Effectively understanding the Gorean mindset requires a comprehension of the differences between Gorean society and Earth society. Civilized Gorean society has three primary societal institutions that differ from most of Earth. By civilized Gor, I mean the cities, towns and villages of Gor. It does not include the barbaric lands of such people as the Torvaldslanders, the Wagon Peoples, the Red Savages, or the Red Hunters. These three differences permeate Gorean society and make it a vastly different world from Earth. They are not the only differences but they are very important matters and may be difficult for Earth people to understand.
These three pillars of civilized Gor are the Home Stone, Caste System and Slavery. Earth has nothing comparable to the concept of the Home Stone. The patriotism of a nation of Earth to its flag, or other national symbol, is a pale comparison to the concept of the Home Stone. India is one of the last bastions on Earth with a caste system though it is still radically different from the system used on Gor. Slavery exists in some corners of Earth but nowhere even close to the nature and extent as it exists on Gor. Thus, without further explanation, one may not possess an adequate foundation to truly grasp the nature of these Gorean institutions.
"Do not ask a Gorean what the Home Stone means because he will not understand your question. It will puzzle him. It is the Home Stone." (Magicians of Gor, p.485-6)
To define the concept of a Home Stone is a difficult, if not impossible, task. It is a cultural concept that resists definition by outsiders and needs no definition within its own society. "But I think, often, that it is a mistake to try to translate the Home Stone into meanings. It is not a word, or a sentence. It does not really translate. It is, more like a tree, or the world. It exists, which goes beyond, which surpasses, meaning. In this primitive sense the Home Stone is simply that, and irreducibly, the Home Stone. It is too important, too precious to mean. And in not meaning, it becomes, of course, the most meaningful of all." (Magicians of Gor, p.485) Thus, it is almost a contradiction to try to define it here, as it may be unfathomable to nonGoreans. But, I shall try to provide such clarification as to the basics of the Home Stone though this may be insufficient in truly defining the concept.
Goreans view their cities as almost
living things. They see a city as an entity with a history, tradition,
heritage, customs, practices, character, intentions, and hopes. To be
"of" a city gives a person a sense of immortality though Goreans
know that even a city can be destroyed. This love of their city is invested in
the Home Stone, which in many respects is the very soul of a city. The Home
Stone is a valuable symbol of sovereignty and territory. The very term
"Gor" means Home Stone in all of the languages of Gor. It should
also be mentioned that in the books, the term "Home Stone" is always
capitalized and separated into two words.
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. It is a complex entity, with many varied layers. "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) Cities instill great loyalty and pride within their citizenry. As many Goreans rarely travel, their city may be the only location they ever truly know. Thus, the city is the center of their lives, the focal point of their existence. And thus, citizens work hard to defend their city and make it prosper.
A Home Stone is an actual stone and can be of various shapes, sizes, materials and colors. There are no standards for them and a Home Stone could be the most simple and common of rocks. A Home Stone could also be an intricately carved, valuable stone while others simply have a single letter etched into them, often the initial letter of the city. Some large cities have small stones, though the stones are of great antiquity. By tradition, the Home Stone of Ar, allegedly over ten thousand years old, is accepted as being the oldest Home Stone on Gor. Other cities have only recently acquired a Home Stone. For instance, Port Kar only acquired their Home Stone in 10120 C.A., during the events of Raiders of Gor. A rock was picked up off the street and given to Tarl Cabot who then etched the initials of the city into it. Next, he presented it to the people of Port Kar who chose to accept it as their own. The acquisition of a Home Stone can be that simple. Basically, all it takes to create a Home Stone is for someone or a group to choose to have one. When Tarl offered the Home Stone to the people of Port Kar, it transformed them, unifying them when they faced a dire enemy who sought to conquer their city. It may seem like merely a rock, but it is a very potent symbol.
