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

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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

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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

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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

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“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

©2020 by Azrael Phoenix

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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

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Gorean Philosophy

“I do not insist that my argument is right in all other respects, but I would contend at all costs both in word and deed as far as I could that we will be better men, braver and less idle, if we believe that one must search for the things one does not know, rather than if we believe that it is not possible to find out what we do not know and that we must not look for it.” 


In January 2002, I began writing a column for the Gorean Voice, an online magazine that deals with Gorean issues. My column consists of a series of articles that deal with a myriad of aspects of the philosophy of Gor. These articles have covered a wide spectrum of philosophical issues, ranging from general topics such as metaphysics and epistemology to more specific topics such as virtue ethics and Plato’s The Republic.

These articles were intended to make people think, to contemplate questions related to Gorean philosophy. The articles might even convince a few people to consider adopting a Gorean philosophy into their lives. I am now placing these articles onto my website. The essays are largely unchanged except for some minor revisions. Additional essays from the Gorean Voice will be added in the future as well. It is also possible that some of these essays will see a more substantial expansion in the future.

Some Preliminary Matters

Let me begin with a caveat, that the opinions expressed in this series of essays are mine alone and as such are susceptible to all the normal vagaries of opinions. But, I do feel that my opinions are firmly grounded and well researched. They are based upon multiple readings and studies of all of the Gor novels, all of Norman’s other written works, and additional extensive readings and studies into philosophy, science, psychology and history.

In addition, one of my majors in college was philosophy. Personally, I choose to live by a Gorean philosophy in my life though I do not consider myself a Gorean lifestyler, by its most common definition. I simply see no reason in my own life for the necessity of trying to emulate the societal and cultural institutions of Gor. Others have different desires and that is fully their prerogative.

Some initial clarification is necessary to delineate the scope and direction of this series. The philosophy of Gor and the Gorean lifestyle, though related, are still separate entities. The most common definition of a lifestyler is one who follows a Gorean philosophy AND also emulates some of the societal and cultural institutions of Gor such as slavery, the Caste system or the Home Stone.

The Gorean philosophy consists of the underlying principles of the Gorean world, separate from their manifestation into man-made institutions. One could create a more expansive definition of a lifestyler to include those who just follow a Gorean philosophy, but that would not be its most common usage. The key here is that one does not need to be a called a lifestyler (as it is commonly defined) to follow a Gorean philosophy in their life. I am not denigrating the lifestyle here, only trying to properly define the terms, by their most common usage, that will be used in these articles.

Even though the societal and cultural institutions of Gor most often derive from the philosophy, that derivation is not a logical necessity. Other institutions, some drastically different, could be derived from that same philosophy. For example, the barbarian cultures of Gor possess some drastically different societal and cultural institutions than the civilized cities of Gor, yet they all follow the same basic philosophy.

These institutions may even vary from city to city. Thus, those institutions are generally unimportant to a comprehension of the philosophy except as examples of one possible method of the enactment of the philosophy. They are also unnecessary to actually living according to the philosophy. You do not need to own a slave or possess a Home Stone to live according to a Gorean philosophy.

If we examine the books, trying to separate the philosophy from the societal and cultural institutions, we can see that those matters that may seem most abhorrent to our own moral sense, such as human sacrifice or legal slavery, belong to the category of societal and cultural institutions. Fortunately, such matters are unnecessary if we are only concerned with the philosophy. Any philosophy, in its application into a societal or cultural institution, can be abused or twisted but that does not invalidate the underlying philosophy.

Consider how Christianity has been twisted over the centuries into such matters as the Inquisition and Crusades. Consider how Nietzsche’s philosophy, though he despised anti-Semitism, was twisted by the Nazis for their own sinister purposes. Do not equate what you might see as “brutality” within the Gor books as indicative of what the philosophy actually entails. Look below the surface to find its roots. A mere surface reading of the books is insufficient to properly understand its depths.

Not everyone believes that the Gorean philosophy is valid or worthy. But, if we analyze the efforts of these critics of Gor, we can see that their primary criticisms concern the societal and cultural institutions of Gor rather than the actual philosophy. The existence of forced slavery in the books is an often touted “evil” of Gor despite it not being an aspect of the philosophy. Thus, those criticisms have no correlation to the philosophy. If anything, the critics often deny even the existence of any Gorean philosophy.

On those rare occasions when they do contest particular aspects of the philosophy, they more often that not misunderstand and misrepresent what are the actual philosophical principles of Gor. For example, some critics claim that the Gorean philosophy stands for the proposition that women are inferior to men. This is completely wrong and is not a Gorean proposition. Gor depicts men and women as simply different, not that women are inherently inferior to men. The critics need to better understand what they wish to oppose. And if they truly understood the Gorean philosophy, most of them might not be so critical.

So what is the reason to present this series of articles? I think that discussions of the actual philosophy underlying Gor are far too uncommon online. When philosophical topics are raised on message boards, they often garner few replies. There are many more discussions on the practicalities of living a Gorean lifestyle today, on the emulation of the societal and cultural institutions of Gor.

Just look at how prevalent are the discussions of slavery on websites and message boards. There is no other topic that garners half as much attention as slavery. But, I believe that the Gorean philosophy is of significant importance and that it warrants much more discussion than it currently receives. This series will be an effort to raise the awareness level of the philosophy and hopefully institute some meaningful dialogue on the subject matter.

There would be no lifestyle without the Gorean philosophy. The philosophy is the required foundation for the lifestyle. And if one wishes to follow a Gorean philosophy in their lives, it is essential that they understand fully what they are trying to follow. Otherwise, they do a disservice to themselves.

One could convert to Catholicism, and then go to Mass, receive the Eucharist and go to confession. But, unless they understood the basics of the faith, the essential fundamentals of that faith, they would only be going through the motions. And no one should just “go through the motions” in their chosen lifestyle. Comprehension is essential and highly beneficial.

Introduction to Gorean Philosophy

“Philosophy begins when one learns to doubt–particularly to doubt one’s cherished beliefs, one’s dogmas and one’s axioms. Who knows how these cherished beliefs become certainties with us, and whether some secret wish did not furtively beget them, clothing desire in the dress of thought? There is no real philosophy until the mind turns round and examines itself.” 

The Story of Philosophy by Will Durant 

What is the Gorean philosophy?

Let us break that question down. What is Gorean? What is philosophy?

Before we can begin to discuss this fascinating subject, we must first try to define our terms. Without a common definitional basis, there might be confusion and misinterpretation. It is far better to try to circumvent those potential problems at the start. Socrates was an ardent advocate of the great importance of defining terms when discussing philosophical issues. Please also understand that these definitions are geared specifically to pertain to the subject matter at hand. As such, these definitions may not be appropriate in a different context.

We shall begin our discussion by first trying to define “philosophy.” The term “philosophy” is derived from two Greek words that literally translates as “lover of wisdom.” The proper definition of philosophy though remains a bone of contention even to modern day philosophers. Thus, many different definitions exist, varying from the simple to the complex. So, what are we to do? Which definition would be best for our purposes?

Well, if we are to discuss a Gorean philosophy, then maybe we should consult Norman, a philosophy professor, for his own definition of philosophy. But, that is not to be found within the Gorean series. Fortunately, Norman’s book “The Cognitivity Paradox” (published under his real name John Lange) provides us with just such a definition. This book also points out the weaknesses of numerous other definitions of philosophy and is highly recommended for anyone interested in Gorean philosophy or philosophy in general.

Norman defines philosophy simple as “a proposal,” something essentially offered for consideration, a matter to be discussed and examined. In general, a proposal would not be considered to have a truth-value in the ordinary sense. It is not something we would commonly assess as either just true or false. But, nearly all philosophers would contend that philosophy can be cognitive, that it can have a truth-value, so they might contest Norman’s definition.

They would see philosophy as having far greater worth than merely being a proposal. But, Norman avoids this criticism by choosing to extend the meaning of truth-value to create a derivative cognitivity that is applicable to such proposals. Obviously some proposals are better than others and it is possible that some proposal can even be considered the best. Thus, if a set of conditions are devised to judge a proposal, based on some ideal, then those conditions could be used to assess its truth-value. We shall return to Norman’s definition later in this series to assess the cognitivity of the Gorean philosophy.

Academically, philosophy has four primary components: logic, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. Logic is essentially concerned with correct methods of reasoning, how we prove certain statements, including such matters as deductive and inductive reasoning. We shall mostly ignore this aspect of philosophy when we are exploring Gor except in as so much that we shall rely on logic when making our points.

Metaphysics concerns explanations about the general aspects of reality such as the nature of our minds, bodies, God, space, time, the world and universe. We shall explore this topic as it applies to Gor, especially concerning the fabricated metaphysics imposed upon the Low Castes, also known as the Double Knowledge. We will also explore how different Gorean cultures, the barbarian peoples, have their own metaphysical beliefs.

Epistemology concerns the nature and extent of human knowledge, asking why we believe what we believe and whether true knowledge is possible. We shall explore this aspect as well as it applies to Gorean philosophy. Though some cultures may differ in this respect as well, there is more commonality here than in the area of metaphysics. Ethics concerns the proper way to conduct one’s life and issues of morality. We shall spend the most time discussing this subject as it applies to Gorean philosophy. When people generally refer to the Gorean philosophy, this is the topic they mean. They are most concerned about how to properly live according to this philosophy.

There are also derivative forms of philosophy, subjects that are more specific in nature such as political philosophy and aesthetics. It has even spread in modern times to cover such areas as the philosophy of sports, sex, health, business and many more. We may touch on a few of these derivative forms where they are applicable to Gor. For example, we shall examine some aspects of political philosophy such as the relation of Plato’s “The Republic” to the structure of the Gorean city. We may even touch upon some aspects of aesthetics as beauty is very important on Gor.

Let’s now define “Gorean,” an often controversial term online. There is often debate and disagreement on defining this term and many people have their own definitions of such. My definition is intended to be limited to the context of “Gorean philosophy.” I intend “Gorean” to be an expansive term, encompassing nearly all of the societies and cultures of Gor, from the cities such as Ar and Ko-ro-ba, to the barbarian lands of Torvaldsland and the Barrens. What unites these disparate peoples is an underlying set of philosophical principles.

