard. Insulae are not comfortable places to live but their cheapness is attractive. Most charge only a tarsk bit a night and they are popular for secret affairs and rendezvous. 

Public Nurseries: These buildings are where very young children are educated. The basics of the First or Second Knowledge will be instilled here, dependent on the Caste of the children. The basics will be disseminated in story form to the children. 

Library: Most cities have a library where thousands of scrolls are kept, all organized and catalogued by members of the Scribes Caste. These libraries are open to all castes, both High and Low. The libraries do not restrict information to the Low Castes. A Low Caste person could actually learn the truths of the Second Knowledge within a library. But, with illiteracy being very common, especially with the Low Castes, few such persons would ever learn those truths. 

Palestra: The plural form of this word is palestrae (an ancient Roman term). These are basically gymnasiums for men. A city will often contain several different palestrae and these different palestrae will sometimes compete against each other. They rarely compete against palestrae from other cities. At these competitions, they will engage in various events such as hurling a stone (similar to a shot put), hurling a javelin both for distance and accuracy, various running races, high jumping and wrestling. These competitions resemble the ancient Greek Olympics in some ways. Contestants will generally be separated into age brackets. Winners will receive prizes, often wool ribbons of varied colors. The ultimate champion of the tournament will often receive a crown of Tur tree leaves, like a laurel wreath. 

Gladiatorial Arena: Some cities enjoy gladiatorial combat, similar to the ancient Romans, and have a special arena for this entertainment. For example, Ar has a Stadium of Blades for such battles. Most of the arena combats are to the death. Thus, most of the combatants are slaves, criminals or poor mercenaries. Members of the Warrior Caste rarely enter the arenas. Successful arena combatants can win money or even their freedom. These combats are very popular with the Low Castes so men trying to earn the support of the people will host arena games. Some men, involved in pending litigation, may even host a game to help induce their jury to side with them. The games can be expensive so they are most often hosted by Merchants, Initiates, Ubars, and Administrators. 

There is much variety in these arena combats. Men will battle with a wide assortment of weapons. They may battle each other or vicious animals such as larls and sleen. Both Outlaw of Gor and Assassin of Gor discuss some of the different types of combats that might be fought. Even slave girls might be forced to battle in the arenas, armed with steel claws attached to their hands. Some arenas might even be flooded to enact a sea battle. At this time, the water would also be filled with marine predators. As these gladiatorial games can be a major business, some cities contain training schools to educate such combatants. 

Tarn Racing Stadium: Some cities enjoy tarn racing, similar to the chariot races of the ancient Romans, and have a special stadium for this entertainment. For example, Ar has a Stadium of Tarns, for such races. Tarn racing is generally more popular than gladiatorial combats and the audiences for each event are often quite dissimilar. Tarn racing teams are divided into factions, often denoted by specific colors. For example, in Ar there were factions divided into blue, orange, green, red, gold, yellow, silver and steel. Racing fans commonly wear a patch on these clothes to indicate the faction color they support. New factions can be created but it is an expensive and risky venture. Racing rules indicate that a new faction must win a significant portion of races during two racing seasons or lose their ability to remain a faction. 

A tarn racing stadium will include not only a racing track but will also contain cylinders holding tarn cots, offices and dormitories of the various factions. Special racing tarns are used for these events. They are very light birds, cannot hold much weight and lack the stamina of other tarns. Thus riders generally need to be small men, like Earth jockeys. Racing tarns also have broader and shorter wings than other tarns and this permits them to make a more rapid take-offs and maneuver better within close quarters. Though permitted, few racers would use any other type of tarn in the races except for racing tarns. The typical tarn racing track is an open padded ring suspended over a net. The track is one pasang long is is shaped like a rectangle with rounded ends. The two straight sides are about 1700 feet long and the rounded corners are about 150 feet wide. The track is divided by twelve rings, each hung from a supporting tower. The six rings on the straight sides are rectangularly shaped. The six rings in the corners are round. Wooden tarn heads, kept in the middle area enclosed by the track, are used to make the number of laps that have been completed. The tarns start on perches and must race through the rings along the path of the track. 

Tharlarion Racing Stadium: Some cities, especially in areas where the domestication of the tarn does not exist or is much rare, enjoy tharlarion races. The city of Venna is famed for its races. Special racing tharlarions are bred for this purpose and they are commomly larger and more agile than normal saddle tharlarion but smaller than draft or war tharlarions. Some famous breeds of racing tharlarion include the Venetzia, Torarii and Thalonian. 

Slave Pens: Both public and private slave pens exist in most cities. They are essentially a place to board your slaves when you must leave the city for a time and you do not want to be accompanied by your slaves. The private pens are considered better, by owners and slaves, though they do cost more. The private pens may also be able to train your slave while you are away for an additional fee. 

Slave Lockers: In some cities, there are slave lockers where an owner can keep his slave for a temporary time. The idea is similar to the lockers you see in Earth gymnasiums, bus depots, etc. An owner places a coin in a slot, often a tarsk bit, and receives a key to a specific locker. He then places the slave in the locker. The door of the locker is perforated so the girl can receive air. These lockers may be stacked together. Obviously a girl cannot be left for too long in these lockers as she has no food or water. 

Slaver Houses: Each city will contain a number of Slaver Houses, complexes containing a multitude of buildings and employees engaged in the business of slavery. The larger Houses will contain such facilities as baths, kitchen, laundry, commissaries, storerooms, medical facilities, library, records room, wardrobe and jewelry chambers, tarncots, training rooms, recreation rooms, pens, kennels, chambers for processing, private sales rooms, and offices and quarters for staff including Metal Workers, Bakers, Cosmeticians, Bleachers, Dyers, Weavers, and Leather Workers. In some Slaver Houses, any free woman who visits must possess a special license. They must also remain in the company of a free man who is responsible for her. Part of the rationale for this is to prevent a slave from trying to escape by pretending to be a free woman. An additional reason is to protect the sensibilities of the free woman and prevent her from seeing certain aspects of the Slaver House which free women are considered better off not knowing. 

Theaters: Most cities will have one or more stages for theater productions, and some of these stages may be quite elaborate. The types of theater on Gor vary from sophisticated comedies and serious dramas to low comedy, burlesque, farce and mime. Many roles are masked. In the more sophisticated dramas, all of the parts are played by men as women are not permitted on the stage. It is believed that the voices of women do not carry as well as a man. But, as most theaters have excellent acoustics and some masks have sound amplifiers, this is not a real problem. In the lesser forms of theater, women are permitted to take on roles though primarily slaves are used. Most theater seating, except for certain privileged sections, is not reserved in advance. You simply show up on the night of the performance and sit in any available seat. In the lower forms of theater, audience participation, comments and criticisms are encouraged. One of the most famous theaters on Gor is in the city of Ar. The Theater of Pentilicus Tallux is a vast structure and its stage could easily hold one thousand actors. 

Temples: Initiates exist in nearly all Gorean cities and thus there is at least one temple to the Priest-Kings within each city. Temple styles vary widely, some being quite ornate and luxurious while others are very simple. Temples are constructed so that they are oriented to the Sardar Mountains, the home of the Priest-Kings. Temples do not contain chairs or benches, except for the Initiates, as Goreans are supposed to stand during religious services. Weapons are not permitted within the temples. A white rail divides the temple into two main areas. One area is for the worshippers and attendees to stand in. The other area is a sacred section for only the Initiates and anyone who has been specially anointed. At the altar area, there will likely be a depiction of the symbol of the Priest-Kings, a large golden circle. There are no actual representations of the Priest-Kings as they is considered blasphemous. Depending on the wealth of the temple, the symbol may or may not be an actual circle of gold. Some temples will also have choirs of young boys, and these boys stand outside the white rail. The boys are bald and have been castrated so that they will have lovely soprano voices. 

Tarn Cot: These are buildings or structures to house tarns. Numerous buildings might possess steel projections on their exterior walls that act as perches for tarns but that is generally a temporary measure. Long term boarding is commonly done with tarn cots. Tarn cots vary in their construction and may be small or very large. Some cots are simply wire cages where the tarn is locked to a perch. Other cots fill large cylinders and have hundreds of perches on the walls. Again, the birds are commonly locked to the perches. The roof may have a portal that can open and close and allow the birds access to the sky. When the portal is closed, the tarns are sometimes allowed the fredom to fly around the interior of the cylinder. 

Homes: The typical Gorean home is a simple place, without the clutter of a lot of furniture. The rooms are often circular rooms and possess about a seven-foot ceiling. Any windows are very narrow, so that a man cannot pass through them. Most entry doors will have locks, generally highly ornate and set into the center of the door. Spiral staircases are common in multi-level dwellings. The floor may be covered with rugs, furs or even tiles. If the house contains a garden or courtyard, it will commonly be located within the cylinder and not outside of it. Some private homes may contain a keep, constructed for personal defense. Such a keep is generally a round, stone tower. It will contain adequate supplies of food and water to withstand a short siege. The more wealthy or important the residents, then the more secure the keep will be constructed. Obviously wealthy Goreans live more luxurious lives. Their homes contain more artwork, fancy rugs, elaborate furniture and much more. Some wealthy Gorean men have a Pleasure Garden within their homes, a special residential area for their slaves. This would be like an Earth harem. Though the slaves there are often pampered with many luxuries, it can be a lonely life, especially if you are one of many slaves in that Pleasure Garden. Such a kajira may not see her owner for weeks if not months at a time. Not all Goreans own their own homes. Some live in dormitories within their Caste cylinders such as the Warrior or Initiate Castes. Others rent rooms in insulae, especially those with limited income. 

Merchant Shops: A myriad of different merchant shops will exist in each city. There are few stores though that sell general items. For the most part, stores specialize in certain items. Though that may be more time consuming than being able to shop in a single store, many cities congregate the various shops together and/or have public markets. Most items are created very close to where they are sold. This allows merchants to better examine the quality of the products they sell. Few shops have windows and they are commonly either open to the street or have counters open to the street. At night, shutters will be closed and locked to protect the store. The more expensive stores will not be open to the street. Instead, there will be a door leading through the store into an inner courtyard where the wares will be displayed. Haggling is the order of business in the markets as the prices are not fixed. Thus, markets are noisy and fun places, busy with the constant hustle of commerce. Slaves may visit merchant shops but if they are unaccompanied by a free person, they must wait until all the free patrons have been waited upon. 