The history of the concept of the Home Stone extends back thousands of years. Its actual origin is unknown but there are some theories as to its creation. It is said that long ago, peasants used to construct circular huts, built around a flat stone. This stone would be carved with their family sign and eventually was called a Home Stone. Thus, each peasant, within his own hut, became a sovereign. "A palace without a Home Stone is a hovel; a hovel with a Home Stone is a palace." (Slave Girl of Gor, p.142) Over time, as communities developed and expanded, the use of Home Stones extended to cover and unite villages, then towns and cities. In a village, the central Home Stone would be commonly placed in the central market area. In a city, the central Home Stone was usually placed freely in the top of the highest tower, often the Central Cylinder, though it was kept well guarded.
There are also several mythical accounts of the origin of the Home Stone. One of the most common of these stories revolves around the actions of Hesius, the mythical first man of Gor.
"One popular account has it that an ancient hero, Hesius, once performed great labors for Priest-Kings, and was promised a reward greater than gold and silver. He was given, however, only a flat piece of rock with a single character inscribed upon it, the first letter in the name of his native village. He reproached the Priest-Kings with their niggardliness, and what he regarded as their breach of faith. He was told, however, that what they gave him was indeed worth far more than gold and silver, that it was a 'Home Stone.' He returned to his native village, which was torn with war and strife. He told the story there, and put the stone in the market place.
'If the Priest-Kings say this is worth more than gold and silver,' said a wise
man, 'it must be true.'
"Ours,' responded Hesius.
Weapons were then laid aside, and peace pledged. The name of the village was 'Ar.' (Dancer of Gor, p.302)
Where a man sets his Home Stone down on a piece of land, he is claiming by law that land for himself. "The Home Stone says this place is mine, this is my home." (Magicians of Gor, p.485) The Home Stone is integrally linked to a certain territory, from as small as a tiny hut to as large as a great city. Yet its power extends beyond that territory as well. For a Home Stone can be moved though that is rarely done. It most often occurs when the territory covered by the Home Stone is seriously threatened. Rather than allow the Home Stone to be conquered, taken as booty, the Home Stone may be secreted away. Thus, if a city is attacked, conquered and destroyed, then it may not signal a final death knell as long as the Home Stone survives. For example, when Ko-ro-ba was completely destroyed by an edict of the Priest-Kings, Matthew Cabot retained the Home Stone, thus keeping the city alive. Even though its citizens were scattered all over Gor and no building stood on the spot where the city once was, the survival of the Home Stone ensured that the city still survived. Ko-ro-ba would later be rebuilt around its Home Stone at its original location.
There is a hierarchy of Home Stones as a
person could be subject to multiple Home Stones. For example, a man may
possess a household Home Stone but also live in a village that possesses its
own Home Stone. The common bond of the Home Stone unites its people and they
will support and protect all those who share their Home Stone. Even bitter
enemies will assist each other to defend a shared Home Stone.
sharing of a Home Stone is no light thing in a Gorean city." (Slave Girl
of Gor, p.394)
Some Goreans desire a single supreme Home Stone for all of Gor
though such a dream, considering the fierce independence of Goreans, is very
unlikely to ever occur. Some people though believe that the Priest Kings
possess such a Home Stone, which is also the source of their great power.
The Home Stone is the center of various rituals within the cities such as the Planting Feast of Sa-Tarna. Each city has a citizenship ceremony where individuals, who reach the age of intellectual majority, swear an oath of allegiance to their city while touching or kissing the Home Stone. You cannot be a citizen of a city without pledging yourself to its Home Stone and you may not be pledged to the Home Stones of two different cities. You cannot possess such a split loyalty. You can renounce your Home Stone and change your citizenship to another city but this is rarely done. Loyalty to one's Home Stone is firmly engrained in most people so such an idea is almost incomprehensible.