This is what makes those people Gorean “by nature” as opposed to Gorean simply by their place of birth. Though their societal and cultural institutions vary, often quite significantly, these peoples are still united philosophically in many ways. Their metaphysics may vary, as well as their epistemology, but the foundation of their ethics is the same. And it is the ethical aspects that are of the greatest importance to those who wish to live by a Gorean philosophy. A few Gorean societies and cultures may try to repudiate these principles but they are not the norm. They are rare exceptions, such as the Panther Girls, who are unwilling to accept all of the principles, though very often they succumb to them in the end.

So, essentially this series will cover the commonalities and differences in three philosophic aspects among the disparate peoples of Gor. Metaphysics and epistemology will be dealt with briefly as they are of lesser importance to our interests and objectives. The area of ethics though will be central to our discussions. We shall also cover a number of other philosophically related matters. The primary objective of this series will be to help people understand the underlying principles of the Gorean philosophy, that apply to nearly all the peoples of Gor, and how they can impact upon societal and cultural institutions. We shall also better comprehend how a Gorean philosophy can be adopted and followed in our own lives.

Though understanding the Gorean philosophy, once it is presented, should not prove too difficult, enacting its principles in one’s life can be more problematic. This is because many of the philosophical principles of Gor are antithetical to the standards we are used to on Earth. We have been socially and culturally conditioned against these natural principles. And such conditioning can be very difficult to overcome. It is not an easy matter to cast it off and to embrace a philosophy so counter to it. It takes a massive effort of will, a true test of self-discipline and self-examination. Not everyone can or is willing to do this. But it can be done. Living according to a Gorean philosophy is a definite possibility.

There is a popular quote from the books that is often quoted as a proposition of how to live one’s life in a Gorean manner. 

“Do not ask the stones or the trees how to live; they cannot tell you; they do not have tongues; do not ask the wise man how to live, for, if he knows, he will know he cannot tell you; if you would learn how to live do not ask the question, its answer is not in the question but in the answer, which is not in words, do not ask how to live, but instead proceed to do so.”  

Marauders of Gor, p.9

Though this is a fine quote, its applicability to those on Earth is very limited. Its primary applicability is to the Goreans of the books who have been raised since birth to believe and understand the basic philosophy of Gor. It thus comes naturally to them and they do not need to engage in lengthy meditations over their philosophic choices.

We on Earth, due to the strong societal and cultural conditioning we receive since birth, cannot simply “just live” as Goreans do. We have forgotten how to do so. We must awaken to the realities of nature and that requires intensive self-examination to overcome our life-long conditioning. We must ask the stones and trees how to live. Thus, we must make take an active role to study and understand the Gorean philosophy. We would be much better off following the advice of Socrates: “The unexamined life is not worth living.”  

If the Gorean philosophy is a positive philosophy, which I believe it to be, then it seems obvious that it should be promoted and encouraged. What reason is there not to promote a positive philosophy? In the Gorean books, Norman holds out a slim chance that those of Earth will one day “awaken” to the natural truths of the Gorean philosophy. He does not indicate that only a select few should follow the philosophy. It seems evident that he feels the entire planet could benefit from such a philosophy. He hopes for a future that has regained a connection to the natural world.

Thus, it makes sense to promote such a philosophy, to encourage people to learn and understand it. Turning people away from such a philosophy does a disservice to our society. Maybe the information presented here might help even a few comprehend the philosophy and choose to follow it in their lives.

Finally, I cannot stress enough that all education about Gor, including the philosophy, begins with the Gor books. If you wish to properly understand Gor, you must read the Gor books. There is no real substitute. Reading websites and message boards is insufficient for a proper understanding of Gor. They may help you better understand what you have read, but you should have the foundation of having read the books first.

Otherwise, you will be unable to discern the errors from the truth. And numerous websites do contain inaccuracies concerning the books. Without the books, you might be able to acquire a passing knowledge of Gor, but true comprehension will likely elude you. And if one truly cares about Gor, enough to want to live according to its philosophy, then reading the books should be a given.

“…love of learning, which can be one of the deepest and most honest of loves.”

Tarnsman of Gor, p.38

Written by Ubar Luther in

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Primary Gorean Principle

“The right to search for the truth implies also a duty; one must not conceal any part of what one has recognized to be true.”

Albert Einstein

     We have previously discussed two of the three primary elements of Gorean philosophy: metaphysics and epistemology.  It is now time to begin our discussion and analysis of the final element of Gorean philosophy, ethics.   This discussion will stretch out over numerous essays as it is an involved subject and of the greatest relevance to those who desire to live by a Gorean philosophy.  It is also an area that has garnered the most online interest concerning Gorean philosophical thought, though it most often is not labeled as ethics in those discussions.  It generally receives no label at all.  Few people online discuss issues of Gorean metaphysics and epistemology for ethics is of far greater concern to them.  They are more concerned about ethics in large part because it seems far more practical than metaphysics and epistemology.         

     Ethics deals with the proper way to conduct one’s life.  It deals with issues of morality, values, right actions, the nature of good and much more.  Ethics has been a major concern for philosophers since the ancient Greeks yet the underlying issues have been a part of mankind far longer than even that.  Man, since he began to live in communities, has always been concerned about issues of right and wrong behavior.  Their thoughts may have been very simple but their concerns were important to them.  

Greek philosophers began to more systematically examine the primary issues of ethics, to delve into its intricacies.  Socrates spent his entire life searching for the answer of how he should properly conduct his life.  That was the intended purpose of his elenchus, the questioning and testing he would subject certain individuals to.  The elenchus is more commonly known as the Socratic method.  Plato’s Socratic dialogues commonly center on an example of the elenchus intended to assist in defining key ethical concepts.  For example, Plato’s The Republic centers on the definition of justice.  And Plato’s student, Aristotle, wrote extensively on ethics.    

     More modern philosophers continue to seek answers to these same questions and many of their answers vary significantly from those of the ancient Greeks.  Ethics remains an area of controversy and modern technology has brought about new ethical concerns, issues that ancient man never had to consider.   Cloning, nuclear proliferation, and stem cell research are a few of these new areas that ancient man never had to contemplate.   Yet there are also many common ethical concerns that both modern men and ancient men share.  Despite these shared concerns, modern man more often views those ethical concerns from a different paradigm than ancient man.  And the ethics of modern man are often viewed from a different paradigm than the ethics of Gor as well.       

     When people discuss a “Gorean lifestyle” they are actually describing a form of ethics, a way to conduct their life based on the philosophical principles of Gor.  The only caveat is that a “Gorean lifestyle” often comprises more than just philosophical principles.  It commonly includes the emulation of certain societal and cultural aspects of Gor as well.  Such aspects might include institutions such as slavery, Free Companionship, the Home Stone and the Caste system.  

These institutions are modified to conform to the realities of our lives.  But, these aspects are unnecessary to someone who wishes to follow only the philosophical principles of Gor.  Those aspects are part of the fiction of Gor, even though they may derive from the philosophy.  Many of those aspects are also generally limited on Gor to the cities of Gor.  They are not universal institutions, followed by all of the diverse peoples of Gor.  It would be more appropriate to label such institutions as “City Gorean” rather than the more general “Gorean.” 

     In many respects, Gorean ethics go backwards philosophically, embracing many of the tenets and beliefs of the ancient Greeks and Romans.  Even when Gor seems to reflect the ideas of more modern day philosophers, still you will often find a strong connection to the ancient Greeks and Romans.  For example, within the philosophy of Nietzsche, a German philosopher of the late 19th century, one will find many correlations to Gorean philosophy.  Yet the philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome permeates Nietzschian philosophy.  For example, Nietzsche often lauds such ancient philosophers as Heraclitus and Socrates.  Other Nietzschean ideas clearly reflect the beliefs of the Hellenistic Stoics. 

     But, you will be unlikely to find many other more modern philosophers who would reflect Gorean ethics.  For example, Gorean ethics do not reflect the utilitarianism of Bentham or the categorical imperatives of Kant.  They reflect a different perspective, one that has begun recently to return again to the modern mindset.   Some present-day philosophers are once again looking to the ethics of the ancient world for answers.  They have become dissatisfied with the answers provided by modern philosophy and are seeking alternatives.  And it is to there where we will find many of our own answers concerning Gorean ethics.  

As discussed in the earlier essay on epistemology, our search for the truth will often take us outside of the Gorean books.  Norman is a philosophy professor so he was clearly cognizant of the ideas of the ancient philosophers.  And it seems readily apparent that these ancient philosophies served as a major inspiration for the world of Gor.     

     Thus, to better understand Gorean ethics, one’s reading should extend further than just the Gorean books.  Such readings should seek out these inspirations for Gorean philosophy and ethics.  Such readings will provide a deeper comprehension of the philosophical issues raised within the Gorean novels.  Read about such philosophical groups as the Pythagoreans, Cynics, Epicureans, and Stoics.   Read the works of such philosophers as Plato, Heraclitus, Seneca, Epictetus and Aristotle.  Read specific works such as Plato’s The Republic, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and Aristotle’s Politics.  Read about such important terms as the elenchus, arte, logos and eudaimonia.  Read texts concerning virtue ethics and agent-centered morality.  Read not only the actual works of the ancient philosophers but also books which explain and give commentary on the works of these ancient writers.  Read some general histories of ancient philosophical thought.        

     As for more modern sources, I would also recommend the works of Nietzsche, a controversial German philosopher, especially his books Beyond Good and Evil and Genealogy of Morals.  His works often reflect ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, placing it in a more modern setting.  In fact, Nietzsche has even written books and essays on the ancient Greek philosophers.  

Nietzsche is not an easy read though so it is advised to accompany your reading of his works with readings of explanatory works by other writers and philosophers.  It helps immensely when trying to understand Nietzsche to see the entire picture rather than to dwell on individual quotes and books.  Nietzsche is best examined as a whole and not by any individual work.  His works can be easily misunderstood.  His works can also be easily twisted by those who choose to take a few quotes out of context to denigrate Nietzsche.     

     As many Gorean philosophical principles are based on natural principles, then one can also benefit from readings into the field of evolutionary psychology, also known as sociobiology.  That is a field that touches on genetics, biology, psychology, ethics and more.  It is a field where much confusion and controversy still reigns though much of the criticisms of the field are unfounded.  Some recommended books in that area include: Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by E.O. Wilson, The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, The Triumph of Sociobiology by John Alcock, Defenders of the Truth by Ullica Segerstrale and The Moral Animal by Robert Wright.