Items manufactured within a city, and considered to be worthy, may be stamped with the official city seal to authenticate the origin of the goods. For example, the goods of Ar are considered to be of excellent worth so that the seal of Ar is important to many. Other cities are known for the quality of specific products so that their city seal is important on those items. But, these stamps can and are sometimes forged so a buyer must be careful of which Merchant he buys from. 

Some of the Caste types that own Merchant shops in a city may include Bakers, Bleachers, Cloth Worker, Cosmeticians, Dyers, Leather Workers, Metal Workers (including precious metals like silver and gold), Potters, Rug Makers, Saddle Makers, Tarn Keepers, Tharlarion Keeper, Vintners, Weavers. Other craftsmen with shops might include carvers, varnishers, table makers, gem cutters, jewelers, carders, tanners, makers of slippers, toolers of leather, glaziers, and weapon smiths. There might also be curio shops that sell a variety of unique and different items. You will also find produce markets, selling a variety of fruits, vegetables, meats and other food items. 

Grain Cylinders: Cities often have large storage cylinders for grain, especially to protect against the possibility of a siege. 

Siege Reservoirs: These large cylinders contain stores of fresh water. Like the Grain Cylinders, Siege Reservoirs are a defense against the possibility of siege. 

Public Kitchens: There are no “restaurants” on Gor as we know them. People may get food at a paga tavern or inn. There are also public kitchens where people can go to eat though these are more functional than social places. 

Public Laundry: This city service is provided to any citizen and slaves work at this facility. Free women generally have to do very little work at home unless they want to. Such public facilities allow them to have the work done by slaves. 

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The City-State – Bridges

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Many Gorean cities possess a multitude of tall cylinders, joined by numerous bridges. Thus, the cities become in essence tiered cities, divided into several levels. The higher levels are generally set aside for the High Castes and the wealthy.

The bridges are very colorful and beautiful. Most of these bridges also do not possess safety rails and can be very narrow, some only three feet wide. When the highest bridges may be one thousand feet high or greater, this can pose an intimidating situation. 

“Let those who fear to walk the high bridges not walk the high bridges.”

Outlaw of Gor, p.248

The bridges also serve a purpose in making it easier to defend the city. By blocking off a bridge or two, you can isolate cylinders and limit the movement ability of invaders. 

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The City-State – City Districts

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Certain sections of the city make up specific districts or neighbourhoods. These areas are often united by common businesses or types of neighbourhoods. Two common districts that exist in many cities are the Street of Brands and the Street of Coins.

Despite being known as “streets” these most often refer to an entire district.

The Street of Brands is the merchant area concerned with the institution of slavery. Slaves, slavery equipment and any other slavery related item can be obtained in this district.

The Street of Coins is the district where various forms of banking occur such as money changing and loans.

Other districts might be residential areas, maybe very poor areas or very rich ones. Cities sometimes have rather markedly different districts very close to one another.

For instance, some expensive paga taverns may be near an area of sleazy insulae and tarsk-bit brothels. 

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The City-State – City Streets

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The length, width and makeup of streets within a city will vary considerably. Street surfaces are commonly either dirt or cobblestone. Most streets do not have a sidewalk or curb. They often slope gently from each side to a central gutter. Some streets are very wide while others are too narrow for a wagon to travel down. Many city streets do not have an official name.

They thus often acquire unofficial names and different people may know a street by different names. A street might be named according to who lives or works on the street. It might also acquire its name from a famous incident that occurred on that street. A long street might be known by different names at different points on the street. This makes it difficult for strangers to travel around in a city.

Thus, they must ask directions to locate a certain street. People generally will only ask someone of their own sex for directions. Free women would not ask questions of a strange man and also would not answer the questions of such a man. Slaves though, of either sex, may be asked concerning directions.

When streets do have official names, a street sign will commonly be painted onto a building corner, a few feet above the ground. Street signs are not placed onto poles. In some cities, it is illegal for non-citizens to make maps of a city or transport a map out of the city. 

City streets are often kept very clean, usually cleaned once a week. Many streets are cleaned by the residents of the buildings facing the street. They are responsible for the maintenance of their own street. The larger streets, plaza and squares are maintained by state slaves.

Where the streets are too narrow for wagons, porters or carts must be used to transport goods to the buildings in those areas. On other streets, the use of wagons is limited to certain times, generally at night and the early morning. This is done so not to interfere with foot traffic during the day.

The narrow streets, because of the closeness of the buildings, are generally kept in shadows during the day. At night, many small streets are dark. Some of the major thoroughfares may be lit by tharlarion-oil lamps or torches, maintained by the state.

Other streets may be lit, but if so, are maintained by the residents of the buildings on those streets, similar to the responsibility for cleaning the streets. Many people, traveling at night, will carry their own torches or lamps. 

The largest streets in a city are often adorned with trees, plants, flowers, fountains, artwork and more. They are made to be attractive as Goreans love beauty. Most city fountains have two basins, an upper and lower one.

Any resident may gather or drink water from these fountains but there is a restriction over who can use the upper basin. The upper basin, often the deeper of the two basins, is restricted to free people only. The lower basin is for slaves and animals.

On many streets, there will also be tharlarion or slave rings, to tether such beasts while the owner wanders the city. There are public gardens in many cities, and they are often maintained so that they are in bloom all year round. Such gardens will have numerous paths winding through the lush vegetation, some providing more private and intimate areas. 

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The City-State – City Walls and Gates

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Nearly all of the cities of Gor are walled cities, walled to protect the city from attack. The height, thickness and number of the walls will vary from city to city. For example, the city walls of Ar might be thought to be the grandest of walls of any city on Gor. Ar has two exterior walls. The outer wall is about three hundred feet high and the interior wall, about sixty feet away from the outer wall, is about four hundred feet high.

Each wall is thick enough so that six tharlarion wagons, side by side, could pass down the wall. In addition, there is a guard tower spaced about every fifty yards on the wall. The walls of Ar and Ko-ro-ba are painted white. This is done so that the sun’s glare will reflect off the walls and make it more difficult for attackers to see. At night, beacon fires will be lit on the walls to serve as markers for returning tarnsmen. 

Each city will have a number of gates that provide entrance into the city, the exact number varying city to city. Most cities have at least one, though sometimes more, sun gates. A sun gate is open only from dawn to dusk. At night, it is much more difficult to enter or exit a city.

Some cities do have night gates for such evening entrances and exits though such gates are scrutinized carefully. Some cities may also have additional gates such as secret gates or restricted gates. For example, Ar has about forty public gates and an additional number of other gates. There is also a secret entrance into Ar through a Dar-Kosis pit outside of the city. 

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The City-State – City Construction

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Only free people are permitted to construct cities on Gor, although Port Kar was an exception. Port Kar was almost completely built by slave labor. Construction is normally limited to the Builder’s Caste. Unfortunately there is not much information given on this Caste or construction matters on Gor. We do know that Goreans possess advanced technology in the the field of architecture.

Many city buildings are cylinders, some as tall as one thousand feet. This would be roughly equivalent to a one hundred story building on Earth. Girders, frame steel and timber iron are used to construct these cylinders. These materials are created in the iron shops of Gor. Granite is also a common construction material.

There are quarries in different areas of Gor that provide this granite. There are even quarry galleys that help transport granite via a river or Thassa. The spring time sees the highest prices for granite as it is the busiest time of the year for construction. A typical granite building stone is a rectangular piece, six inches by six inches by eighteen inches. Brick is another common construction material, created in large kilns within the cities.

In Ar, the Hinrabian family own a major kiln business that provides many of the bricks used in Ar. In the cities of the southern hemisphere of Gor, flat, narrow bricks are very common in building construction. Wood, an inexpensive construction material, is used in many cities though it is more prone to the dangers of fire. The northern forests of Gor are the primary source of timber throughout much of Gor. 

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The City-State – Time

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Most cities maintain their own calendars, often naming the years according to the name of the city ruler. For example, it might be the seventh year of the Administrator Hector of Thentis. A number of cities though have adopted the calendar system of the city of Ar. Ar’s calendar is denoted “Contasta Ar” which means from the founding of Ar, over 10,000 years ago. It does not maintain its calendar according to its rulers.

Most calendars are calculated from vernal equinox to vernal equinox though some cities, like Turia, calculate their calendars from summer solstice to summer solstice. Most cities have their own names for the months of the year though they generally agree upon the names of four specific months, connected to the equinoxes and solstices. These include En’Kara (the vernal equinox), Se’Kara (the autumnal equinox), En’Var (the summer solstice) and Se’Var (the winter solstice). Again, some cities have adopted the names of the months used by Ar. 

Within each city, there are often time bars that are rung to signal each Ahn. An Ahn is the Gorean equivalent of an Earth hour though it is longer than an hour. An Ahn is generally about 72 Earth minutes long. There are 20 Ahn in a Gorean day, and that day is the same length as an Earth day. In most cities, the Ahns are all of the same length. Yet, in some cities, the length of an Ahn varies. In those cities, they assign ten Ahn to the daytime and ten Ahn to the nighttime. Thus, the length of each Ahn will vary according to the season. For example, during the summer, a daytime Ahn will be longer than a night time Ahn. 

Each city also celebrates its own list of holidays each year. Different cities may celebrate the same holiday at different times. The Planting Feast of Sa-Tarna is a complex holiday celebrated by most Gorean cities, including Ar. It is celebrated early in the growing season, timed to occur when all three moons are full, and it is basically a prayer to insure a good harvest.

Kajuralia, also known as the Holiday of Slaves or Festival of the Slaves, occurs in most northern cities once a year except for Port Kar. The date differs from city to city. In some cities, it is celebrated on the last day of the Twelfth Passage Hand. But, in Ar and other cities, it is celebrated on the last day of the fifth month, the day before the Love Feast.

The “Love Feast” is the common name for the Fifth Passage Hand. It occurs in late summer and is the greatest period for the sale of slaves. This Hand is also a time of great feasting, tarn races and games. In many cities the Twelfth Passage Hand is a time of carnival, just before the more sober period of the Waiting Hand. Some cities also celebrate a holiday on the birthday of the city ruler. 

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The City-State – Coinage

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Each city generally mints its own coinage, the mint often housed within the city’s Central Cylinder. 

“.., a coin is a way in which a government or ruler certifies that a given amount of precious metal is involved in a transaction. It saves weighing and testing each coin. The coin, in a sense, is an object whose worth or weight, in standardized quantities, is certified upon it, and guaranteed, so to speak, by an issuing authority.”