Stealing a Home Stone is a heinous sacrilege and punishable by the most painful and torturous of deaths. But, it is also considered one of the greatest glories to steal a Home Stone from another city. In Tarnsman of Gor, Tarl Cabot stole the Home Stone of mighty Ar. This earned him glory in the eyes of many though the city of Ar wished him to die horribly. Even when Tarl and Marlenus became almost friends, Marlenus could not forgive him for the prior offense of stealing the Home Stone. As Ubar, Marlenus could never do so. The theft of a Home Stone is devastating to a city, almost as if you have torn its very soul from it. It most often means the death of a city, or at least a terrible decline.
But, stealing a Home Stone is not an easy task as it engenders great reservoirs of strength in those who cherish it. "One does not lightly dispute the passage of one who carries his Home Stone." (Nomads of Gor, p.1) Even a trained warrior would be very wary of the lowest of Castes who were carrying their Home Stone. The loyalty and pride in your Home Stone seems to release floodgates of hidden strengths. When it is directly threatened, a Gorean is able to overcome many obstacles to ensure its safety, ".., for in the vicinity of their Home Stone men fight with all the courage, savagery and resourcefulness of the mountain larl." (Outlaw of Gor, p.29)
A Home Stone unifies the people of a
city. It is more important than caste prejudices or other forms of prejudice.
It inspires intense loyalty; great enough that most would die to protect it.
It is said that:
"Indeed, there is a saying on Gor, a saying whose origin
is lost in the past of this strange planet, that one who speaks of Home Stones
should stand, for matters of honor are here involved, and honor is respected
in the barbaric codes of Gor." (Tarnsman of Gor, p.27)
This is sometimes
taken to an extreme where a man might even be killed if he does not stand out
of respect when he speaks of his Home Stone. There is no symbol on Earth that
has a similar function to a Home Stone. Patriotism to a flag is but a pale
analogy to the Home Stone. Goreans look down on Earth because there are no
Home Stone there. They also believe that the lack of a Home Stone means that
there are no legal reasons why the people of Earth cannot be enslaved.
"But let me not try to speak of Home Stones. If you have a Home Stone, I need not speak. If you do not have a Home Stone, how could you understand what I might say?" (Fighting Slave of Gor, p.145)
The Gorean society of the city-states has a firmly established Caste System and almost all Free Persons of these city-states belong to a Caste. The Caste system is a vital component of civilized Gorean society. The Gorean Caste system is not based on the caste system of India but rather derives its inspiration from Plato's The Republic. In its most basic form, a Gorean Caste constitutes your profession though that is a vast oversimplification. Your Caste also defines your codes of conduct, provides certain benefits, limits those you would normally interact with socially, sets your place within the Gorean societal hierarchy, and much more. Your Caste defines much of who you are on Gor, far more than any job or profession on Earth ever would. It is an integral part of many different aspects of your life. One's loyalty to their Caste is also extremely important.
There are three basic categories that exist outside of the Caste system: Priest-Kings, outlaws and slaves. Priest-Kings are the "gods" of Gor, the mysterious overseers who live hidden beneath the Sardar Mountains. Few Goreans know their true nature and the Priest-Kings fervently protect their secrets. Priest-Kings are considered to be "above caste." Outlaws, who have relinquished caste, are considered to be "out of caste." Slaves, who are legally considered property, cannot have any Caste so they are considered to be "below caste" or "aside from caste" or "apart from caste." In general, those who do possess Caste look upon most of those without a Caste with disdain.
There are some others who do not fall into one of these three major categories but whom are still outside of the Caste system. Some people have lost their Caste for various reasons. For example, a slave who is freed has no Caste upon manumission. They must petition to join a Caste, even if they had belonged to a Caste before they had been enslaved. A few people are born outside of the Caste system such as the children of an outlaw. A few occupations are not associated with a Caste such as gardening, domestic service and herding. Some of these people still have a connection to a Home Stone and thus are not in the same predicament as an outlaw though their lack of a Caste is detrimental in various ways. They do not have the benefit of the support system of a Caste. Such a support system can be greatly beneficial in handling the difficulties of Gorean life.