     When we begin to examine Gorean ethics, we are presented with a broad spectrum of different aspects.  We have the underlying philosophical principles that form the foundation of Gorean philosophy and we also have the morality of Gor, which can be basically summarized as virtue ethics.  The distinction between these two aspects is often not made clear online.  Some tend to mix the two or ignore one for the other.  Yet both aspects are very significant.  

In addition, there are extensions of Gorean ethics as well, areas that present their own individual philosophies such as the political philosophy of Gor.  This series of essays will attempt to delve into all of these different aspects, to highlight the important elements of each.  Some of these aspects have rarely been discussed before, if ever, yet they are important topics that deserve discussion and analysis.       

     How do you encapsulate Gorean philosophy into a single sentence? 

     How do you narrow down the multitude of philosophical principles of Gor into one easily understood statement? 

     How do you describe the underlying foundation of Gorean philosophy to someone who has no knowledge of Gor?

     Can it even be done?

     After a careful reading of the Gorean books, it is evident that it can be done.  While reading and examining the Gorean series, there is one primary principle that leaps out at us time and time again.  We can see its traces through out all of the books, its tendrils touching upon so many different aspects of Gor.  We can see it reach into the civilized cities of Gor as well as the diverse barbarian cultures.  

Essentially, this principle is followed by nearly every Gorean on the planet.  This near universal following makes this principle inherently “Gorean.”  It is not a principle restricted by geographic region, socio-economic status, or level of civilization.   It is a principle that binds all of the peoples of Gor.  Without this principle, Gor would not be Gor.    

     This basic principle is very simple to express, five ordinary words that form one ordinary sentence.  Yet the philosophical implications of that ordinary sentence are most profound.  It is a sentence pregnant with meaning, swollen with complexity.   It is a principle that has existed on Earth since the days of antiquity yet has been largely forgotten in our modern, mechanistic society.  Modern society has chosen to ignore this principle and suffered due to its absence.  The technological concerns of modern man have separated him from this principle, to his detriment.  In fact, modern society has chosen to operate on a principle in clear opposition to this basic Gorean principle.  Yet, this principle is the single most important aspect of Gorean philosophy.      

     Live In Accordance With Nature       

     It is as simple as that, and as complex as well.  In many ways, the entire Gorean series is an attempt to define this underlying principle, to determine the parameters of this important foundation of Gor.  There are numerous other philosophical principles within the novels but they only serve as definitional principles to this foundational one.  There is a symbiotic relationship between this basic principle and its definitional principles.  

Each needs each other to be fully complete.  They can try to stand alone but then must navigate through a mire of ambiguity.  And that ambiguity threatens the validity of each separate component.  Yet when they are properly fitted together, the ambiguity must then battle for its own survival.  Clarity accompanies a more complete definition and provides a more substantial framework for the Gorean philosophy. 

     There is no more basic Gorean principle that this one.  Every other philosophical principle that can be found within the Gor books ultimately derives from this basic principle.  Each of these definitional principles serves to clarify and define the primary principle.  Some of these definitional principles are quite explicit in the books while others are more hidden, concealed deeper within the fiction.  In addition, more definitional principles might be revealed in later books.  

There is no guarantee that this most basic principle has been completely defined so far.  It does seem evident that the definition has a strong foundation but we cannot ignore the possibility that some aspect may be missing.  It does seem likely though that any subsequently revealed definitional principle will not radically change our current understanding of this principle.  They would simply add an additional nuance to our comprehension.  

     This foundational principle is echoed by a number of ancient philosophers, most especially the Hellenistic Stoics.  But, if we carefully examine the philosophy of the Stoics, their own derivatives and definitions of this basic principle, we can discern some significant differences from the Gorean philosophy.  Thus, even though both start from the same foundational principle, how they define the parameters of that principle can vary, sometimes very substantially.  

This points out an important issue for those who will do additional reading concerning ancient philosophies. Even though Norman borrowed extensively from these philosophies for Gor, he also made certain changes to conform to the vision he possessed of Gor.  So the reader must be wary of differentiating the similarities and differences between Gorean philosophy and ancient philosophies. 

     (As an additional example, we can note that Aristotle conceived of a natural theory of slavery.  Yet his own theory varies significantly from the Gorean natural theory of slavery.  Aristotle felt that both men and women could be natural slaves.   Norman stated that only women were natural slaves.  Men might be enslaved on Gor but it was not a natural occurrence, it was more an economic issue.  Aristotle also believed that natural slaves were deficient in reason, mentally inferior.  Norman did not feel that natural slaves were such.  In fact, Norman felt that a slave could be extremely intelligent and still be a natural slave.   Many Goreans value intelligence in their slaves.) 

     Let us first break down our foundational principle into its basic components, to achieve a starting definition from which we can build upon.  First, we have “Live.”  We are being advised on a course of action, on what we should do and how to conduct our life.  The sentence is phrased more as an imperative, a command for our conduct.  Next, we have “In Accordance.”  This entails a relationship, one conducive to harmony, one that follows the dictates of some source.  It avoids conflict, seeking a balance.  

Finally, we have “With Nature.”  This is the source, that with which we must harmonize our lives.  Nature also adopts a dual role, covering both the natural world around us as well as our own inner natures.  Thus, this principle could actually be broken down into two separate, but interconnected, components:  “Live In Accordance With The Natural World” & ”Live In Accordance With Our Inner Nature.”

     If this principle is the key to Gorean philosophy, is it thus sufficient to follow only this principle in one’s life to live according to a Gorean philosophy?  The short and simple answer is “yes.”  This principle is the essential key but the answer is not quite as simple as that.  For one must also properly understand this principle, to know its parameters and definitional principles.  

As was mentioned previously, the Stoics held to this exact same principle yet their philosophy is very different in many respects from Gorean philosophy.  So, two people could follow this same basic principle but that would not guarantee that each of them was following a Gorean philosophy.  Thus, though you need only follow this principle to follow a Gorean philosophy, you cannot do so unless you fully comprehend how Goreans define this principle.  

     Let’s consider an analogy, comparing and contrasting the Gorean Warrior Caste and the Japanese samurai.  A foundational principle to both groups would be “Be honorable and follow the warrior code of conduct.”  But, each of these two groups has a different code of conduct so what might be honorable to a samurai might be dishonorable to a Gorean Warrior.  

For example, suicide can be honorable, under the proper circumstances, to a samurai but it is always dishonorable to a Gorean Warrior.  Thus, simply being honorable and following a warrior code of conduct will not necessarily make one either a Gorean Warrior or a samurai.  You must delve deeper to assess the definitional principles beneath the foundational principle.    

     For the foundational principle to be truly Gorean in nature, then you must accept the definitions provided within the books, the parameters set forth in the series.  If you try to define this principle on your own, it will no longer be Gorean.  It may still be a valid philosophy but it will not be Gorean.  We must then carefully examine the Gorean series to learn how to properly define this basic principle.  

Thus, understanding the existence of this basic principle is only the start of one’s exploration of Gorean philosophy.  A further exploration requires a reading and analysis of the entire Gorean series, to scrutinize the works to locate those definitional parameters for this foundational principle of Gor.  It will also require outside reading to understand all of these additional principles and concepts.

     So, what are some of the definitional principles of Gor, those principles that help to define the basic philosophical stance of “Live in Accordance with Nature?”  They include such matters, in no particular order, as:

  1. People are born with certain genetic inclinations;   
  2. People develop over time, guided by a combination of genetics and environment;  
  3. People are not equal;  
  4. Males are generally dominant and women are generally submissive;  
  5. Nature is hierarchical;  
  6. Seek fulfillment rather than denial;  
  7. Conserve the natural world;  
  8. Savor the beauty in the world.  

     (These and additional definitional principles will be more fully discussed in later essays.)

     In we examine these definitional principles, we will again see that they apply to not only the peoples of the cities of Gor but also the peoples of the barbarian lands.  Thus, these principles are near universal across Gor, as is the foundational principle we first examined.  If a principle only applied in the cities, or just in the barbarian lands, then it would not be “Gorean” in the sense of being a defining aspect of nearly any inhabitant of the planet of Gor.  

Such principles would need qualification such as being a “City Gorean” or “Barbarian Gorean” one.  As an example, the Home Stone is a societal institution generally restricted to the cities of Gor.   The barbarian lands do not possess Home Stones.  Thus, in the broader sense, a Home Stone is not a “Gorean” matter but is more appropriately a “City Gorean” one.

     The definitional principles also form the underlying basis for the varied societal and cultural institutions on Gor.  The obvious diversity of these institutions on Gor indicates the flexibility of these principles.  There is no single set of institutions that must necessarily derive from these definitional principles.  

For example, the Caste system of the cities of Gor, based in part on Nature being hierarchical, is not essential to the definitional principles of Gor.  The barbarian lands do not possess a Caste system yet they follow that same definitional principle.  The Wagon Peoples have a clan system that follows that principle but their system is very different from the Caste system of the cities.  Other barbarian peoples have their own ways of arranging a hierarchy of their peoples.   

     In general, the people of Gor do not sit and ponder these definitional principles.  These principles are so ingrained into their society and culture that they are second nature.  Their cultural and societal institutions have a lengthy tradition and they go unquestioned.  And in general, people do not contest these principles.  

Those that do are generally outcasts, such as the Panther Girls and talunas who object to the prevalence of male dominance.  Yet they are but a tiny minority on Gor.  These principles have worked for centuries for Goreans so they see no reason to alter their perceptions.  Tradition maintains a powerful hold over Gorean life.

     The books provide an interesting quote on the Gorean stance to ethics.  

Do not ask the stones or the trees how to live; they cannot tell you; they do not have tongues; do not ask the wise man how to live, for, if he knows, he will know he cannot tell you; if you would learn how to live do not ask the question, its answer is not in the question but in the answer, which is not in words, do not ask how to live, but instead proceed to do so.

Marauders of Gor, p.9

This quote is sometimes used to indicate that Gorean philosophy is something that is learned only through living and not study.  Such individuals see little reason to engage in philosophical discourse.  To them, Gorean ethics is naturally evident.  Yet, is this actually the case?  Can we just live as the Goreans do?