Kajira of Gor, p.12

Coins are created, by hand, one at a time. A warmed piece of metal is placed between the two halves of a die. Each half of the die is etched with a word, letter, symbol or picture. Most commonly, one half of the die has the initials of the city of its origin and the other half has the image of a tarsk or tarn. A hammer then strikes the die cap, impressing the etchings into the soft metal. The metal will then be removed and allowed to cool into hardness. 

Each city also sets their own currency exchange rates. These rates are not standardized across Gor and thus vary from city to city. But, there are certain coins from certain cities, that are respected and most other cities will accept them as legal tender. Such coins include the gold tarn disks of Ar, Ko-ro-ba and Port Kar, and the silver tarsk of Tharna.

The currency of most cities includes the tarsk bit, the copper tarsk, the silver tarsk and the gold tarn. The tarsk bit is the lowest valued coin. A copper tarsk is worth about four to twenty tarsk bits. A silver tarsk is worth about ten to one hundred copper tarsks. A gold tarn is worth generally ten silver tarsks. There is also a double gold tarn, worth twice a normal tarn disk. Business can also be conducted by notes, letters of credit, drafts and checks. Paper currency does not exist on Gor. 

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The City-State – Caste System

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Each city has its own Caste system in place and each Caste is tied to one’s Home Stone. Unless you are an Assassin, you cannot have a Caste unless you belong to a Home Stone. There are no worldwide Castes on Gor. The Warrior Caste of Ar is separate from the Warrior Caste of Ko-ro-ba, the Scribe Caste of Turia is separate from the Scribe Caste of Treve.

Each Caste in a city is governed by its own High Council, possesses its own Caste Code and has its own training and/or apprentice program. Though such matters are likely very similar from city to city, there will be some differences as well. Almost the only time that the Castes of different cities meet to discuss general Caste matters is at the four Sardar Fairs.

At the Fairs, Caste members of different cities will often meet to share information. This is especially true of those Castes that invent items such as the Physician and Builder Castes. The Scribe Caste also meets at these Fairs and often try to pass rules of standardisation but they are mostly rejected. 

“I have little doubt but what the caste structure contributes considerably to the stability of Gorean society. Among other things it reduces competitive chaos, social and economic, and prevents the draining of intelligence and ambition into a small number of envied, prestigious occupations.” 

Fighting Slave of Gor, p.211

The Caste system has a vital role in the proper functioning of a Gorean city. One’s Caste is much more than simply one’s profession. Your Caste provides certain privilieges as well sich as Caste Sanctuary or charity. Your social life often revolves around your Caste as well.

Caste members become very close to each other and the welfare of the Caste takes priority over the individual ambitions of its members. This sense of loyalty is very strong, nearly as strong as one’s loyalty to one’s Home Stone. 

For more information on the Caste System, see:

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The City-State – Law

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“There is a saying on Gor that the laws of a city extend no further than its walls.”

Outlaw of Gor, p.50

This is not fully accurate as each city does extend its hegemony over a certain territory outside their city walls. The laws of one city generally do not extend to the jurisdiction of another city. For example, your own city will provide you protection against creditors fom another city.

Tarn, tharlarion or infantry patrols often monitor the tenuous borders of a city’s claimed territory and either question, detain or kill non-citizens trying to enter their lands. Goreans are generally xenophobic and in fact the Gorean word for “stranger” is the same word as the one for “enemy.” Context is used to differentiate between the two terms. 

“Goreans are not unaware that there may exist such things as familiar enemies and friendly strangers.”

Savages of Gor, p.242

Trying to enter a city, without specific permission, is often considered a capital crime, punishable by impalement. Guards monitor the various gates into the cities and often question intended visitors. In some cities, a citizens approaching his own city may make a hand gesture, a “sign” of the city. It seems likely that this “sign” is only known to citizens. 

There are two primary court systems in the cities of Gor, that of the civil government and that of the Initiate Caste. Each of these court systems possesses their own buildings to handle their legal matters, such as a Cylinder of Justice. The areas of their jurisdiction are sometimes vague though the Initiates claim supreme authority in all matters.

The amount of actual involvement of the Initiates in each city will vary depending on the Caste’s power in that specific city. They obviously have a stronger hold in some areas than others. For the most part, they will definitely claim jurisdiction in any religious related matter. They will ignore petty matters that they feel are beneath their worry. 

In a city, you are most likely to encounter the legal officials of the civil government, be it the forces of the Ubar or Administrator. These legal officials are commonly referred to as magistrates and there are a variety of different types of magistrates. As legal matters appear to fall under the purview of the Scribe Caste, lawyers being a subcaste of the Scribe Caste, it seems likely that most magistrates also belong to the Scribe Caste.

Magistrates often wear special robes and fillets, ribbons, to denote their office. They may also carry a wand of their office and some of those wands may carry concealed blades. Some of the different types of magistrates on Gor include aediles, archons, praetors, prefects and prefects. These terms are ancient Greek or Roman terms though their meanings have changed some on Gor.

Executioners are another type of magistrate and other types may exist as well. The books do not explicitly describe the duties or differences between most of these magistrate types. Magistrates do appear to be able to act as ex officio witnesses who can certify the legality of certain matters. They also appear able to act as judge and jury in certain matters as well. 

Merchant law is the only common law that often extends among many different cities. This permits commerce to exist much more easily on Gor. There are even Merchant magistrates who administer and enforce Merchant law.

These magistrates belong to the Merchant Caste and not the Scribe Caste. They wear white robes, trimmed with gold and purple. Merchant law does not cover all aspects of commerce. For example, patents and copyrights only exist on a city level and do not extend to other cities. Thus, many manufacturers, writers, and other creators may keep their materials in code to prevent theft and copying. 

For more information on the law, see Scroll #2, Laws and Legal Principles.

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The City-State – Official Matters

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City Flag: Cities will possess their own flag and colors. Unfortunately the books give very little information on the flags of Gor though they do mention a couple city colors. For example, the color of Cos is blue. 

City Anthem: Some cities have an official anthem that is sung during official and/or public events. The subject matter of the songs may vary though commonly they may detail special military victories, commemorate important historical figures, or sing the general praises of the city. These songs may be revised if important new events occur. 

Gorean Foot: This is a Gorean unit of measurement that is ½ inch longer than an Earth foot. At the Sardar Mountains, there is a metal rod used to standardize the length of the Gorean Foot. Each city possesses their own official metal rod that standardizes the measurement within their city. This rod would have originally been calibrated with the rod at the Sardar. Any Merchant can get his own personal metal rod calibrated against the city’s rod. 

Weight and Stone: A Weight is a Gorean unit of measurement equal to about 40 Earth pounds. A Weight is comprised of 10 Stones, another Gorean unit of measurement, and each Stone is equal to about 4 Earth pounds. At the Sardar Mountains, there is a metal cylinder used to standardize the measurement of the Stone. Each city possesses their own official cylinder that standardizes the measurement within their city. The cylinder would have originally been calibrated with the one at the Sardar. Any Merchant can get his own personal metal cylinder calibrated against the city’s cylinder. 

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The City-State – Government

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There are a limited number of governmental forms in the Gorean cities. The cities may be led by an Administrator, Ubar, Ubara, Tatrix or Regent. The Administrator is the most common ruler of Gorean cities. The Administrator is a civil executive who rules for a predetermined term of office.

He rules in conjunction with a High Council. Dependent on the city, the High Council may either elect or appoint the Administrator to his position. An Administrator must commonly be a member of a High Caste and may be a man or a woman. Lara once ruled Tharna as its Administrator. In the myths of the First Knowledge, the Low Castes are taught that if a member of the Low Castes ever comes to rule a city, then that city would meet great misfortune.

Thus, it is very rare for a Low Caste person to ever rise to the position of Administrator. Kron, a Metal Worker, is one of the exceptions. He rose to eventually become the Administrator of Tharna, upon the abdication of Lara. Administrators wear a brown robe of state, a very simple and humble robe. 

The High Council usually consists of only members of the High Castes and they are elected to their position by members of the High Caste. Like Administrators, Council members are elected for a specified term of office. Low Castes do not possess a right to vote. Despite this disenfranchisement though does not mean the the opinions of the Low Castes are simply ignored.

Of all the Low Castes, the Merchant Caste has the greatest influence on governmental matters, such as elections. Like on Earth, money can purchase power and influence on Gor. In addition, those seeking political office realize that the Low Castes need to be appeased or there can be serious trouble. Thus, such men will try to seek the favor of the Merchants and other Low Castes.

For example, they might host gladiatorial games, tarn races or feasts to acquire a better reputation with the common people. This favor seeking will continue past the election period, intended to continue the appeasement of the common man. 

There are two basic types of dictatorial monarchs on Gor, the civil and the military. The civil monarch is the Tatrix, a female ruler who does not belong to the Warrior Caste. She rules absolutely within her city.

A Tatrix is not elected to her position but instead simply assumes power, supported by loyal followers. Tharna, Corcyrus and Port Olni were all once ruled by a Tatrix. The military monarch is a Ubar, a man, or a Ubara, a woman.

The Gorean word “Ubar” literally means a “war-chief” and it is part of the Warrior Caste Code. The term is also sometimes used rather loosely as well, almost slang to refer to a masterful person. For example, a slave may sometimes refer to her Master as her Ubar. 

Many wrongfully assume that a Ubar only seizes power during wartime. In fact, a civil crisis can also lead to the ascension of power by a Ubar. 

“In such times, of course, in the light of the failures and ineffectuality of an inept civilian administration, it is not unknown for military men, seeing what must be done, simply responding to the imperatives of survival, to take power and attempt to instill the will, the discipline and order without which catastrophe cannot be diverted.” 

Mercenary of Gor, p.264

During a war or crisis, the Ubar rules absolutely. They can make or change any law that they wish though they are still subject to their own laws. Ubars wear purple robes, a color long associated with royalty on Earth. Their robes are far from simple or humble. The territory claimed by a Ubar or Ubara is often referred to as a Ubarate. 

According to the Warrior Caste Codes, the Ubar is supposed to relinquish his position once the war or crisis has ended. But that does not always occur. This can lead to two different situations. First, the Warriors that supported the Ubar may choose to withdraw their support of the Ubar and might even kill him.

Second, the Warriors might instead choose to continue to support the Ubar and he will remain in power. Marlenus, Ubar of Ar, assumed power during a Valley War. When the war ended, he refused to step down but his Warriors and the people of Ar supported him so he remained as Ubar. Some Goreans consider such Ubars to be tyrants, absolute rulers with megalomaniacal objectives. 