We must also consider the barbarian cultures outside of civilized Gor, as they do not possess a Caste system either. But these peoples are traditionally considered barbarians and most civilized Goreans consider them little more than savages. The barbarian cultures of Gor include such peoples as the Wagon Peoples, Torvaldslanders, Red Savages, Red Hunters, the tribes of the jungles near Schendi and the tribesmen of the Tahari. It is the people of the cities who can afford to be specialists within a Caste system. For the barbarian cultures, survival is a primary concern and thus they must become generalists to increase their chances of survival. Even when some of these barbarians possess a specialized skill, they still possess the general skills as well. All of these barbarians are not considered outlaws though and are not subject to impalement if they try to enter a city.
The acquisition of a Caste is primarily governed by one's birth. Children automatically assume the Caste of their father. Even if their mother has a different Caste than their father, they will initially take on the Caste of their father. Once they reach the age of majority, they may be able to change their Caste. Birth automatically grants a person access to numerous benefits of the Caste but it does not guarantee that person will be able to practice the work of that Caste. To be able to practice within a Caste generally requires an apprenticeship. There are also a few Castes which one is not born into and where you must actively apply for membership within that Caste. These would include the Initiate, Player and Assassin Castes.
The opportunity for upward mobility within the Caste system exists though such advances are not common, more out of choice than circumstance. It would be even rarer for a Gorean to willingly lower their Caste. Changing your Caste is generally not an easy task. Free Companionship though is a relatively simple method for free women to change their Caste. Normally, such relationships remain within the same Caste. But, if a relationship is of mixed Caste, the woman can keep her own Caste or take her partner's Caste. This can serve to raise her Caste, even from a Low Caste to a High Caste. But, a man cannot reap the same benefit from a Free Companionship, as he cannot take on the Caste of his female Companion. Generally, a woman would not change her Caste to a lower one. Though her Caste changes, a woman cannot now fully practice her new Caste until she had been properly trained and met any other prerequisites. That would apply as well to men who changed their Caste.
Another way for a man or a woman to change their Caste is through merit, by evidencing the aptitude for another Caste. Such a person could apply to change their Caste, either raising it or lowering it. To willingly change their Caste, the High Council of their city must commonly approve the change, based on the petitioner's qualifications for the new Caste and the willingness of the new Caste to accept that person. Proper bribes could make this process easier, even if the candidate's qualifications were lacking in some degree. In this process, women are assessed by the same criteria as men though this does vary from city to city. Your Caste can also be lowered involuntarily if you show a lack of aptitude for your Caste. Children are often assessed during their schooling to ascertain their suitability for their Caste. These children could be potentially promoted to a higher Caste or demoted to a lower one.
To most Goreans, it is unthinkable to alter their Caste. Goreans are very proud of their Caste, even Peasants and simple laborers. It is recognized that all, or at least most, Castes perform necessary, useful or laudable tasks. Their skills are appreciated by others and not generally looked down on. Each Caste views itself as special in some way and each Caste has its place and worth in Gorean society. For example, the Metal Workers state: "Where would the dwellers of cities be without us?" (Dancer of Gor, p.293) This is their way of saying that their skills are essential for civilization. Even the lowest Caste, the Peasants, consider themselves the "Ox on Which the Home Stone Rests." They are the ones that provide most of the food for all the other Castes, an essential endeavor. Few would dispute the importance of such Castes as the Metal Worker and Peasant Castes.
Despite this respect for the place of
each Caste within Gorean society, Caste discrimination is still common.
"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." (Beasts of Gor, p.156)
look down on Castes lower than themselves in the hierarchy of Castes. In
addition, many Castes segregate themselves and do not often mix with other
Castes. Entertainment and Free Companionships generally follow Caste lines.
There are paga taverns that cater to the different Castes and a Peasant would
not dare enter a High Caste tavern. Many Castes will not use the Long Bow
because it is seen as a Peasant weapon and beneath higher Castes. The Low
Castes are generally not permitted to vote or be on the High Councils of the
cities. The Double Knowledge is also a method of discrimination meant to keep
the Lower Castes in their place. The Castes are ranked from Highest to Lowest,
which alone signifies that some are superior to others.