     If we were raised on Gor, then we would not need to study Gorean philosophical principles.  We would have been raised according to those principles, taught to embrace them from our youth.  Our entire society would be based upon those principles.   These principles would be naturally evident to us.  We would generally see no other viewpoint.  But, those of us raised on Earth come from a radically different background.  We are not raised according to these principles.  

Much of our society is based on opposite principles.  The only way we even learn of these other principles is through reading and studying.  We cannot just live as Goreans do because we have forgotten how to do so.  We have discarded the natural principles embraced on Gor.  We must actively overcome societal conditioning to embrace these natural principles.  And that takes true study and effort.  We must ask how to live because we no longer know how to do so.  The above-cited quote is appropriate for those of Gor but not for those of Earth.

     So, we have begun our journey down the path of Gorean ethics.  It is a long road, with many side roads to explore.  Some of the road will seem familiar while other sections will seem very new.  We hope that it will be an interesting and educational trek through this philosophical landscape.  

Written by Ubar Luther in    

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part VIII b)

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

8) Gorean Beliefs and a Definition of the Gorean Character – Conclusion

Summary of the selected quotations:

Goreans believe it is healthy to openly express their emotions. They believe that any city, built by human hands, is a living amalgamation of those who have built it, and reside there. They are proud of their cities and display their civil affiliations openly. They take great care and pride in what they make, and construct. They feel that pitying another person is humiliating, whereas loving them is not. Goreans have little sensitivity to matters of race, but much to language and city. While strict, they are seldom sadistic or cruel. Outwardly they seem to think little of women, in some ways, but make a point of extravagantly celebrating them in other ways. The average Gorean is somewhat impatient and light-hearted, enjoying the joys of life somewhat more than its duties of drudgery.

The Gorean feels compelled to challenge himself against what is beautiful and dangerous. Gorean women express vitality, and carry themselves with an upright posture, indicating their appreciation for grace and beauty. Goreans are fond of gambling, and of taking risks. Gorean women understand submission behaviours and the particulars of slavery as practiced on their world, and understand and accept the reality of its existence in relation to themselves.

Goreans are not fond of beggars or panhandlers. They are extremely sensitive about names, and who has the right to speak to them. Goreans celebrate and value high intelligence in women.

Goreans believe that in every woman there is an inner competition between the desire to be free and the desire to be owned by her man. They believe that any woman can be forced to submit– yet they celebrate those women who are capable of making the necessary sacrifices required for them to maintain their freedom and independence within the boundaries of Gorean society.

Gorean morality encourages honour, courage, hardness and strength. Goreans render their enemies the respect which is rightfully due to them. They refuse to divide or cripple themselves in opposition to nature. They see no reason why all who are male should not embrace their maleness and be men. The Gorean worldview is one of honesty and vitality, devoted to the joy of being alive. A Goreans’ caste, i.e. his career and its supporting industry, is a large part of his personal identity.

Goreans commonly exhibit good taste and aesthetic good sense. They are highly attuned to beauty when they encounter it. They appraise their women openly and without artifice. They feel that the rights and benefits of citizenship, like all things of worth, should be actively earned. The Gorean experiences life in an intense and personal way. He loves his world, and does not wish to do it harm, or see it destroyed. Honour is important to him. In some ways he is seen as cruel, but he does not lie or make excuses. Goreans are fond of children, and take pains to care for them. When Goreans discriminate against others, rather than due to race, they tend to do so based upon the city which one claims, their misuse of his language, or their caste… yet on the average they value all castes, and the work done by all.

Goreans are not tolerant of pretence. They insist upon having their own way, and experiencing their women to the ultimate degree possible. The Gorean refuses to accept that civilization must be based upon the denial of nature. Goreans do not celebrate sexual naivete or sexual repression.

Gorean men do not move, and think, in herds. They are highly individualistic. They value masculinity in men, and femininity in women, and refuse to repress either. The Gorean mindset is one of ambition, and freshness, and hope.

The Gorean measures his world from the inside outward, starting at what he can personally own and control. When Goreans are cruel, is it for a particular purpose. Goreans do not embrace the concept of modern, wholescale warfare on a continental scale, either in theory or in practice.

Gorean men are not patient with male slaves who willingly serve the whims of women.

Caste membership, as it exists to him, is indicative not only of career but of family trade.

Goreans believe that the welfare of the many is more important than the welfare of the few.

Many Gorean women are haughty and proud, some even to the point of veiling themselves from the prying eyes of the unworthy. Goreans value worthy free women greatly, and will honour them for it, by such actions as rising when they enter a room.

Goreans refuse to inhibit the sexuality of women who have embraced their slave-nature. Goreans do not celebrate sexual naivete. Rather, they appreciate sexual maturity and experience.

Goreans do not support the denial of anything’s true nature, nor do they long tolerate such repression when it appears before them. Goreans believe it is morally wrong to enslave what must, by its nature, be free to exist.

Goreans do not support the adoption of male insignia or customs by women, or vice versa. They see this as an attempt at gender unification, which lessens and degrades both sexes.

In women, Goreans celebrate their need for love, and the depth of their ability to express such love.

Even Gorean games, taught to Gorean youth, are such that they encourage courage, discipline, honour, and audacity.

Goreans do not appreciate any attempt to mess with their honour. Goreans disdain physical insecurities about their bodies, and stand close to one another in one-on-one interaction. Goreans are practical in areas of romance, and do not subscribe to fairy-tale notions of the relationship between men and women.

Gorean men are strong, powerful, uninhibited and uncompromising. They are proud of the fact that they are men. They refuse to be dictated to by their women.

Gorean artisans and craftsmen feel that they are simply the vessel through which their art flows, and are not overly vain about their abilities and talents.

Goreans believe in the value of order. They do not subscribe to anarchy. Goreans don’t understand why anyone would want to prevent another from being what they were created by nature to be. The Gorean believes that the world and all things in it are a living, breathing biological system of which he is a part, and does not subscribe to the belief that he is above it, or outside of it. He understands that he, too, is subject to nature and its forces.

A Gorean takes honour and truth very seriously. He can sometimes be fooled, or hoaxed, by those less honourable than himself… but he learns fast. He will not long tolerate being lied to.

That, in my opinion, pretty much says it all.

I add only the following:

I have been told that Norman’s work supports totalitarianism, and mass conformity beneath the heel of tyrants.

The following words are Norman’s. Is this man extolling the virtues of conformity?

“All creatures are not the same, not is it necessary that they should be. Jungles may be as appealing to nature as gardens. Leopards and wolves are as legitimately ingredient in the order of nature as spaniels and potatoes. Species unification, I suspected, would prove not to be a blessing, but a trap and a bane, a pathology and curse, a societal sanatorium in which the great and strong would be reduced to, or must pretend to be reduced to, the level of the blinking, the cringing, the creeping and the tiny. To be sure, values are involved here, and one must make decisions. It is natural that the small and weak will make one decision, and the large and strong another. There is no single humanity, no single shirt, no correct pair of shoes, no uniform, even a grey one, that will fit all men. There are a thousand humanities possible. He who denies this sees only his own horizons. He who disagrees is the denier of difference, and the murderer of better futures.”

pg.31, Savages of Gor

I have also been told that Norman must be a misogynist, and obviously hated all women.

Are these the words of a misogynist?

“Human females are such rich and wonderful creatures. Their sexual life, and feelings, are subtle, complex and deep. How naive is the man who believes that having sex with a woman is so little or so brief a thing as to fall within the parameters of a horizontal plane, the simple stimulations of a skin, the results attendant upon a simplistic manual dexterity. How woefully ignorant are the engineers of sexuality. How much to learn have even her artists and poets! Women are so inordinately precious. They are so sensitive, so beautiful, so intelligent and needful. No man has yet counted the dimensions of a woman’s love. Who can measure the horizons of her heart? Few things, I suspect, are more real than those which seem most intangible.”

pg.181-182, Blood Brothers of Gor

Again, I say it to any who might be reading this, who insist upon misinterpreting all that we say here, or who vehemently decry all we say without having the slightest understanding of what we are actually saying, or why we are saying it:



Then, make whatever judgement seems good to you.

To do less is to do a disservice to their author, and is an exercise in wilful intellectual dishonesty.

Truth not won is not possessed. We are not entitled to truths for which we have not fought, or for which we have not expended the effort to ascertain their possible validity by at least CONSIDERING them.

That is a Gorean Maxim.

I wish you well,


Back to The Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer Index

Copyright © 2006, 2002, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1997, 1996. Marcus of Ar. All rights reserved.

©2020 by Azrael Phoenix

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part VIII a)

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

8) Gorean Beliefs and a Definition of the Gorean Character – Introduction

What is the definitive source for what makes a person Gorean?

The definitive source?

I would think that the DEFINITIVE source would be John Norman, who, after all, created the world of Gor in the first place. Yes?

So… let’s go for that definitive answer. Or at least, the one which makes the most sense since it comes straight from the Gor books themselves.

If anyone examines the quotes below, all of which SPECIFICALLY allude to what Goreans believe (according to Norman), what Goreans do (according to Norman), or what Goreans are (according to Norman), and STILL refutes the author’s own definition of what is, and isn’t, Gorean, well, then, there’s not much I can do about that.

The evidence is there. Straight from the source of the whole thing, defined by its inventor.

To deny it is not only illogical, but, in a certain sense, somewhat deluded.

So… here we go. The following selection of quotes is made up of excerpts from the Gor books in which Norman either directly says “Goreans are…” or “Most Goreans believe…”, or whatever. Or those in which he compares and contrasts Earth beliefs against common Gorean ones, or in which he illustrates the reasons behind Gorean cultural mores and philosophical beliefs. They are presented in the same order as they appeared in the books, with included page numbers for reference or to enable a reader to research them further for context.