A Ubara is a female member of the Warrior Caste who may either be the Free Companion of a Ubar or who assumes power on her own. For example, Talena, daughter of Marlenus, became the Ubara of Ar in Magicians of Gor. Being Ubara is the highest position that any woman can attain on Gor, a position as high as any man can achieve. 

“To be Ubara of Ar was the most glorious thing to which a woman might aspire. It meant she would be the richest and most powerful woman on Gor, that armies and navies, and tarn cavalries, could move upon her very word, that the taxes of an empire the wealthiest on Gor could be laid at her feet, that the most precious of gems and jewelries might be hers, that she would be the most envied woman on the planet.” 

Hunters of Gor, p.300-301

A Regent substitutes as a ruler of a city while the true ruler is away for some reason. For example, when Marlenus left Ar to make a punitive raid against Treve, he appointed Gneieus Lelius, High Councilor and First Minister, as Regent of Ar. The books do not specify the powers of Regents and whether they possess the same power as the absent ruler or whether there are some restrictions on their powers. 

A city ruler may possess certain regalia indicative of their position and power. This could include a crown of Tur leaves, a medallion bearing a replica of the city’s Home Stone, or a signet ring bearing the city’s symbol. The regalia bestows great power on its wielder, even if they are not the actual ruler. For example, Marlenus gives the signet ring of Ar to Verna, a panther girl ruler and tells her the power it will provide to her. 

“With that, he said, you are safe in the realm of Ar. With that you can command the power of the city. This is as the word of the Ubar. With this you can buy supplies. With this you can command soldiers. Any who come upon you and see this ring will know that behind you stands the power of Ar.” 

Hunters of Gor, p.301

A city government will possess a bureaucracy of civil servants such as ministers, councillors and much more. These individuals occupy positions and such positions do not form Castes. For example, the guardsmen of a city do not form a Caste of Guardsmen. They simply occupy a position within that city.

A city may have Ambassador to handle their foreign relations. Such Ambassadors are considered to possess diplomatic immunity and are thus immune from hindrance or harm while they are in a foreign city. Heralds, special messengers, possess a similar immunity. Heralds wear a gold slash on the left temple of their helmet to denote their status. 

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The City-State – Population

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

The Gorean books do not provide statistics for the human population of Gor and they provide few statistics for the populations of any of the cities of Gor. Census taking does not seem to be performed in Gorean cities.

We do have some estimated figures for the city of Ar and we can try to extrapolate from those figures the populations of other cities as well. As Ar is considered to be possibly the largest city on Gor, we can assume that all other cities have a smaller population than Ar.

Ar is thought to contain two to three million citizens. It also contains about a quarter million other free residents, non-citizens. Finally, there are about a quarter million slaves, a higher percentage than the normal Gorean average. In most cities, only 2% to 3% of the female population are slaves. 10% of that number would constitute the average number of male slaves.

There are some exceptions such as Ar and Tharna. In Tharna, after the revolt against the Silver Masks, nearly all of the women in their city are now slaves. 

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The City-State – Citizenship

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

To become a citizen of a city, and thus claim its Home Stone as your own, is more than a matter of birth. When you reach the age of intellectual majority, you must actively seek citizenship and its concomitant rights. The actual age of one’s intellectual majority is never stated in the books and it may vary from city to city. Circumstantial evidence in the books indicate that it may commonly be around 16 years old.

Each city has its own requirements for obtaining citizenship but there are some commonalities. Most citizenship ceremonies include an oath of allegiance to the city that includes either the touching or even kissing of the Home Stone. This will likely be the only time in one’s life that one gets to touch the Home Stone. In some ceremonies, there may also be a sharing of bread, fire and salt.

There may also be prerequisites to this oath. You might need some existing citizens to vouch for you, citizens who are not related by blood to you. You might also need to pass certain tests, likely concerning such matters as the history and laws of the city. In addition, you might also face questioning concerning your worthiness to be a citizen.

If you meet all of the requirements, then you may receive the laurel wreath and mantle of citizenship, with all of its concomitant rights. The Gorean word “civitatis” means “of the city of” and refers to someone being a citizen of a city. For example, “civitatis Trevis” essentially means that one is a citizen of Treve. 

You do not automatically retain your citizenship throughout your life. 

“Citizenship, or its retention, on other than a nominal basis, in some cities, is contingent on such things as attending public ceremonies, such as an official semi-annual taking of auspices, and participating in numerous public assemblies, some of which are called on short notice.”

Dancer of Gor, p.302-303

Citizenship is considered more a privilege than a right. Citizens are considered to owe allegiance to their city and thus certain duties are owed to that city. Political apathy is not permitted. Another duty is that the citizen must work in his Caste, though this duty applies more to men than women. 

“A man who refused to practice his livelihood or strove to alter status without the consent of the Council of High Castes was, by definition, an outlaw and subject to impalement.”

Tarnsman of Gor, p.46

This applies to women as well though more often the latter part rather than the former. In general, such outlaws are first exiled from their city, or flee on their own, and then will face impalement if they dare return to their city. Being an outlaw is not an envious life. You are cut off from all support structures, you have few if any friends, and must strive hard simply to exist. Few Goreans willing opt to become outlaws. 

It is possible to change your citizenship and swear loyalty to a new Home Stone. But, this is a rare matter on Gor. One’s loyalty to your Home Stone is very strong and even if one objects to certain aspects of your city, the loyalty remains. In addition, many Goreans do not travel much so they have little contact with other cities.

To move to a new city would mean a separation from your relatives and Caste members. Such a separation runs contrary to the common norms of Gor. When someone does change their citizenship, it is often because they are fleeing some negative consequence in their original city. For example, someone fleeing creditors may change citizenship as many cities offer protection from foreign creditors. 

A family can disown one of their own members through an oath of disownment. This is an irreversible ceremony and is not invoked without careful consideration. The victim loses all ties to their family and Caste.

This ceremony exists within many cities and it is also part of the Warrior Caste Codes. For example, in Hunters of Gor, Marlenus disowned Talena according to the rites of Ar and also his Caste Codes. To do so, he placed one hand on the hilt of his sword, the other on his city medallion, and swore the oath of disownment. It may be possible for a member of the Warrior Caste to simply swear upon the hilt of his sword to complete this oath of disownment without the need of the city rite. It is unknown if other Castes have similar oaths of disownments in their Caste Codes. 

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The City-State – Home Stone

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

The heart and soul of each city is its Home Stone, a concept that is said to be difficult for those of Earth to fully comprehend. The closest analogue on Earth would be a country’s flag though that analogy is lacking in many respects. In simplest terms, a Home Stone is a stone. It can be any type of stone, of any size, shape, color and material. It can be very plain, intricately carved or even adorned with rare gems. 

“How does a city obtain a Home Stone?” I asked. “Men decide that she shall have one.” Said Tab. “Yes,” I said, “that is how it is that a city obtains a Home Stone.”(Raiders of Gor, p.251)

Some cities, like Ar, have ancient Home Stones while others, such as Port Kar, have only possessed their Home Stone for maybe twenty years. A city’s Home Stone is most commonly kept at the top of the highest cylinder in the city, though it will be well defended. A city can not be completely destroyed if its Home Stone still survives. When the Priest-Kings destroyed Ko-ro-ba, Matthew Cabot retained the Home Stone so the city actually still survived and could later be rebuilt. The theft of a Home Stone is considered a great glory as it will ruin an enemy city. 

Goreans devote intense loyalty to their Home Stone. They support and defend those who share that Home Stone with them. Even rivals and enemies who share a Home Stone would work together against any threat to that Home Stone. 

“Yet for these stones, and on account of these stones, these seemingly inauspicious, simple objects, cities have been built, and burned, armies have clashed, strong men have wept, empires have risen and fallen.”

Magicians of Gor, p.485

Goreans stand when they discuss their Home Stone because it is considered an issue of honor. If a man failed to stand, he might even be killed for his offense. 

For more information on the Home Stone, see:

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The City-State

This is part of the work on the City-State Organisation in Gor

“The cities of Gor are numerous and pluralistic. Each has its own history, customs and traditions.” 

Slave Girl of Gor, p.108

Hundreds of cities exist on Gor though many of them were never named or described in the books. We have the names of some Gorean cities, such as Talmont, Cardonicus and Piedmont, but little or no description of them. We also have partial descriptions of some cities but do not have their names.

For example, in Tarnsman of Gor, there is reference to the Twelve Tributary Cities of Ar. These twelve cities were conquered by Ar and their Home Stones were kept within the Central Cylinder of Ar. None of these cities are named and their locations are also unknown. Their Home Stones are eventually returned to them but we never learn any further information about them. 

Some of the Gorean cities are collectively known by certain labels, such as the High Cities or the Tower Cities. These two terms are not explicitly defined in the books but we can speculate as to their meanings. The Tower Cities most likely refer to those Gorean cities that primarily consist of cylinder buildings, those towering structures common to many of their cities.

This would include such cities as Ko-ro-ba, Ar, Tharna, and many more. The High Cities are more difficult to define or categorize. Cities that are specified as High Cities in the books include Ar, Ko-ro-ba, Treve, and Thentis. This term may thus refer to the most important cities on Gor but that is only supposition. It does not refer to altitude as only two of those cities are mountainous cities. 

Gorean cities are generally considered “city-states,” similar to those of the ancient Greeks. The Greek word for “city-state” was “polis” and our English word “politics” derives from this Greek term. On Gor, a city-state consists of not only the city itself but also whatever surrounding territory that city can exercise its control over.

Gor does not consist of countries or nations such as exist on Earth. Cities, not nations, are the important political divisions on Gor. Much of Gor consists of unclaimed territory, land upon which no one currently extends their influence. In addition, exact territorial borders do not exist on Gor. Territories are dynamic, expanding and shrinking over time, dependent upon the fortunes of the different cities. Goreans do not bicker over exact borders. 

The cities of Gor are fiercely independent of each other. They often war upon one another, raiding caravans and engaging in small raids. Yet, full-scale wars are rare. It is unusual for cities to ally together though there have been some significant exceptions. In Tarnsman of Gor, about one hundred cities united, under the leadership of Master Assassin Pa-Kur, to attack Ar. That might have been the greatest alliance ever seen on Gor yet it did not last more than a month or so. The “Jason Marshall” trilogy mentions two other important alliances, the Salerian Confederation and the Vosk League, that continue to exist. The Salerian Confederation saw the alliance of four cities on the Olni River. The Vosk League saw the alliance of nineteen towns on the Vosk River. 