Castes are divided into High Castes and Low Castes. There are commonly only five High Castes and include the Initiates, Scribes, Builders, Physicians and Warriors, which is also their ranking in order of importance. Each High Caste, like all Castes, has its own Caste color, respectively white, blue, yellow, green, and red. There are subcastes of some of these castes. For example, Cartographers and Lawyers are two subcastes of the Caste of Scribes. Only members of the High Castes are permitted to vote in elections for the Administrator and Council of a city. In some places, the Merchants consider themselves to be a High Caste and this belief is sometimes supported by certain cities.
The Low Castes include all of the other established Castes. These include such Castes as Assassins, Bakers, Bleachers, Carriers of Wood (also known as Woodsmen), Charcoal Makers, Cloth Worker, Cosmeticians, Dyers, Goat-Keepers, Growers of Rence (also known as Rencers), Leather Workers, Merchants, Metal Workers, Musicians, Peasants, Poets, Potters, Saddle Makers, Singers, Smiths, Tarn Keepers, Tharlarion Keepers, Vintners, and Weavers. There are many more Castes and some subcastes. The Low Castes are ranked in order of importance though the exact hierarchy is not clearly defined in the books. The Peasant Caste though is stated to be the lowest Caste in the system.
The lines between Caste and subcaste are sometimes vague and the subcaste may even consider itself to be a separate Caste though legally it is not. For example, the Slaver Caste is legally a subcaste of the Merchant Caste though they often consider themselves a separate Caste. Each Caste has its own Caste colors and some subcastes also have their own Caste colors. These colors are often publicly worn, as people are proud of their Caste. Free women do not always wear their caste colors though, sometimes reserving their use for formal or ceremonial functions. Men, as well, may choose not to wear their Caste colors unless they are actively engaged in Caste work.
There are a number of key differences between the High and Low Castes. First, each learns a different type of knowledge concerning their world and this system is referred to as the Double Knowledge. The Low Castes learn the First Knowledge, a simpler knowledge with a number of falsehoods and half-truths. They learn that the world is flat and are not taught of the existence of Earth. The High Castes possess the Second Knowledge. They know about Earth and most of the true information about Gor though they know little of the true nature of the Priest-Kings. It is thought that most of them are educated enough to have uncovered these truths on their own anyway. Some people believe that there may be a Third Knowledge, that belonging to the Priest Kings, a knowledge of the many secrets of Gor. This has some validity as there are secrets concerning Gor that are not covered by the Second Knowledge and which are known by the Priest-Kings.
The Low Castes are also very superstitious. For example, they are reluctant to reveal their true names. They thus have both a 'use name' and a real name. The use name is the name they present to the public, the name most commonly used to refer to them. Often only close relatives know their real name. High Castes usually use their names freely though the Low Castes believe they have use names as well. Knowing a real name supposedly gives one power, a capacity to use the name in spells and other magical rituals. Many of the Low Castes believe in the powers of wizards and sorcerers so they do worry about such matters. Even the Initiates are said to possess vast magical powers. The High Castes encourage the superstitions of the Low Castes and it also forms a part of the First Knowledge.
There is an accent that differentiates the speech of the High and Low Castes; though some of the higher artisan Castes speak almost like the High Castes. Illiteracy is common on Gor and is not taken as a mark of stupidity. Literacy usually follows by Caste lines and many Goreans of the Low Castes cannot read. Even some of the High Castes, primarily Warriors, may be illiterate. Some Warriors feel that they should not be literate so they hide the fact that they can read and write. Society has adapted due to the high illiteracy rate so many stores have picture signs to indicate their services. For example, a tavern may have the picture of a goblet on a sign outside. Goreans also often possess extensive mnemonic abilities that allow them to remember prodigious amounts of information.