“We met in the centre of the room and embraced. I wept, and he did, too, without shame. I learned later that on this alien world a strongman may feel and express emotions, and that the hypocrisy of constraint is not honoured on this planet as it is on mine.”

pg.25, Tarnsman of Gor

“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 conveniently conduct their affairs. The Gorean senses, or believes, that a city cannot be simply identified with its material elements, which undergo their transformations even as do the cells of a human body. 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. 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 a 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.”

pg.22, Outlaw of Gor

“I was puzzled that the garb, like the helmet and shield, bore no insignia. This was contrary to the ways of Gor, for normally only the habiliments of outlaws and exiles, men without a city, lack the identifying devices of which the Gorean is so proud.”

pg.24, Outlaw of Gor

“The Gorean, having little idea of progress in our sense, takes great care in building and workmanship. What he builds he expects men to use until the storms of time have worn it to dust.”

pg.25, Outlaw of Gor

“According to the Gorean way of thinking pity humiliates both he who pities and he who is pitied. According to the Gorean way, one may love but one may not pity.”

pg. 31, Outlaw of Gor

“Unlike the men of Earth, the Gorean has little sensitivity to race, but much to language and city.”

pg.48, Outlaw of Gor

“The Gorean is suspicious of the stranger, particularly in the vicinity of his native walls.”

pg. 49, Outlaw of Gor

“Perhaps it should only be added that the Gorean master, though often strict, is seldom cruel. The girl knows, if she pleases him, her lot will be an easy one. She will almost never encounter sadism or wanton cruelty, for the psychological environment that tends to breed these diseases is largely absent on Gor.”

pg. 53-54, Outlaw of Gor

“Paradoxically, the Gorean, who seems to think so little of women in some respects, celebrates them extravagantly in others. The Gorean is extremely sensitive to beauty; it gladdens his heart, and his songs and art are often paeans to its glory.”

pg. 54, Outlaw of Gor

“…I was confident they [the downtrodden men of Tharna] could accomplish what they set their minds to, that they might succeed in tasks which the average Gorean male, with his impatience and lightness of heart, would simply abandon as distasteful or not worth the effort, for the average Gorean male, it must be admitted, tends to regard the joys of life somewhat more highly than its duties.”

pg.65, Outlaw of Gor

“I once asked a Gorean hunter whom I had met in Ar why the larl was hunted at all. I have never forgotten his reply. `Because it is beautiful,’ he said, `and dangerous, and because we are Goreans.’”

pg.20, Priest-Kings of Gor

“In all these kneeling positions, incidentally, even that of the Pleasure Slave, the Gorean woman carries herself well; her back is straight and her chin is high. She tends to be vital and beautiful to look upon.”

pg.46-47, Priest Kings of Gor

“The Tuchuks, not unlike Goreans in general, are fond of gambling.”

pg.60, Nomads of Gor

“The Gorean girl is, even if free, accustomed to slavery; she will perhaps own one or more slaves herself; she knows that she is weaker than men and what this can mean; she knows that cities fall and caravans are plundered; she knows she might even, by a sufficiently bold warrior, be captured in her own quarters and, bound and hooded, be carried by tarnback over the wall of her own city.”

pg.63, Nomads of Gor

“Aphris of Turia, pleased with herself, assumed her place between the merchant and Kamchak, kneeling back on her heels in the position of the Gorean Free Woman. Her back was very straight and her head high, in the Gorean fashion.”

pg.94, Nomads of Gor

“Goreans do not generally favor begging, and some regard it as na insult that there should be such, an insult to them and their city.”

pg.12, Assassin of Gor

“Goreans are extremely sensitive about names, and who may speak them.”

pg.12, Assassin of Gor

“I supposed the requirements of the slaves were high. Each of the girls, I suspected, would be vital and much alive. Each of them I knew was beautiful. Each of them I suspected would be intelligent, for Goreans, as the men of Earth commonly do not, celebrate quickness of mind and alertness in a girl.”

pg.125, Assassin of Gor

“The Goreans claim that in each woman there is a free companion, proud and beautiful, worthy and noble, and in each, too, a slave girl. The companion seeks for her companion; the slave girl for her master. It is further said, that on the couch, the Gorean girl, whether slave or free, who has had the experience, who has tried all loves, begs for a master. She wishes to belong completely to a man, withholding nothing, permitted to withhold nothing. ”

pg.102, Hunters of Gor

“Goreans, in their simplistic fashion, often contend, categorically, that man is naturally free and woman is naturally slave. But even for them the issues are far more complex than these simple formulations would suggest. For example, there is no higher person, nor one more respected, than the Gorean free woman… Goreans do believe, however, that every woman has a natural master or set of masters, with respect to whom she could not help but be a complete and passionate slave girl. These men occur in her dreams and fantasies. She lives in terror that she might meet one in real life.”

p.311, Hunters of Gor

“The Morality of Earth, from the Gorean point of view, is a morality which would be viewed as more appropriate to slaves that free men. It would be seen in terms of the envy and resentment of inferiors for their superiors. It lays great stress on equalities and being humble and being pleasant and avoiding friction and being ingratiating and small. It is a morality in the best interest of slaves, who would be only too eager to be regarded as the equals of others. We are all the same. That is the hope of slaves; that is what it is in their interest to convince others of. The Gorean morality on the other hand is more one if inequalities, based on the assumption that individuals are not the same, but quite different in many ways. It might be said to be, though this is over simple, a morality of masters. Guilt is almost unknown in Gorean morality, though shame and anger are not. Many Earth moralities encourage resignation and accommodation; Gorean morality is bent more toward conquest and defiance; many Earth moralities encourage tenderness, pity and gentleness, sweetness; Gorean morality encourages honour, courage, hardness and strength. To Gorean morality many Earth moralities might ask, `Why so hard?’ To these earth moralities, The Gorean ethos might ask, `Why so soft?’”

pg.8, Marauders of Gor

“Gorean enemies, if skilled, often hold one another in high regard.”

pg.70, Marauders of Gor

“I suddenly realized the supreme power of the united Gorean will, not divided against itself, not weak, not crippled like the wills of Earth. I felt a surge of power, of unprecedented, unexpected joy. I had discovered what it was to be Gorean. I had discovered what is was, truly, to be male, to be a man. I was Gorean.”

pg.290, Marauders of Gor

“`On Earth,’ I said, `women try to be identical with men.’ `Why should that be?’ asked the man. `Perhaps because there are few men,’ I said. `The male population is small?’ he asked. `There are many males,’ I said, `but few men.’ `I find this hard to understand,’ said the slave master. I smiled. `The distinction,’ I said, `makes little sense to a Gorean.’”

p.76, Tribesmen of Gor

“There is perhaps little to be said for the Gorean world, but in it men and women are alive. It is a world which I would not willingly surrender. It is a very different world from mine; in its way, I suppose it is worse; in its way, I know it is better. It is its own place, and not another’s. It is honest and real. In it there is good air.”

p.212, Slave Girl of Gor

“Caste is important to Goreans in a way that is difficult for members of a non-caste society to understand. Though there are doubtless difficulties involved with caste structure the caste situation lends an individual identity and pride, allies him with thousands of caste brothers, and provides him with various opportunities and services.”

pg.213, Slave Girl of Gor

“Goreans commonly exhibit good taste and aesthetic sense. Indeed, good taste and aesthetic good sense, abundantly and amply displayed, harmoniously manifested, in such areas as language, architecture, dress, culture and customs, seem innately Gorean. It is a civilization informed by beauty, from the tanning and cut of a workman’s sandal to the glazing’s intermixed and fused, sensitive to light and shadow, and the time of the day, which characterize the lofty towers of her beautiful cities.”

pg.215, Slave Girl of Gor

“Gorean men have a way of looking at women which is like stripping them and putting them to their feet.”

pg. 267, Slave Girl of Gor

“The youth of Earth have no Home Stone. Citizenship, interestingly, in most Gorean cities is conferred only upon the coming of age, and only after certain examinations are passed. Further, the youth of Gor, in most cities, must be vouched for by citizens of the city, not related in blood to him, and be questioned before a committee of citizens, intent upon determining his worthiness or lack thereof to take the Home Stone of the city as his own. Citizenship in most Gorean communities is not something accrued in virtue of the accident of birth but earned in virtue of intent and application.”

pg. 394, Slave Girl of Gor

“The Gorean, in general, regards many things in a much more intense and personal way than, say, the informed man of Earth. Perhaps that is because he is the victim of a more primitive state of consciousness; perhaps, on the other hand, we have forgotten things which he has not. Perhaps the world speaks only to those who a reprepared to listen… The man of Earth thinks of the world as being essentially dead; the Gorean thinks of his world as being essentially alive… He cares for his world; it is his friend; he would not care to kill it.”

pg.29-30, Beasts of Gor

“Honour is important to Goreans, in a way that those of Earth might find it hard to understand; for example, those of Earth find it natural that men should go to war over matters of gold and riches, but not honour; the Gorean, contrariwise, is more willing to submit matters of honour to the adjudication of steel than he is matters of riches and gold; there is a simple explanation for this; honour is more important to him.”

pg.42, Beasts of Gor

“In some respects the Gorean are, perhaps, cruel. Yet they have never seen fit, through lies, to inflict suffering on children. They seem generally to me to be fond of children. Perhaps that is why they seldom hurt them. Even slave children, incidentally, are seldom abused or treated poorly, and are given much freedom, until they reach their young adulthood.”

pg.155, Beasts of Gor

“Race, incidentally, is not a serious matter generally for Goreans, perhaps because of the intermixtures of people. Language and city, and caste, however, are matters of great moment to them, and provide sufficient basis for the discriminations in which human beings take such great delight.”

pg.156, Beasts of Gor

“`Gorean men,’ I said, `you will learn, are less tolerant of pretense than the men of Earth.’”

pg.202, Beasts of Gor

“`Goreans are not men of Earth,’ I said. `They will have what they truly want from a woman, everything.’”

pg.230, Beasts of Gor

“Civilization may be predicated upon the denial of human nature; it may also be predicated upon its fulfilment. The first word that na Earth baby learns is usually, `No.’ The first word that a Gorean baby learns is commonly, `Yes.’ The machine and the flower, I suspect, will never understand one another.”

p.37, Explorers of Gor

“`Why is it,’ she asked, `that the men of Gor do not think and move in herds, like those of earth?’ `I do not know,” I said. Perhaps they are different. Perhaps the culture is different. Perhaps it has to do with the decentralization of city states, the multiplicity of tradition, the diversity of the caste codes.’ `I think the men of Gor are different,’ she said.