Cities are vitally important to Goreans, far greater than the average Earth person considers his own city or country. 

“For the Gorean, though he seldom speaks of these things, a city is more than brick and marble, cylinders and bridges. It is not simply a place, a geographical location in which men have seen fit to build their dwellings, a collection of structures where they may most conveniently conduct their affairs.”

Outlaw of Gor, p.22

A city is considered to be almost a living entity, one with a past, present and future. 

“For them a city is almost a living thing, or more than a living thing. It is an entity with a history, as stones and rivers do not have history; it is an entity with a tradition, a heritage, customs, practices, character, intentions, hopes. When a Gorean says, for example, that he is “of” Ar, or Ko-ro-ba, he is doing a great deal more than informing you of his place of residence.”

Outlaw of Gor, p.22

“The Goreans generally, though there are exceptions, particularly the Caste of Initiates, do not believe in immortality. Accordingly, to be “of” a city is, in a sense, to have been part of something less perishable than oneself, something divine in the sense of undying. Of course, as every Gorean knows, cities too are mortal, for cities can be destroyed as well as men. And this perhaps makes them love their cities the more, for they know that their city, like themselves, is subject to mortal termination.” 

Outlaw of Gor, p.22

Cities instil great loyalty and pride within their citizenry. As many Goreans rarely travel, their city may be the only location they ever truly know. 

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The City-State Organisation in Gor

This posts were compiled based on the information from Luthers Scroll #68 – Gorean City-State

In order to provide an easier experience to read this extensive information, I’ve divided the scroll in the following parts:

“I gazed down upon the city. In such places came together the complexities and the poverties, the elementalities and the richnesses of the worlds. In such places were to be found the rare, precious habitats of culture, the astonishing, moving delights of art and music, the truths of theater and literature, the glories and allegories of architecture, bespeaking the meanings of peoples, man-made symbols like mountain ranges; in them, too, were to be found iron and silver, and gold and steel, the chairs of finance and the thrones of power. I gazed at the shining city. How startling it seemed. Such places were like magnets to man; they call to him like gilded sirens; they lure him inward to their dazzling wonders, bewitching him with their often so meretricious whispered promises; they were symbols of races. In them were fortunes to be sought, and fortunes to be won, and fortunes to be lost; in them there were crowds, and loneliness; in them success trod the same pavements as failure; in their plazas hope jostled with despair, and meaning ate at the same table with meaningless. In such places were perhaps the best and worst that man could do, his past and future, his pain and pleasure, his darkness and light, come together in a single focus.” 

Mercenaries of Gor, p.256-257

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The Caste of Peasants

“Do not be sensitive that you are only of the Peasants,” said the woman. “There is much to be said for the caste.”. 

Witness of Gor, p.245


The Caste of Peasants is commonly ranked the lowest of all Castes, at the very bottom of the caste hierarchy. Because of such, many higher castes, both High and Low Castes, discriminate against them, feeling a certain superiority to the lowly Peasants. But, there are some other factors to consider as well. First, even as the lowest of Castes, Peasants are still higher than some others. Free people who do not possess a Caste, such as those engaged in gardening or domestic service, and outlaws, who have repudiated their Caste, are considered lower than the Peasant. Slaves, of course, are also lower than Peasants.

Second, we must note the vast importance of the Peasant Caste in the functioning of Gorean society. 

“Economically, the base of the Gorean life was the free peasant, which was perhaps the lowest but undoubtedly the most fundamental caste, and the staple crop was a yellow grain called Sa-Tarna, or Life-Daughter.”

Tarnsman of Gor, p.43

Without the food provided by Peasants, the cities and towns would be unable to exist as they do. Agriculture is at the heart of Gorean civilization.

The Peasants certainly understand their importance and they, and others, regard them as the “Ox on which the Home Stone Rests.” Consider the significance of such a label.

That caste is sometimes referred to as the ‘ox on which the Home Stone rests.’ I am not clear as to what a Home Stone is, but I have gathered that it, whatever it might be, is regarded as being of great importance on this world. So, if that is the case, and the Peasants is indeed the caste upon which the Home Stone rests, then it would seem, at least in my understanding, to be a very important caste. In any event, it would seem to me that the Peasants is surely one of, if not the, most significant of the castes of this world. So much depends upon them! Too, I am sure they do not regard themselves as being the lowest of the castes.” 

Witness of Gor, p.244-45

Like all Castes, Peasants are proud of their profession, knowing the contribution they make to Gorean society. Peasants often have honorifics as well for themselves. 

“A peasant who is actively engaged in agricultural pursuits is spoken of as one who makes fields fruitful. Sometimes this expression is applied, too, to peasants who are not actively engaged in such pursuits, as an honorific appellation.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.206

Few Peasants, like many other Goreans, would desire to change their Caste. There is even a popular tale, sometimes performed by puppets, concerning a Ubar and a Peasant. They decide to switch places for a short time, having grown tired of their usual labors. 

“The Ubar discovers he cannot tax the bosk and the Peasant discovers his grain cannot grow on the stones of the city streets. Each cannot stop being himself, each cannot be the other. In the end, of course, the Ubar returns gratefully to his throne and the peasant, to his relief, manages to return to the fields in time for the spring planting. The fields sing, rejoicing, upon his return. Goreans are fond of such stories. Their castes are precious to them.”

Beasts of Gor, p.47-48

As Peasants are Low Caste, then much that applies to all Low Castes will apply to them as well. They tend to be illiterate, having little use for such skills. They tend to be superstitious, believing in magic and divination, as well as the mystical power of the Priest-Kings and Initiates. It also means that they often will have use names, to protect themselves from sorcerers who might use their true name against them. Peasants possess the First Knowledge and subsequently do not believe in the existence of Earth. Do not assume though that due to their illiteracy and superstitious nature that they are unintelligent.

We should also mention the relationship between the Peasant and the outlaw. Though outlaws remain away from the cities, knowing they risk impalement if they dare enter those cities, they commonly do not have the same worry about entering Peasant villages. 

“The peasant on Gor does not fear outlaws, for he seldom has anything worth stealing, unless it be a daughter. Indeed, the peasant and outlaw on Gor live in an almost unspoken agreement, the peasant tending to protect the outlaw and the outlaw sharing in return some of his plunder and booty with the peasant. The peasant does not regard this as dishonest on his part, or as grasping. It is simply a way of life to which he is accustomed. It is a different matter, of course, if it is explicitly known that the outlaw is from a other than one’s own. In that case he is usually regarded as an enemy, to be reported to the patrols as soon as possible. He is, after all, not of one’s city.”

Outlaw of Gor, p.48-49

As most outlaws do not identify their former city, then it probably would be uncommon for Peasants to report them to the patrols.

“The peasant is a part of the land. He can be like a rock or a tree. Or the lightning that can strike without warning from the dark sky.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.229

Home Stones

Each Peasant possesses a Home Stone, that most significant of items and symbols. In fact, it is thought that Home Stones originated with Peasants. 

“In peasant villages on this world,” he continued, “each hut was originally built around a flat stone which was placed in the center of a circular dwelling. It was carved with the family sign and was called the Home Stone. It was, so to speak, a symbol of sovereignty, or territory, and each peasant, in his own hut, was a sovereign.” 

Tarnsman of Gor, p.26

From this individual practice, it eventually spread to a larger scale, to towns and cities.

“Later,” said my father, “Home Stones were used for villages, and later still for cities. The Home Stone of a village was always placed in the market; in a city, on top of the highest tower.”

Tarnsman of Gor, p.26

Even the simplest of Peasants becomes seemingly transformed with the presence of a Home Stone in his hut. 

“Even a remote hut, far from the paved avenues of a town or city, may have a Home Stone, and therein, in the place of his Home Stone, is the meanest beggar or the poorest peasant a Ubar.” (Magicians of Gor, p.485) The term “Ubar” is used symbolically, to show the great power of the home owner. That owner is the sovereign in his hut. “In this house, this hut, this palace, Thurnus’s was the supremacy. Here he might do as he pleased. His rights in this house, his supremacy in this place, was acknowledged by all guests. They shared the hospitality of his Home Stone.” 

Slave Girl of Gor, p.142

Thus, guests would show the owner respect within such hut. A Peasant can thus be proud, knowing they possess a glorious Home Stone.

Consequently, a Peasant, as would any Gorean, will defend his Home Stone to the death, acquiring a certain ferocity in its defense. 

“Indeed, frequent enough were the stories where even a warrior was overcome by an angry peasant into whose hut he had intruded himself, for in the vicinity of their Home Stones men fight with all the courage, savagery and resourcefulness of the mountain larl. More than one are the peasant fields of Gor which have been freshened with the blood of foolish warriors.”

Outlaw of Gor, p.29

If a Peasant had to abandon his home, carrying away his Home Stone, few, if any, would interfere with his passage. Not even a Warrior would choose to do so, knowing the reserves of power the Peasant would summon to defend his Home Stone.

“indeed, the Peasant is regarded, by those of the cities, as being little more than an ignoble brute, ignorant and superstitious, venal and vicious, a grubber in the dirt, a plodding animal, an ill-tempered beast, something at best cunning and treacherous;”

Raiders of Gor, p.3


Most Peasants live in small villages, which are commonly free villages and not tributary to any town or city. 

“It is not unusual for a Gorean city to have several villages in its vicinity, these customarily supplying it with meat and produce. These villages may or may not be tributary to the city. It is common, of course, for a city to protect those villages, whether they are tributary to the city or not, which make use of its market. If a village markets in a given city, that city, by Gorean custom, stands as its shield, a relationship which, of course, works to the advantage of both the villages and city, the city receiving produce in its markets, the villages receiving the protection of the city’s soldiers.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.111-12

What city would not protect those who are providing its citizens with food? It would only hurt that city if they failed to defend such villages. So, tributary or not, it behooves the city to protect its food supply.

There is a typical shape to most villages and their accompanying fields, like a wheel.

“It stood like most Gorean villages at the hub of its wheel of fields, the fields, striplike, spanning out from it like spokes. Most Gorean peasants live in such villages, many of them palisaded, which they leave in the morning to tend their fields, to which they return at night after their day’s labors.”