Not every occupation on Gor is an actual Caste or subcaste. Some are simply a titled position that may have little to do with any actual Caste. For example, a person of any Caste (though most likely only a High Caste) may be an Ambassador. An Ambassador is not a Caste or subcaste; it is simply a titled office. Other titles may be more closely connected to a Caste though they do not form an actual subcaste. For example, a city guardsman may be a Warrior but his position does not constitute an actual subcaste.
Generally, except for the Assassin Caste, you must be sworn to a Home Stone to belong to a Caste. You cannot belong to a Caste in a city unless you also belong to the Home Stone of that city. Each city-state has their own Caste system and each specific Caste has its own hierarchy particular to that city. For example, the Warrior Caste of Ar and the Warrior Caste of Treve are separate Castes. Ar and Treve will each have their own First Swords. Almost the only time that people from the same Caste, but of different cities, might ever meet to discuss Caste issues is at any of the four annual Sardar Fairs. The Sardar Fairs are a very important time for Castes to share information especially such Castes as the Scribes, Physicians and Builders. They can share new discoveries, inventions and techniques. They can work towards more standardization in their practices. The Castes often take advantage of this opportunity though they may not always agree on some matters.
A person may only belong to a one Caste at any time. Possessing dual Castes is not permitted on Gor. Caste loyalty is far too important on Gor for someone to have dual loyalties by belonging to multiple Castes. If someone changes their Caste they obviously do not lose any knowledge or skills they acquired from the first Caste. But there might be some restrictions on their use of those previously acquired skills. For example, a Physician who became a Warrior might not be permitted any longer to operate in hospitals owned by the Physician's Caste. But, that Physician would still retain his medical knowledge and skills. By law, the practice of certain Caste skills is also restricted to actual Caste members. This most often arises in the area of Physicians. Pretending to be of a Caste one is not carries a serious legal penalty. Other Caste skills though may be practiced by anyone without repercussion. For example, anyone may sell a slave and not just a member of the Slavers' Caste.
Each caste possesses its own Caste Codes to govern the conduct of its members. "The ethical teachings of Gor, which are independent of the claims and propositions of the Initiates, amount to little more than the Caste Codes---collections of sayings whose origins are lost in antiquity." (Tarnsman of Gor, p.40-41) These Codes are vitally important to the Caste members and are generally followed by all members of the Caste. "It is the codes which separate men from sleen and larls," said Thurnus. "They are the difference. They are the wall." (Slave Girl of Gor p.227) The Codes may be radically different from Caste to Caste, as each Caste has different needs. The Caste Codes of the same Caste, but from different cities, will be largely similar but there might be some slight differences as well. The importance of these Codes cannot be stressed enough. They are a guide to the life of a Caste member, offering him an outline for what is permissible and what is prohibited. They are a form of professional ethics, indicating the proper conduct for that Caste. Failure to follow the Codes can lead to serious sanctions, including expulsion from the Caste. Unfortunately the books provide little details on the Caste Codes for each different Caste. Only the Warrior Caste receives any significant details on its Caste Codes.
Belonging to a Caste provides a person with certain benefits and privileges. For example, charity is administered through the caste structure. Goreans do not favor begging and some even view it as an insult. When charity is needed, one's Caste or clan is supposed to provide financial support. Caste Sanctuary, the protection of Caste members in times of need, is another privilege. A Caste protects its own members and they form a cohesive unity. These and other Caste rights are a matter of birth and you are entitled to them automatically, even if you never engage in the practice of your Caste. A person may possess documentation that certifies their Caste status and such paperwork can be beneficial, especially if a person is seeking Caste benefits.
One commonly cannot practice the
profession of one's Caste until an apprenticeship has been completed. In the
mean time, you might be able to do some subsidiary work in that profession
without such a completion. For example, a Metalworker, who has not completed
his apprenticeship, might be able to paint iron or transport it though he
could not actually work the iron. An apprenticeship helps to guarantee the
quality of the Caste's products and services. Thus a Caste will consist of
full working members of the Caste, members in training, and non-practicing
members. Women of a Caste often do not engage in Caste work, especially work
that requires significant physical strength. For example, women of the Metal
Workers would not commonly work at a forge and women of the Builder's Caste
would not supervise the construction of fortifications.