pg. 333-334, Explorers of Gor

“`On Gor,’ she said, `we would not even break our male slaves as the men of Earth are broken.’”

p.73, Fighting Slave of Gor

“I sensed that in Gor there was a youth and openness which had long been missing from my old world. In Gor I sensed an ambition, a freshness and hope, and sparkle, that had perhaps not been felt on Earth since the Parthenon was new. Doubtless there is much on Gor to be deplored, but I cannot bring myself to deplore it. Doubtless Goris impatient, cruel and heartless, but yet, I think, too, it is innocent. It is like the lion, impatient, cruel, heartless and innocent. It is its nature. Gor was a strong-thewed world, a new world, a world in which men might again lift their heads to the sun and laugh, a world in which they might again, sensibly, begin long journeys. It was a world of which Homer might have sung, singing of the clashing of the metals of men and the sweetness of the wine-dark sea.”

p.89, Fighting Slave of Gor

“I think the explanation for the Gorean political arrangements and attitudes is the institution of the Home Stone. It is the Home Stone which, for the Gorean, marks the centre. I think it is because of their Home Stones that the Gorean tends to think of territory as something from the inside out, so to speak, rather than from the outside in. Consider again the analogy of the circle. For the Gorean the Home Stone would mark the point of the circle’s centre. It is the Home Stone which, so to speak, determines the circle.”

pg.145, Fighting Slave of Gor

“Total warfare, with its arming of millions of men, and its broadcasts laughter of hundreds of populations, is Gorean neither in concept nor in practice. Goreans, often castigated for their cruelty, would find such monstrosities unthinkable. Cruelty on Gor, though it exists, is usually purposeful, as in attempting to bring, through discipline and privation, a young man to manhood, or in teaching a female that she is a slave.”

pg.145, Fighting Slave of Gor

“Gorean men, I had learned, are not patient with [male] silk slaves.”

pg.181, Fighting Slave of Gor

“Caste membership, for Goreans, is generally a simple matter of birth; it is not connected necessarily with the performance of certain skills, nor the attainment of a given level of proficiency in such skills.”

pg.209, Fighting Slave of Gor

“The welfare of a larger number of individuals, as the Goreans reason, correctly or incorrectly, is more important than the welfare of a smaller number of individuals.”

p.210, Fighting Slave of Gor

“Many Gorean women, in their haughtiness and pride, do not choose to have their features exposed to the common view.”

p.41, Rogue of Gor

“Goreans place few impediments in the way of the liberation of a slave female’s sexuality.”

p.186, Rogue of Gor

“`The brutes of Gor have their way with you, as it pleases them,’ I said, `and you serve them well. Do you think the men of Earth should be content with less?’ `No, Master,’ she whimpered. `If the men of Earth choose to surrender the birth right of their dominance, to exchange it for the garbage of a political perversion; if they should choose to deny their genes; if they should choose to subvert and violate the order of nature; if they should choose self-castration to manhood, that is, I suppose, their business.’ `I do not know, Master,’ she said. `Provided, of course, that they are willing to accept such penalties as anxiety, guilt, misery, frustration, sickness and shortened lifespans.’ `I do not know, Master,’ she said. `A subverted nature cannot be expected not to retaliate,’ I said. `No, Master,’ she said. `Does a man have a right to be a man?’ I asked. `I suppose so,’ she said. `I do not know.’ `And are there not hierarchies among rights, and some which take priority over others?’ `Be kind to me, Master,’ she begged. `And is not the right of a man to be a man the highest right of such a sort that man possesses?’ `Yes,’ she said. `What right takes precedence over that?’ I asked. `None, Master,’ she said. `Has man,’ I asked, `the right to bring about his own downfall, to destroy himself?’ `He has the capacity, Master,’ she whispered, `but I do not think he has that right.’ `He does not have that right,’ I told her, `for it conflicts with the higher right.’ `Yes, Master,’ she said. `Rather,’ said I, `he has, beyond rights, duties, and high among his duties is his duty to be true to himself, his duty to be a man.’ `Yes, Master,’ she said. `The denial of his manhood, then, by a man, is not only irrational, but morally pernicious. Men have not only a right to preserve their manhood, but a duty to do so.’ `Perhaps there is no such thing as manhood,’ she whispered, `or womanhood.’ `Tell that,’ I said, `to strong men and yielding women, and history.’ `Perhaps there are no such things as duties, and rights,’ she said, `perhaps there are only the words, used as the instruments of manipulative rhetoric’s, devices of conditioning, cheaper and more subtle than guns and whips.’ `That is an interesting and profound possibility,’ I said, `but then there would still remain needs and powers, forces and desires, and the facts of the world, that certain courses of action lead to certain results, and that other courses of action lead to other results. And in such a world who will argue with the larl as to whether or not it should feed, or with a man as to whether or not he should be a man? In such a world the larl hunts, and the man is a man.’”

pg.152-153, Guardsman of Gor

“The men rose as one to their feet, for Gorean men commonly stand when a free woman enters a room.”

pg.255, Guardsmen of Gor

“`To be sure,’ I said, `’ white’ in the context of ‘white-silk girl’[virginity] tends less to suggest purity and innocence to the Gorean than ignorance, naivety, and a lack of experience.”

p.205, Savages of Gor

“Musicians on Gor, that is, those of the Caste of Musicians, are seldom, if ever, enslaved. Their immunity from bondage, or practical immunity from bondage, is a matter of custom. There is a saying to the effect that those who make music must, like the tarn, and the vosk gull, be free.”

pg.297-298, Kajira of Gor

“The insignia of men, like male garments, become empty mockeries when permitted to women. This type of thing leads eventually both to demasculinization of men and the defeminisation of females, a perversion of nature disapproved of generally, correctly or incorrectly, by Goreans. ”

pg.56, Mercenaries of Gor

“The most fundamental property prized by Goreans in women, I suppose, though little is said about it, is her need for love, and her capacity for love.”

p.322, Mercenaries of Gor

“Many Gorean games, incidentally, have features which encourage the development of properties regarded as desirable in a Gorean youth, such as courage, discipline, and honour. Similarly, some of the games tend to encourage the development of audacity and leadership.”

pg.278, Mercenaries of Gor

“It is seldom wise, incidentally, to impugn, or attempt to manipulate, the honour of a Gorean.”

pg. 297, Mercenaries of Gor

“In Gorean culture, generally, it seemed to me that people stood closer to one another than I was accustomed to on Earth. In this way it was natural for men here, for example, to stand much closer to the scantily clad slave than the average man of, say, northern Europe, on Earth, would be likely to, to a woman of his area. Indeed, he usually stands so close to her that it would be easy for him to put his hands on her, and draw her to him, taking her in his arms.”

pg.156, Dancer of Gor

“On Earth, as I understand it, there are certain romantic notions about, for example, that heroes may be expected to `win’ damsels in distress, so to speak, by the performance of certain heroic behaviours which, for example, might bode little good to dragons, evil wizards, wicked knights, and such. These damsels in distress, once rescued, are then expected to elatedly bestow their fervent affectations on the blushing, bashful heroes, and so on. Needless to say, in real life, to the disappointment, and sometimes chagrin, of the blushing, bashful heroes, this denouement often fails to materialize. Although such notions are not unknown on Gor, the average Gorean tends to be somewhat more practical and business like than the average hero of such stories, if we may believe the stories. For example, the damsel of Earth, if she found herself rescued on Gor, might not have to spend a great deal of time gravely considering whether or not to bestow herself on the rescuer. She might rather find her wrists, to her surprise, being chained behind her, her clothing being removed and a rope being put on her neck. She might then find herself hurrying along on foot, beside his mount, roped by the neck to his stirrup.”

p.99-100, Renegades of Gor

“From the girl’s point of view, of course, she whose sex has in effect been hitherto denied to her, and who has hitherto encountered only men of Earth, most of whom have been sexually reduced or crippled by negativistic conditioning programs, and instructed to rejoice in the fact, Gor comes as a revelation. There they find men who, for the most part, are quite different from those they are accustomed to on Earth, strong, powerful, uninhibited, uncompromising men, men who have never been subjected to pathological conditioning programs aimed at the taming or debilitation of the male animal and its instincts, men who have never been tricked into the surrender of their natural dominance, men who have retained their sovereignty, that mighty sovereignty in nature without which they cannot be men, without which women cannot be women.”

pg.444-445, Vagabonds of Gor

“Gorean men do not surrender their birth right as males, their rightful dominance, their appropriate mastery. They do not choose to be dictated to by females.”

p.51, Magicians of Gor

“I might also mention, in passing… that many Gorean artists do not sign or otherwise identify their works. The rationale for this seems to be a conviction that what it important is the art, its power, its beauty, and so on, and not who formed it.. Indeed many Gorean artists seem to regard themselves as little more than vessels or instruments, the channels or means, the tools, say, the chisels or brushes, so to speak, by means of which the world, with its values and meanings, in its infinite diversities, in its beauties and its powers, its flowers and its storms, its laughter’s and rages, its delicacy and awesomeness, its subtlety and grandeur, expresses itself, and rejoices.”

pg.107, Magicians of Gor

“The focus of the Gorean artist, then, at least on the whole, tends to be on the work of art itself, not on himself as artist. Accordingly his attitude toward his art is less likely to be one of pride than one of gratitude. This makes sense as, in his view, it is not so much he who speaks as the world, in its many wonders, great and small, which speaks through him. He is thus commonly more concerned to express the world, and truth, than himself.”

pg.108, Magicians of Gor

“`Is not everyone to be permitted anything?’ `No,’ said Marcus, `Freedom is for the free. Others are to be kept inline, and exactly so. Society depends on divisions and order, each element stabilized perfectly in its harmonious relationship with all others.’ `You do not believe, then,’ I asked, `that everyone is the same, or must be supposed to be such, despite all evidence to the contrary, and that society thrives best as a disordered struggle?’ Marcus looked at me, startled. `No,’ I said `I see that you do not.’

pg.119, Magicians of Gor

“He was not a fellow of Earth, he was Gorean. Too, he was of the Warriors, and his codes, in a situation of this sort, their weapons drawn, entitled him, even encouraged him, to attack, and kill.”