Mercenaries of Gor, p.15

Thus, we can see that the village will possess some defenses, such as a wooden palisade. Each Peasant will own and work a certain number of strips of field. With the village at the hub, the Peasants in the fields can identify potential threats before they reach the village. Then, they could retreat back to the village, behind the palisade.

Peasant villages are commonly led by a Caste leader and there is usually a caste council as well. But, only the Caste leader possesses the power to call the council to meet. Like any ruler, being Caste leader is an onerous responsibility.

The caste leader must know many things,” said Thurnus. “It takes many years to learn them, the weather, the crops, animals, men. It is not easy to be caste leader.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.233

“Too, to earn the respect of peasants,” said Thurnus, straightening up, retrieving his staff, his sandal tied, “the caste leader should be strong.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.233

There are provisions by which a Peasant can challenge the Caste leader, to assume his place as the ruler of the village. Now, different villages may have different tests and rituals for such. But, the books do provide some examples for the village of Tabuk’s Ford. First, there is the test of the five arrows. 

“In this the villagers, with the exception of the two contestants, leave the village and the gate is closed. Each contestant carries in the village his bow, the great bow, the peasant bow, and five arrows. He who opens the gate to readmit the villagers is caste leader.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.229

Second, there is the test of knives. 

“In this the two men leave the village and enter, from opposite sides, a darkened wood. He who returns to the village is caste leader.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.229

Third, there may be a battle with staves. 

“We shall subject this matter to grim adjudication. The staff will speak. The wood of our land will decide.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.229

Thurnus, the Caste leader gave his challenger the choice of which test to use. That may not be common practice everywhere.

A typical peasant hut may have a lowered circular floor, that was dug out of the earth, packed down and tiled with stone. It would also possess calked, woven-stick walls. Another typical hut is described in Slave Girl of Gor. 

“My master, with his lieutenants, sat cross-legged in the large, thatched hut of Thurnus. It was high, and conical, and floored with rough planks, set some six or seven feet on poles above the ground, that it might be drier and protected from common insects and vermin. The entrance was reached by a flight of rough, narrow steps. The entrances to many of the huts in the village, similarly constructed, were reached by ladders. Thurnus was caste leader. In the center of the hut was a large flat, circular piece of metal, on which, on legs, might sit braziers or the small, flattish cooking stoves, using pressed, hardened wood, common in the villages north and west of Ar. About the walls were the belongings of the house, in coffers and bales. Elsewhere about the village were storage huts and animal pens. Mats covered the rough planks. From the walls hung vessels and leathers. A smoke hole in the top of the hut permitted the escape of fumes. The hut, probably because of its construction, was not smoky. Also, though it was windowless and had but one door, it was not, at this time of day, dark. Through the straw of its roof and sides there was a considerable, delicate filtering of sunlight. The hut in the summer is light and airy. The frame of such a hut is constructed of Ka-la-na and Tem wood. The roof is rethatched and the walls rewoven every third or fourth year. In the winters, which are not harsh at this latitude, such huts are covered on the outside with painted canvas or, among the richer peasants, with ornamented, painted bosk hides, protected and glossed with oil.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.138

Much will depend on the wealth of the village and its residents.

Besides such huts, villages will have a number of other structures such as barns, equipment sheds and feed sheds.

“These structures were generally painted yellow and trimmed with blue. These colors tend to be cultural for Goreans with respect to housings for domestic animals. Blue and yellow, too, of course, are the colors of slavers. There may be a connection here, for the slave is, of course, regarded as a domestic animal. To be sure, in barns and such the color yellow usually predominates, whereas in the colors of slavers, exhibited in such places as in the blue and yellow canvas covering slave wagons or in the blue and yellow of the tenting of slave pavilions, the blue and yellow is, or tends to be, more equally distributed, almost invariably occurring in stripes.”

Fighting Slave of Gor, p.228

In the winter time, the animals may not remain in their barns and pens. 

“Secondly, it is not unusual either for many peasants to keep animals in the houses, usually verr and bosk, sometimes tarsk, at least in the winter. The family lives in one section of the dwelling, and the animals are quartered in the other.”

Mercenaries of Gor, p.22

“The farmer likes to be appreciated, and to have the importance and value of his work recognized. He thinks of his caste as ‘the ox on which the Home Stone rests.’ Too, of course, he generally prefers to stay where he is. He is fond of the land he knows.”

Dancer of Gor, p.304

Great Farms

Peasants do face one threat that city and town residents generally do not encounter. 

“Accordingly, for various reasons, such as lack of citizenship, an inability to properly exercise it, resulting in effective disenfranchisement, or, most often, a fierce independence, repudiating allegiance to anything save one’s own village, the farmers, or peasantry, are more likely to suffer from the results of cheap competition than their urban brethren. In the last several years, the institution of the ‘great farm,’ with its projected contracts, its organization and planning, its agricultural expertise, and its imbonded labor force has become more common on Gor.” 

Dancer of Gor, p.302-03

These great farms are constantly seeking new land to develop and farm. Thus, they often try to acquire that land from Peasants. 

“Some Gorean farmers own their land, and some share in land owned by a village. It is not unknown for both sorts to receive offers from agents of the ‘Great Farms,’ sometimes owned by individuals, and sometimes by companies, whose capital has been generated by the investments of individuals who are, in effect, stockholders. Many times these offers, which are usually generous, are accepted, with the result that the amount of area under cultivation by the great farms tends to increase. Sometimes, it is said, that cruel and unfair pressure is applied to farmers, or villages, such as threats, or the burning of crops, and such, but I would think that this would surely be the exception rather than the rule. When the great farms can usually achieve their aims, statistically, by legitimate business measures there would be little point in having recourse to irregular inducements. Too, the Gorean peasant tends to be a master of the ‘peasant bow,’ a weapon of unusual accuracy, rapidity of fire, and striking force.”

Dancer of Gor, p.303

If they sell their land, Peasants will move on to seek new land where they can settle and farm.

Such great farms pose a threat to the Peasant Caste, creating competition that could drive the Peasants into poverty. These great farms can sell their products more cheaply than the average Peasant. They may also be able to supply greater quantities than the average Peasant. There is some possible relief though from the cities. For not all cities are enthralled with the concept of the great farms. 

“I think that the cities, on the whole, have mixed feelings about the great farms. Whereas they welcome currently lower prices on produce and greater assurances of its variety and quantities, they also tend to regret the withdrawal or loss of the local peasantry, which provided them not only with a plethora of individual suppliers, tending to generate a free market, complex and competitive, but also with a sphere of intelligence and even defense about the city. An organization of great farms, acting in concert, of course, could reduce competition, and eventually regulate prices rather as they pleased, particularly with regard to staples such as Sa-Tarna and Suls.” 

Dancer of Gor, p.303-04

Thus, the cities do recognize the potential threat to their own community from a monopoly over agricultural products by these great farms.

To protect against this threat, some cities have taken actions to retain Peasants in their vicinity, to make it more attractive for them to want to stay around. 

“Accordingly, some cities have been willing to offer inducements to farmers to remain in their vicinity, such as liberalization of the requirements of citizenship, the performance of rural sacrifices, the holding of games in rural areas, subsidizing the touring of theatrical and musical troupes in the countryside, special holidays honoring the agricultural caste, which may be celebrated in the city, and so on. In many cases, these inducements appear to have been effective.”

Dancer of Gor, p.304

Such a situation thus benefits all involved.

“The Gorean peasant, like Goreans in general, has a fierce sense of honor.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.228

Caste Codes

Like most of the other Castes of the books, information on the Caste Codes of the Peasants is scant. There are only two primary Code issues addressed in the books. The first deals with where Peasants may settle and the second deals with the use of another man’s property. The latter receives some detailed explanation as it lies at the heart of a significant incident in one of the books. This explanation may also show how other Caste Code provisions, for other Castes, may be interpreted as well. Please also note that Caste Codes may vary from village to village, as do the Caste Codes of the various cities.

The Peasant Caste Codes discourage Peasants from moving to cities. If they must leave their land or village, they are urged to find new land, or a new village to settle. 

“They seldom attempt to enter the cities, where they might eventually contribute to the formation of a discontented urban proletariat. Their caste codes discourage it. Also, of course, they would generally not be citizens of the city and in the city there would be little opportunity for them to practice their caste crafts. Also, many cities, save those interested, for one reason or another, in increasing their population, for better of for worse, tend not be enthusiastic about accepting influxes of the indigent. Such have contributed, through economic hardship, or treachery, to the diminishment, and even fall, of more than one city.”

Dancer of Gor, p.303

Now, as the quote uses the word “discourage” then it seems this is not a prohibition but rather a strong recommendation. Thus, a Peasant who moved to a city would not actually violate a prohibitive Code provision but would rather be going against custom and tradition.

In Slave Girl of Gor, Bran Loort, a young male Peasant, wanted to challenge Thurnus, the Caste Leader. So, Bran chose to deliberately insult Thurnus, to goad him into action. To that end, Bran and his friends captured the slave Dina and had their way with her. There is nothing to indicate that such an action was necessary for the issuance of such a challenge. Bran probably could have challenged Thurnus even without the insult. Bran though may have been persuaded by another, namely Melina, to launch the insult first.

Now, slave rape is relatively common, and often accepted, in Peasant villages. 

“Sometimes the boys had caught us, Thurnus’s girls, or those of others, too, and roped us together and raped us in the furrows of the fields, but it had been done in the bullying rowdyism of their youth, having slave girls at their mercy. There had been no intent of insult, or umbrage, in it. This sort of rape is not uncommon in a peasant village. It is usually taken for granted and ignored, save perhaps by the abused girls, but they are only slaves.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.227

So, in of itself, slave rape does not create an insult. But, there is a specific Caste Code provision that deals with the use of another man’s property. 

“Neither a plow, nor a bosk, nor a girl may one man take from another, saving with the owner’s saying of it,” quoted Thurnus.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.226

Though that seems rather straight forward, its interpretation is not. For not all slave rape violates this Code provision. And the key is the definition of “take.” 

“The rapes of Verr Tail and Radish, interestingly, had not counted as code breaches, though in neither case had explicit permission for their conquest been granted by Thurnus; such permission, in such cases, was implicit in the customs of the community; it did not constitute a ‘taking from’ but a brief use of, an ‘enjoyment of,’ without the intent to do injury to the honor of the master; ‘taking from,’ in the sense of the codes, implies the feature of being done against the presumed will of the master, of infringing his rights, more significantly, of offending his honor.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.228

But, what Bran Loort and his friends did to Dina went beyond the permissible. 

