Introduction   |   Table of Contents   |   Updates   |   Stories   |   Links   |   Contact Luther


(Essay #91)  

    
"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)

 

Introduction

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)


Villages

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.


Thurnock

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.

                        
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
1