pg.169, Magicians of Gor

“`You are still troubled,’ said Marcus. `It is like seeing a larl tricked into destroying himself,’ I said, `as though he were told that the only good larl is a sick, apologetic, self-suspecting, guilt-ridden larl. It is like vulos legislating for tarns, the end of which legislation is the death of the tarn, or its transformation into something new, something reduced, pathological and sick, celebrated then as the true tarn.’ `I do not even understand what you are saying,’ said Marcus. `That is because you are Gorean,’ I said.”

pg. 173-174, Magicians of Gor

“The Gorean tends neither to view the world as a mechanical clockwork of independent parts, as a great, regular, predictable machine, docile to equations, obedient to abstractions, nor as a game of chance, inexplicable, meaningless and random at the core. His fundamental metaphor in terms of which he would defend himself from the glory and mystery of the world is neither the machine nor the die. It is rather, if one may so speak, the stalk of grass, the rooted tree, the flower. He feels the world alive and real. He paints eyes upon his ships, that they may see their way. And if he feels so even about these vessels, then so much more the awed and reverent must he feel when he contemplates the immensity and grandeur, the beauty, the power and the mightiness within which he finds himself.”

pg. 254-255, Magicians of Gor

“It might also be noted, interestingly, that the Gorean, in spite of his awe of Priest-Kings, and the reverence he accords them, the gods of his world, does not think of them as having formed the world, nor of the world being in some sense consequent upon their will. Rather the Priest-Kings are seen as being its children, too, like sleen, and rain and man.”

pg.255, Magicians of Gor

“A last observation having to do with the tendency of some Goreans to accept illusions and such as reality is that the Gorean tends to take such things as honour and truth very seriously. Given his culture and background, his values, he is often easier to impose upon than would be many others. For example, he is likely, at least upon occasion, to be an easier mark for the fraud and charlatan than a more suspicious, cynical fellow. On the other hand, I do not encourage lying to Goreans. They do not like it.”

pg. 255, Magicians of Gor

“Goreans are not stupid. It is difficult to fool them more than once. They tend to remember… there would always be the dupes, of one sort or another, and the opportunists, and the cowards, with the irrationalizations. But, too, I speculated, there would be those of Ar to whom the Home Stone was a Home Stone, and not a mere rock, not apiece of meaningless earth.”

pg.489, Magicians of Gor

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©2020 by Azrael Phoenix

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part VII

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

7) Ideal Qualities in a Gorean Male

Below are a few which immediately come to mind.

You will note that the intricacies of “morality” are left entirely out of the picture, as well they should be. “Morality” is dependent upon cultural rules and religious beliefs, whereas the ideal character of the consummate Gorean male seems to be found across all Gorean cultures and walks of life.

Therefore, according to the list below, both Tarl Cabot (hero to millions) and Surbus (nasty murdering pirate from book 6) fit the bill of the consummate Gorean male architype equally.

Which seems to me to be an indication that one does not have to be “a nice guy” to be Gorean. In fact, one can even be a total brute, hated and despised by others. Whether or not one is a pleasant fellow to hang out with is something that is determined after the fact; one qualifies for Gorean male FIRST, before any such decision is rendered.

Here is my personal list, in no particular order:

  • Strength, both physical and mental.
  • Intelligence.
  • Adaptability.
  • Tenaciousness.
  • Courage.
  • Honesty.
  • Endurance, both physical and mental.
  • Understanding of the natural order of things, as he sees it.
  • Willingness to maintain the natural order of things, as he sees it.
  • Self-sacrifice in order to maintain the natural order of things, as he sees it.
  • Suspicion towards what is alien; replaced over time with devotion to what has proved itself worthy to be included within his lexicon and world view.
  • Pragmatism, and willingness to accept the truth despite his personal agenda.
  • An overall love of life, and willingness to rush headlong into the living of it, draining each moment to its dregs, making no excuses and being the consummate male in all respects.
  • The refusal to bow before anyone or anything which is weaker than he.

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part VI

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

6) The Gorean Philosophy

The Gor books are an excellent source work which details a rather broad philosophical spectrum, but despite vehement debates regarding what it comprises, the message inherent in those books still seems to me to be a rather basic one. It might be broken down to the following statement:

Know who you are, be what you are, and do not be afraid to acknowledge what makes you tick. Strive to work with nature, rather than against it. Be proud of your accomplishments, work to improve yourself and to serve the citizens of your polis, and live boldly, with no regrets and as little guilt and insecurity as possible. And above all, acknowledge your weaknesses as well as your strengths, whether those weaknesses are based on either a physical or emotional plane. In other words, admit what you are, and simply be it to the best of your ability.

This basic philosophy is repeatedly hammered home, throughout the Gor series, through Norman’s descriptions of how Goreans think, how they behave, and their justification for their actions. Their very society, with its included caste system, seems structured to support this series of core beliefs. Even their many proverbs and aphorisms, such as “A man in his heart yearns for freedom, a woman in her belly yearns for love” and “Be strong and do as you will. The swords of others will set you your limits” extoll the virtues of a deeper understanding of one’s own natural place in the scheme of things, while encouraging boldness of action. The Goreans also believe that “A man is not a man who cannot think. But neither is he who can only think.” Goreans think for themselves, yet they do not confine themselves to mere mental pursuits: they act upon what they know. Goreans display their emotions openly and with the simple phrase “I did it because it pleased me to do so” they disdain the need for guilty excuses. Such Gorean behaviours, and a thousand others like them, reinforce their insistence upon the acceptance of one’s internal nature in microcosm, and the acknowledgement of the dictates of external nature in macrocosm.

Gorean Philosophy also proposes the following behaviours as being inherently correct beneath its aegis:

Be WHAT you are: Similar in many respects to a tenet set forth by the Earth philosopher Marcus Aurelius; namely that each thing which exists possesses its own unique singularity. When a thing attempts to be something it is not, problems arise. A man is a man; a woman is a woman; a tree is a tree; a flower is a flower. To the Gorean mind, it is foolish for anything to assume the properties of another thing. Therefore, each person is required to understand his or her basic nature, and to abide by it. According to such a tenet, therefore, it is assumed that there are needs, desires and activities which are specifically masculine, and those which are specifically feminine. Though the lines may blur at times, when all things are reduced to their basic forms, each thing is appreciated and celebrated for its own uniqueness, and is not forced to assume properties of another, different, thing.

Be WHO you are: This tenet applies in regard to a person’s existence in society and the caste structure. It takes into account the fact that everyone possesses certain talents and abilities from birth, regardless of their familial caste.

Therefore, upon Gor a person is free to alter or raise his or her caste on the basis of ability, though it is rarely done, since most Goreans value their familial caste as a badge of their clan identity. But the above principle also applies in regard to freedom and slavery. To the Gorean mindset, each person is born with a desire for freedom, and an innate slave nature. A person’s proper place in society is dependant upon how these two factors are balanced within the personality of that particular Gorean. Most Goreans believe that anyone who has within them a burning desire to exist free of strictures will not suffer slavery, dying rather than submitting to bonditude. A person who has within them a strong slave nature, the desire to be controlled and commanded, will eventually succumb to their inner need to serve others, free of all responsibility to things other than themselves and their service.

Obey the Natural Order of things: This tenet applies to the way Goreans view the world around them. They feel it is futile to attempt to disregard the effect of hundreds of generations of evolution. If a creature is naturally genetically equipped to fulfil a specific function in relation to another, then it is considered fitting and proper that such a creature be allowed to do so, even when such natural predisposition might result in stratification. In regards to human beings, it is understood that stronger, more intelligent, and more ambitious human beings will naturally assume a higher social strata in regards to their interaction with the less strong, less intelligent, and less ambitious.

In regard to male/female sexual relations, it is therefore the natural propensity of the male, who is genetically predisposed for physical dominance, to control certain physical aspects of his relationship to the female. In return, he is expected to behave as the hunter/provider, seeing to the protection of the female to insure the propagation of the race. Females, meanwhile, who tend to be smaller and less physically powerful, are expected to respect the biological truths of their lesser physical stature, while making the most of their genetic predisposition to serve and aid the male, and utilizing their superior emotional empathy and long-term endurance to do so while surviving and advancing the species. Not all women, therefore, are “slaves,” though the female sex is often referred to by Gorean males as “the slave sex.” Gorean females are simply expected to respect and understand that they are less able in areas requiring raw physical strength than their male counterparts, and adjust their behaviour accordingly. When one considers the fact that personal combat to the death is a daily occurrence throughout Gor, such behaviour among Gorean women is a wise practice to say the least.

Advancement of the Strong: This tenet is similar to that described above; it simply refers to the common Gorean belief that strength, whether it is physical strength, mental strength, or strength of will, should be celebrated and set forth as an example. In this way the Gorean feels he advances the human race, adding to its chances for survival and continued existence.

Diminishment of the Causes of Weakness: This principle acts as the inverse to the tenet described above. In order that the human species may grow stronger, it is necessary that the weaker and lesser adaptive elements of Gorean society be carefully controlled and encouraged to grow in strength and adaptability. Anti-social elements are to be excised from society through restriction of citizenship, or confined and rehabilitated. Warfare and enforced captivity are two methods by which this last end is accomplished upon the surface of the planet Gor.

Do what you will: This is one of the key principles to Gorean philosophy; basically, it means that every Gorean is expected to strive within the limits of his or her existence to achieve self-fulfilment and lasting happiness. A Warrior may draw his sword and lead an army to conquer a city, if he is strong enough and fit enough to do so. A free woman may attempt to contract a profitable companionship or to build a financial empire, if she is strong enough and clever enough. Even a slave is expected to seek her deepest self-fulfilment within the bonds of her Master’s chains. In such a manner, each Gorean is expected to strive and achieve something for the collective Gorean society, and struggle to attain perfection within the structure of that society. To the Gorean mind, there are always possibilities for advancement no matter what the situation.