“What Bran Loort and his fellows had done exceeded the normal rights of custom, the leniencies and tacit permissions of a peasant community; commonly the codes are invisible; they exist not to control human life, but to make it possible.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.228

Thurnus believed that there had been a Caste Code breach. He could clearly see Bran’s motivation and Bran did nothing to hide his intent. 

“In what Bran Loort had done, insult had been intended.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.228

Bran had intentionally attempted to offend the honor of Thurnus. Thurnus would subsequently accept the challenge, defeat Bran and exile him. Though it should be noted as well that in a subsequent book, Thurnus would remove the sentence of exile and allow Bran back into Tabuk’s Ford.

This second Caste Code provision does raise an interesting issue over the interpretation of Caste Code provisions. What may seem apparent may not always be so. The interpretation and definition of key terms within a Caste Code provision could alter its actual meaning.

Without knowing any more than just the words of the latter Caste Code provision, few, if any, would have known how Peasants defined the term “take.” It is not obvious from the wording of the Caste Code provision. This could apply to any other Caste Codes as well. So, just be careful when trying to interpret Caste Code provisions that you do not make assumptions that may not be correct.

“Begone, slut!” said a peasant.
The free woman gasped, and hurried away. Peasants are not always tolerant of gentlewomen.”

Magicians of Gor, p.49

Peasant Clothes & Caste Colors

Peasant clothes are generally very simple garments, though dependent as well on the wealth of the Peasant. Rep-cloth and the wool of the hurt are the most common fabrics. For example, peasant women may wear a rep-cloth veil. They are also likely to wear only a single veil, rather the the multiples used by many women of the cities.

One peasant’s tunic was described as white, likely bleached, and sleeveless, of the wool of the hurt and falling to the knees. Some peasant garments may be hooded as well. Few, if any, of their garments appear to bear bright colors and many are mentioned as being white or bleached.

So, what is the Caste color or colors of the Peasant’s Caste? Many might say it is brown as that is what is listed on many websites. But, is it correct? Has anyone ever seen a quote from the books that states the Caste color is brown? I have never seen such a quote and I have yet to find anyone who can provide such a quote. This appears to be an online myth without substantiation. We can speculate as to the Caste color but the books apparently lack a definitive quote.

Some might think it is brown because Administrators wear brown robes, which are said to be the humblest garment in the city. Would not a Peasant be of the humblest caste? But then we also know that Peasants use yellow and blue for their barns and such. Could their colors thus be blue and yellow, similar to the Slaver Caste? Or could their Caste color be white, or off-white, as there are multiple references to them wearing bleached garments. We can only speculate.

“The Gorean peasant is a resolute, strong fellow, upright and stubborn, who prides himself on his land and sovereignty.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.112

Weapons of the Peasant

Within most villages there are not any Warriors to protect the residents. A village may gain the protection of a nearby town or city, but such assistance may not always be present when it is most needed. Cities generally do not leave garrisons at every village within their region. And the fierce independence of many villages makes it beneficial for Peasants to be able to defend themselves. To that end, many male Peasants are proficient with two weapons, the staff and the long bow. Such weapons enable them to adequately defend themselves against many different threats.

The staff, sometimes referred to as the great staff, is commonly six feet or more in length and two to three inches in width. Besides its utility as a weapon, staves can serve other useful functions as well. 

“With respect to the staff, it serves of course not only as a weapon but, more usually, and more civilly, as an aid in traversing terrain of uncertain footing. Too, it is often used, yoke like, fore and aft of its bearer, to carry suspended, balanced baskets.”

Magicians of Gor, p.245

A staff can be an excellent, nimble weapon in the hands of a skilled Peasant. There are even some skilled Peasants who are capable of being an equal opponent against many swordsmen. Thurnock of Port Kar, one of Tarl Cabot’s men, is such an individual. He also taught Tarl how to wield a staff. Thurnus, the Caste Leader of Tabuk’s Ford, is another highly skilled Peasant with a staff.

Thurnus provides a valuable lesson in the use of the staff to some of the youths of his village. 

“A good staff,” said Thurnus, “must be one with which one can thrust,” and, saying this, looking at one young man, he drove the staff, like a spear into the ribs of another, “and slice,” added Thurnus, who then smote the first fellow, whose attention was now on his struck fellow, along the side of the face.

The first fellow fell in the dirt clutching his ribs. I had little doubt that one or more had been broken; the second fellow lay inert in the dirt, blood at the side of his head.

“But,” said Thurnus, ” a good staff must also be strong.” The young men stood, tensed, five of them, and Bran Loort. “Come at me,” said Thurnus to another of the men.

Enraged the fellow charged. Thurnus was behind him and smote down, shattering the heavy staff across the fellow’s back. He lay in the dirt, unable to rise. The staff had been more than two inches in diameter.

“That staff, you see,” said Thurnus, instructing the younger men, “was flawed. It was weak.” He gestured to the fellow lying in the dirt, his face contorted with pain, scratching at the dust. “It did not even break his back,” said Thurnus. “Such a staff may not be relied upon in combat.” He turned to one of the four young men, and Bran Loort.

“Give me another staff,” he said to one of them. The young man looked at him and, frightened, threw him the staff, not wanting to come close to him. “A better weapon,” said Thurnus, hefting the staff. “Come here,” he said. Uneasily the lad approached. “The first lesson you must learn,” said Thurnus, swiftly jabbing the staff deeply, without warning, into his stomach, “is never to give a weapon to an enemy.”

The young man, bent over, retched in the dirt. Thurnus smote him sharply on the side of the head, felling him. He then turned to the other two young men, and Bran Loort. “You should keep your guard up,” said Thurnus to one of them, who immediately, warily, raised his staff.

Thurnus then smote the other fellow, at whom he did not appear to be looking. He turned, watching the fellow fall into the dirt. “You, too, of course,” said Thurnus, “should keep your guard up. That is important.”

The other young man, he beside Bran Loort, then suddenly struck at Thurnus, but Thurnus, clearly, had been expecting the blow. He parried it and slipped behind the other’s staff, bringing up the lower end of his own staff. The fellow’s face turned white and he sank away.

“Aggressiveness is good,” said Thurnus, “but beware of the counterstroke.” Thurnus looked about himself. Of the nine men only one, Bran Loort, now stood ready. Thurnus grinned. He indicated the young men, strewn about.

“These others, I now gather,” said Thurnus, “will not enter our competition.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.231-32

The long bow, alternatively known as the great bow or the peasant bow, is commonly made from the wood of the Ka-la-na, the yellow wine tree of Gor, because the wood is very supple. The bow is then tipped with notched bosk horn at each end and strung with hemp whipped with silk.

It is the height of a tall man; its back, away from the bowman, is flat; its belly, facing the bowman, is half-rounded; it is something like an inch and a half wide and an inch and a quarter thick at the center”

Raiders of Gor, p.2

When not in use, the bow is kept unstrung though a proficient and strong user can restring it very quickly if necessary.

The bow can fire a variety of arrows such as sheaf or flight arrows. Such arrows are often made of temwood, piled with steel and fletched with feathers such as those of the Vosk gull. Once an arrow is nocked to a bow, one cannot hold the drawn bowstring for too long. 

“It is very painful to hold a bow drawn for more than an Ehn or two.”

Hunters of Gor, p.111

Bowmen often occupy a common stance. 

“My feet were spread; my heels aligned with the target; my feet and body were at right angles to the target line; my head was turned sharply to the left; the first sheaf arrow was drawn to the pile; the three half feathers of the vosk gull were at my jawbone.”

Hunters of Gor, p.180

It is generally not a weapon that can be used while mounted.

One difficulty with the long bow is that it requires great strength to use and thus the number of people who can use such a weapon is very limited.

“Such a weapon I could not even bend. It required, too, not simply the strength of a man, but of a man who was unusually strong. Most men, no more than a woman, could use such a fearsome device. It was a common weapon among peasants. It is often called the peasant bow.”

Slave Girl of Gor, p.139

Many men, even some Warriors, are unable to draw such a bow. 

“He who can bend the longbow, a peasant saying has it, cannot be slave. Women, of course, it might be noted, lack the strength to bend this bow. I suppose if they could bend the bow, the saying would not exist or would be altered.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.112)

Though the staff is a good weapon, the long bow is considered the deadly one. 

“The truly dangerous peasant weapon is the peasant bow, or great bow. It is in virtue of that weapon that thousands of villages on Gor have their own Home Stones.” (Magicians of Gor, p.245) 

It is thus the long bow that allows Peasants to repel intruders and invaders, to protect their homes and villages against all types of marauders. In the right hands, the long bow can be a superb weapon. 

“At point-blank range the temwood shaft can be fired completely through a four-inch beam; at two hundred yards it can pin a man to a wall; at four hundred yards it can kill the huge, shambling bosk; it fires nineteen arrows in a Gorean Ehn, some eighty Earth seconds; a skilled bowman, and not an unusual one, is expected to be able to put those nineteen arrows in an Ehn into a man-sized target, consecutively, each a mortal hit, at some two hundred and fifty yards.” (Hunters of Gor, p.180)

The long bow is a weapon to be feared.

Yet the longbow has some disadvantages as well, which thus make the crossbow a more commonly used weapon, despite the crossbow being inferior in accuracy, range and rate of fire. We have already seen that few men are strong enough to wield the long bow. It is much easier to use a crossbow. 

“.., for every man capable of drawing a warrior’s long bow there will be an indefinite number who can use the crossbow;�” (Raiders of Gor, p.2) 

There are other issues as well. 

“The long bow cannot well be used except in a standing, or at least kneeling, position, thus making more of a target of the archer; the long bow is difficult to use from the saddle; it is impractical in close quarters, as in defensive warfare or in fighting from room to room; and it cannot be kept set, loaded like a firearm, as can the crossbow; …” (Raiders of Gor, p.2)

Another significant reason for the more common use of the crossbow over the long bow is caste prejudice. Because the long bow is considered a Peasant weapon, the higher castes often look with disdain upon it. Thus, few Warriors are willing to use this weapon. 

“That fact, in itself, that the long bow is a peasant weapon, would make many Goreans, particularly those not familiar with the bow, look down upon it. Gorean warriors, generally drawn from the cities, are warriors by blood, by caste; moreover, they are High Caste; the peasants, isolated in their narrow fields and villages, are Low Caste;�” (Raiders of Gor, p.3)

Warriors also seldom have a chance to view long bows in action. 

“Peasants, incidentally, are seldom, except in emergencies, utilized in the armed forces of a city; this is a further reason why their weapon, the long bow, is less known in the cities, and among warriors, than it deserves to be.” (Raiders of Gor, p.3) 

Such Warriors may not properly understand the effectiveness, in the right hands, of the long bow.

So, the long bow is largely unused in many areas. 

“In some cities, Port Kar, for example, the long bow is almost unknown. Similarly it is not widely known even in Glorious Ar, the largest city of known Gor. It is reasonably well know in Thentis, in the Mountains of Thentis, famed for her tarn flocks, and in Ko-ro-ba, my city, the Towers of Morning. Cities vary. But generally the bow is little known.” (Raiders of Gor, p.4) 

But, within the series there was one Caste that adopted the long bow, after they saw its efficacy through the actions of Tarl Cabot. These were the Rencers of the Vosk delta. 

“In the last few years, the use of the peasant bow, beginning in the vicinity of the tidal marshes, had spread rapidly eastward throughout the delta. The materials for the weapon and its missiles, not native to the delta, are acquired largely through trade. Long ago the rencers had learned of its power. They had never forgotten it. By means of it they had become formidable foes. The combination of the delta, with its natural defenses, and the peasant bow, made the rencers all but invulnerable.” (Vagabonds of Gor, p.127-28) 

There are Peasants who live along the eastern edge of the Vosk delta with which the Rencers trade for long bows and arrows.

“I hated peasants. What idiots they were! There were better things to do with a beautiful slave girl than hitch her to a plow!”
(Slave Girl of Gor, p.205)

Slaves of the Peasants

When Peasants purchase slaves, they do not seek the usual beauties that sell well in urban markets.
Peasants purchase slaves primarily as work slaves. Thus, they often choose larger girls, girls who are likely to be able to endure hard work in the fields. Some of these kajirae may end up as village slaves, not personally owned by any single Peasant. Each day, they generally serve a different hut. 

“Many and various, and long, are the tasks of a peasant village. Upon slave girls do most of these tasks devolve. We must do them or die.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.202) 

Such slaves may engage in a variety of work such as toiling in the fields, drawing plows, carrying water, gathering wood, milking verr, gathering vulo eggs, watering and feeding the sleen, and cleaning the sleen cages. 

“I had well learned toil, and misery. It is not easy to be a peasant’s girl.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.194) 

Such girls commonly wear rope, rather than metal, collars and are kept under a harsh discipline.

“Peasants, incidentally, are famous for being strict with their slaves.” (Vagabonds of Gor, p.70) 

Peasants are not tolerant of laziness, insolence or arrogance in their slaves. Their punishments can be quite drastic at times. “One of the penalties which may in a peasant village be inflicted upon a lying slave girl is to throw her alive to hungry sleen.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.242) 

Even when the slaves have their meals, discipline may be instituted. “In the middle of the morning we return to the hut of Thurnus, where pans of slave gruel have been put out for us, beneath the hut. The gruel must be eaten, and the pans licked clean. In the manner of peasant slave girls we kneel or lie upon our bellies and may not use our hands.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.202)It is not en envious position.

Despite their many labors, the slaves of Peasants may also have to serve the pleasure of their owners, just like any other slave. Some villages may even possess a public rape-rack. 

“With a cry of misery I was thrown onto the beams of the rack. My left ankle was thrust into the semi-circular opening in the lower left ankle beam and the upper left ankle beam, with its matching semi-circular opening, was dropped, and locked, in place. My other ankle was similarly secured in the separate matching beams for the right ankle. The rape-rack at Tabuk’s Ford is a specially prepared horizontal stock, cut away in a V-shape at the lower end. My wrists were seized and my hair and I was thrown down on my back, wrists held in place, and my head, too, by my hair, in three semi-circular openings. A single beam, with matching semi-circular openings, on a heavy hinge, closes the stock. It was swung up and then dropped in place, and locked shut. I was now held in the stock, on my back, by my ankles, wrists and neck. I could move very little.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.230)

Why use slave girls for the labors of a village? A primary consideration appears to be cost. 

“Ten days ago Thurnus had used me for plowing. He did not own bosk. Girls are cheaper than bosk.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.202) 

Buying slave girls is probably also cheaper than hiring free labor to do the same type of work. Slaves are a one time cost, except for basic maintenance such as food and shelter. A free laborer would often require an ongoing wage, which would be hiring than the maintenance cost for a Kajira. Now, the great farms use male slaves to work their lands but it seems that most Peasants prefer to use female rather than male slaves.

Why is that so?

Male slaves should prove stronger and be able to accomplish more work than kajirae. But, they do not provide the same pleasures that a kajira can in other areas. And there is always a danger with male slaves, the fear of revolt. It is thus much safer to own kajirae than male slaves. Peasants probably do not want the constant worry of an uprising on their lands. A great farm can afford more security, and probably uses larger numbers of male slaves who can thus be chained together in large groups, helping to reduce potential problems.

“There is a joke about the baby of a peasant father being born drunk nine months later.”
(Slave Girl of Gor, p.414)

Sul Paga

Gorean moonshine. That is probably a fairly accurate way to describe sul paga. Sul paga is distilled from Suls, a tuberous root of the Sul plant which seems similar to the potato. Although Suls are yellow, Sul paga is as clear as water. Sul paga appears to be only brewed in Peasant villages, in stills with their variety of tanks and pipes. Thus, it is rarely available outside of such villages. Very few taverns would stock this potent beverage. There would also be Caste reasons why many other Goreans would not drink Sul paga, for few would want to drink a “Peasant’s” beverage. The same logic why many would not use a Peasant bow.

Sul paga may be the most potent alcohol available on Gor.

“Sul paga would slow a tharlarion. To stay on your feet after a mouthful of Sul paga it is said one must be of the peasants, and then for several generations. And even then, it is said, it is difficult to manage.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.414) 

This emphasizes the strength of Peasants, just as their use of the long bow does. Sul paga is also tasteless. 

“Excellent,” said my master, sipping the Sul paga. He could have been commenting only on the potency of the drink, for Sul paga is almost tasteless. One does not guzzle Sul paga.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.134) 

One slave, who had only a single mouthful, realized the potency of Sul paga. 

“Last night one of the men had held my head back and forced me to swallow a mouthful. In moments things had gone black, and I had fallen unconscious. I had awakened only this morning, ill, miserable, with a splitting headache, chained with the other girls.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.134)

All from a simple mouthful.

“I admired peasants. They were hardy, sturdy, irrepressible.”
(Magicians of Gor, p.28)

Tabuk’s Ford

The books provide numerous details about the Peasant village of Tabuk’s Ford. This village is located approximately four hundred pasangs generally north and slightly west of the city of Ar. It is also located approximately twenty pasangs off the Vosk Road to the west. 

“Tabuk’s Ford receives its name from the fact that field Tabuk were once accustomed, in their annual migrations, to ford the Verl tributary of the Vosk in its vicinity. The Verl flows northwestward into the Vosk.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.135) 

It does appear that the founding of the village though caused the Tabuk to change their migration route. 

“The field Tabuk now make their crossing some twenty pasangs northwest of Tabuk’s Ford, but the village, founded in the area of the original crossing keeps the first name of the locale.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.135)

Tabuk’s Ford is a large village, surrounded by a wooden palisade, and containing some forty families. 

“Tabuk’s Ford is a rich village, but it is best known not for its agricultural bounty, a function of its dark, fertile fields in the southern basin of the Verl, but for its sleen breeding.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.135) 

There are several sleen pens in the village as well as a sleen training pit. Because of its fame in sleen breeding, Goreans from all over come to the village to seek their animals.

Thurnus is the Peasant Caste leader and founder of Tabuk’s Ford. The books detail the founding of the village. 

“To one side, against the wall of the hut, there rested, on a small table, a piece of plain, irregularly shaped rock, which Thurnus, years earlier, when first he had founded the farm, later to be the community of Tabuk’s Ford, had taken from his own fields. He had, one morning, years ago, bow upon his back and staff in hand, seed at his thigh, after months of wandering, come to a place which had pleased him. It lay in the basin of the Verl. He had been driven from his father’s village, for his attendance upon a young free woman of the village. Her brother’s arms and legs had he broken. The woman had followed him. She had become his companion. With him, too, had come two young men, and two other women, who saw in him, the young, rawboned giant, the makings of a caste leader. Months had they wandered. Then, following tabuk, in the basin of the verl, he had come to a place which had pleased him. There the animals had forded the river. He had driven the yellow stake of claimancy into the dark soil, near the Verl, and had stood there, his weapons at hand, beside the stake, until the sun had reached the zenith and then, slowly, set. It was then he had reached to his feet and picked up the stone, from his own fields. It now rested on his hut. It was the Home Stone of Thurnus.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.139-40)

“Thurnus was a shaggy haired fellow, with yellow hair, big, broad-shouldered, large-handed, clearly in his bones and body of the peasants. He was caste Leader in Tabuk’s Ford.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.135) 

He is also one of the best known of the sleen breeders of Gor. His hut was located near the center of the village, close to the central clearing. Besides his skill with the staff, he also is extremely proficient with the long bow. 

“The skill of Thurnus with the great bow was legendary, even among peasants.” (Slave Girl of Gor, p.229) 

Thurnus is almost the ideal Peasant, the epitome of the excellence that can be found in that Caste.

His free companion was once Melina. But, she tried to poison Thurnus, unsuccessfully, and she was then enslaved as her punishment. Thurnus owned several slaves, including Sandal Thong, a long armed, freckled giantess of a peasant wench who was his First Girl; Verr Tail, a wide-shouldered, auburn-haired girl; Turnip, a dark-haired, wide-faced girl; Radish, a blondish, thick-ankled girl and Dina, who was once Judy Thornton of Earth. He prefers large, wide-hipped and large breasted women. After Melina was enslaved, Thurnus freed Sandal Thong so that she could become his free companion. But she refused his offer, wanting only to be his slave so he enslaved her once again. So, Thurnus is currently without a free companion.


Another Peasant of some note in the novels is Thurnock. He is a large, broad man with yellow-hair and blue-eyes. He once had a holding near Ar but eventually ended up as a slave on a Port Kar ship in the Vosk delta. He was subsequently freed by Tarl Cabot in Raiders of Gor and chose to join Tarl in Port Kar. He is very loyal to Tarl. He is also skilled with both the long bow and staff.

Written by Ubar Luther in Gor-Now.net

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