Responsibility for One’s Actions: This tenet is based upon the Gorean concept of basic “cause and effect.” It is through the practice of this principle that the rest of the tenets listed above make sense, and function. This is the belief that everyone, no matter how great or humble, chooses the course of his or her destiny. When a warrior draws his sword, he can expect to suffer the consequences. When a Gorean submits to the bonds of slavery, he or she is expected to acknowledge and accept what occurs afterward. In such a way every choice made by every single Gorean is inextricably bound together with the choices of his or her fellow Goreans in a great interlinking web of cause and effect, a massive net of fate which moves the race forward into the future like an unstoppable juggernaut. Do whatever you want to, but expect it to effect you, either for good or ill. You are responsible for yourself. Excuses are futile and no one wants to hear them anyway. If you screw up, take your medicine, deal with the situation and move on to the next thing. The basic rules and maxims of the various caste codes and the fundamental principles of Gorean honour seem to be based mostly upon this concept; this, in effect, is the explanation for Gorean “cruelty.” Goreans are not cruel, they are practical. “That which does not kill them makes them stronger,” to paraphrase from Nietzsche. If you wear the collar of a slave, look like a slave, act like a slave, and do not either fight your way to freedom or die in the attempt, then you must really be one. In any case, you most probably were free at one point… so what happened? You either needed to be a slave, were too weak to stay free, or screwed up really badly somewhere along the way. Whatever the case, deal with it. Life is not fair, and most Goreans are far to practical to try to make it so. Life sucks. If you get hit on the head, don’t waste time crying about it… accept it and next time wear a helmet.

Stratification by Natural Process: Superior strength– be it strength of will, strength of body, or strength of mind– will tend naturally to manifest itself among ordered human groupings. Even particulars such as sexual gender do not universally define how matters of strength are involved in the stratification process. Anyone who is stronger will naturally assume a position of dominance, be it mental or physical, over those weaker or less willing to match themselves in human dominance struggles. Therefore, it is categorically incorrect to assign presumed dominance or blanket superiority over anyone, or any one grouping, within the human condition, since these matters tend to be somewhat situational. While human beings are defined to a great extent by their sex, there is no “dominance gene” nor is there any “submission gene.” There are only combinations of heritable genes, each of which will render the individual more prone to certain behaviours than others. These genetic leanings can be circumvented, though typically the act of doing so is costly, both to the individual involved and to the system in which he or she functions.

The final tenet, listed above, has only one interpretation: if anyone, be they male or female, possesses the ability to dominate others, he or she will naturally tend to do so when the opportunity presents itself, even against his or her pre-existent genetic propensities. It is when the dominance factor clashes with the biologically ingrained sexual selection behaviours, and circumvents pre-programmed sexual-based survival behaviours, that the human being becomes, to paraphrase Norman, “a mass of conflicting drives and emotions, more prone to heightened mental stress, physical illness, psychological disease and a substantially shortened lifespan.

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part V

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

5) The Gorean Theory

The Gorean Theory is the belief that modern Homo Sapiens has inherited certain genetic propensities from the ancestral past, and that these genetic propensities still actively manifest themselves in numerous areas of human behaviour, often in direct opposition to cultural restrictions and behavioural management systems which fail to take them into account. These propensities translate into behaviours which result in a certain measurable cause and effect relationship in regards to many elements of human interaction, notably male/male competition behaviours and both male and female sexual reproductive strategies.

Ergo, by gaining a greater understanding of those genetic propensities and by acting, where possible, in a manner through which those propensities are fulfilled rather than repressed, one might reasonably expect to reduce stress-causing confusion issues in one’s life and live in a more fulfilled and personally satisfactory manner.

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part IV

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

4) The Ten Irrefutable Dicta of the Gorean Philosophy

The following is a list of the ten primary dicta, or explanatory statements, of the “Gorean Philosophy,” as I see it. You will note there is no reference to the practice of slavery among them. That is because the practice of slavery is not a primary pillar of the Gorean philosophy; rather it is a social practice which has come into being on Gor as a result of specific technological limitations, Gorean economic imperatives, and the persistent adherence of Goreans to the basic concepts explained below.

Nor is the word “honour” used. That is because honour is also a concept and practice which has developed among the Goreans as a result of the application of the dicta below, notably the fifth and sixth dictums.

I add that, to the typical inhabitant of the world of Gor, the concepts expressed below would be so self-evident they wouldn’t even bother to name or define them at all. They would simply practice them, as the Gor books tell us they do. The “Ten Dicta” below have been compiled purely for the benefit of the inhabitants of Earth, who, bereft of the supporting mechanism of Gorean society, are left to fumble through the murky landscape of Earth, attempting to find such rules and concepts to use as guideposts as they attempt to glean the truths of Gorean existence for themselves.

Please note that accepting these dicta do not automatically make one “Gorean.” There are, undoubtedly, quite a few people out there who do accept these concepts in some way, shape or form, who have never even heard of “Gor” and who have no idea that the Gorean Philosophy even exists. Also, one might embrace these dicta while refusing to acknowledge the other elements which combine to comprise the Gorean Philosophy in its entirety, in which case, again, one is not getting the whole picture. However, in my opinion, the refusal to accept and embrace the dicta listed below DO make a person absolutely NOT Gorean.

So, if one wishes to be Gorean, or to understand what it means to be Gorean, one might do well to examine the ideas expressed below and decide whether or not one agrees with them.

All of the concepts below, with the exception of the tenth, are distilled almost directly from the words of Tarl Cabot, in his description of the manner in which Goreans think. The tenth one is simply and categorically self-evident.

The First Dictum

We are all creatures formed from nature, and are therefore subject to the truths of what it has made of us. This cannot be denied.

The Second Dictum

We are all part of our world, and the natural forces which made it. We are not apart from it, nor are we above it, nor can we deny its power over us. It is folly to attempt to change what cannot be changed, or to refuse to acknowledge the power which nature has over us. This cannot be denied.

The Third Dictum

The two sexes, male and female, are equal parts of the same great whole which is the human race. Equal, but separate, each bound to perform the function which it has evolved into through the course of time. This cannot be denied.

The Fourth Dictum

The greatest division which exists between human beings is the division of sex. Race, creed, nationality… all pale to insignificance when compared to the difference between the two sexes. This cannot be denied.

The Fifth Dictum

The highest devotion is the devotion to truth. The most beneficial acceptance is the acceptance of what is true. The most foolish and damaging act one can perform is the denial of what is true. Such denial is the wellspring from which the ravages of discontent emerge. This cannot be denied.

The Sixth Dictum

Conflict, argument, and clannishness are all fundamental parts of our human nature. Left to their own devices, such things result in stagnation and destruction. But when understood and harnessed in the service of the greater good, they can be a positive force for personal growth and development. This cannot be denied.

The Seventh Dictum

In matters of physical strength, the human male is naturally equipped by nature to function at a higher level of efficiency than the human female. In matters of emotional sensitivity and the innate desire to care for and nurture those she loves, the human female is naturally equipped by nature to function at a higher level of efficiency than the human male. The human male is programmed to protect and direct his female counterparts. The human female is programmed to aid and care for her male counterparts. The members of each sex are more fulfilled when they accept their own nature, rather than denying it. This cannot be denied.

The Eighth Dictum

All creatures will naturally behave according to their inherent nature. To do otherwise is the first step toward emotional and biological suicide. This cannot be denied.

The Ninth Dictum

Human society, like the natural order, will naturally structure itself along certain lines of precedence. The stronger and more able elements of human society will naturally rise to a position of superiority over the less dominant elements of society. The protectors and providers will naturally protect and provide, and the nurturers and care givers will naturally nurture and give care. Any artificial manipulation of the natural structure of a society, which is not according to its natural propensities, will eventually result in a society which is far less efficient and fulfilling than its natural counterpart. This cannot be denied.

The Tenth Dictum

The Gorean societal model is based upon specific guidelines set forth by John Norman in the books which he authored regarding the fictional planet Gor. Unless it conforms to, or agrees with, those basic guidelines, a thing cannot be considered “Gorean” in any sense of the word. This cannot be denied.

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part III

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

3) The Gorean Argument

3a) Men and women are not identical. In fact, the two sexes are almost completely different in every way. They look different, think different, act different, feel different, and respond to two completely different emotional response-systems. Each sex has its own preprogramed agenda, its own requirements for personal fulfilment, and its own methods of communicating. This difference between the two sexes has its roots in the basic biology of the human race, a biology which has been shaped through evolution to predispose each sex toward certain behavior and emotional conditions. According to Norman (and medical science), no single cell of a male’s body is identical to any single cell of a female’s body (except for small quantities of clear serum).

3b) Human males are biologically predisposed toward physical dominance over human females, who are, on the average, physically smaller and less strong than their male counterparts.

3c) The process of evolution has naturally selected for strong, competitive males and females who were both desirable to such men, and who were in turn attracted to such men.

3d) The vestiges of countless millennia of this selection process still exist within each of us, and we are all therefore subject to emotional needs and instinctive drives which our present society does not provide for.

3e) Since males and females all seem to be subject to certain drives and needs which were bred into them during a period of time when women were effectively within the physical power of men, doesn’t it make sense that if that situation were recreated somehow, then the two sexes might attain a specific degree of fulfilment which would otherwise be denied to them? Wouldn’t they then be accepting a part of their own inherent nature rather than denying it?

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part II

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

2) The First Underlying Principle of Gorean Perception

The Acknowledgement of Difference”:

The understanding and acceptance that all human beings are not inherently identical in form or function, nor is it logical that they be expected to be so.

For more details, see the posts:

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – Part I

This is part of the work on the Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

1) The Three Essential Gorean Virtues

Their names, and more importantly, their correct Gorean definitions:


The state, property, or quality of being strong. Capacity or potential for effective action.


The state of being unimpaired. The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.


Enthusiasm or intensity. Capacity for natural growth and survival.

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The Principles of Gorean Thought – A Primer

Marcus of AR is a well known writer regarding the lifestyle of Gor and it’s philosophy!

On the ongoing process of making available several of his amazing texts, I decided to organise this wonderful work: “The Principles of Gorean Thought”, divided into several sections for easier read:

  1. The Three Essential Gorean Virtues
  2. The First Underlying Principle of Gorean Perception
  3. The Gorean Argument
  4. The Ten Irrefutable Dicta of the Gorean Philosophy
  5. The Gorean Theory
  6. The Gorean Philosophy
  7. Ideal Qualities in a Gorean Male
  8. Gorean Beliefs and a Definition of the Gorean Character

This is another collection of amazing texts and information, directly focused to help us all understand better our nature and the truth about the Gorean Lifestyle and the Natural Order.

I wish you well!

©2020 by Azrael Phoenix

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