But, women do commonly work in some Castes such as Scribes and Merchants. There are even some female Slavers, including a few who engage in field captures. Another notable exception is that of the Physician's Caste. The Physician's Caste though often restricts women in one way. In many cities, the Caste will not permit a woman to fully practice medicine until she has first given birth to two children. At age fifteen, a woman of the Physician's Caste will don two bracelets. One will be removed for each child that is born. When both are removed, she is allowed to fully practice medicine. The reason behind this is that professional women tend not to reproduce. This would serve over time to diminish the quality and numbers of the Caste. Thus, the rule helps to preserve the future of the Caste.
The future of the Caste is vitally important to Goreans. The welfare of the Caste even takes priority over the ambitions and desires of specific individuals. The welfare of a larger number of individuals is more important than the welfare of a smaller number of individuals. Caste members often will subsume their own individual wants for the greater good of the Caste. Goreans truly care about the future of their Caste and they do not want to do anything that might jeopardize it. Caste is crucially important to Goreans in ways that those of Earth cannot easily comprehend. The importance of the Caste to Goreans cannot be underestimated.
The logic behind the restriction on women in the Physician's Caste applies as well to the Warrior Caste. Women would not be permitted to risk their lives in combat. If they were permitted, a significant number of women would die in battle. This would lead to fewer births overall. In addition, dead women could not raise their existing children. Goreans would not want their children to grow up without mothers. This would all diminish the quality of the Caste over time. With the welfare of the Caste at stake, Warriors would not permit women to engage in combat. In addition, women would not want to endanger the welfare of the Caste so they would willingly accept their role in the Caste. This is in addition to other reasons why women would not engage in combat, such as their lesser physical strength.
Castes do not have complete monopolies over some of their skills. For example, any person can buy and sell slaves, not just a member of the Slaver's Caste. Anyone can learn how to wield a sword, not just a member of the Warrior's Caste. Obviously such individuals will not know or follow the Caste Codes of those Castes. In addition, there would be some restrictions on their use of those skills. A Caste would not generally permit a non-Caste member to try to usurp their Caste to a major extent. There are even laws to punish individuals who practice a Caste's expertise without being a member. This is most often enforced in the case where a person acts as a Physician without being a Caste member. There must be a specific intent to claim a false caste. Goreans also realize that commonly someone cannot practice the work of their Caste until they have satisfactorily completed an apprenticeship. This serves in part as a guarantee to the quality of the product. This guarantee would not apply to a person practicing the skills who does not belong to the Caste. It would be a matter of caveat emptor.
The Caste system is intended to provide some structure and stability to Gorean society. "Most Goreans take Caste very seriously. It is apparently one of the socially stabilizing forces on Gor. It tends to reduce the dislocations, disappointments and tragedies inherent in more mobile structures, in which men are taught that they are failures if they do not manage to make large amounts of money or excel in one of a small number of prestigious professions. The system also helps to keep men of energy and high intelligence in a wide variety of occupations, this preventing the drain of such men into a small number of often artificially desiderated occupations, this tending then to leave lesser men, or frustrated men, to practice other hundreds of arts the survival and maintenance of which are important to a superior civilization." (Dancer of Gor, p.186-187) And the Caste system has been effective in these objectives.
By making each Caste important and instilling an attitude that the good of the Caste outweighs individual ambitions, people tend to remain within their Caste. Members of Gorean society do not engage in battles over trying to ascend a social ladder. People are and should be proud of their Caste. They should do their best to enhance the welfare and future of their Caste. It is far more than a mere job; it is an essential aspect of their life. It forms a vital community for its members. It helps define their role in society, and gives them vital objectives.
"There are brave men in all castes," said Shaba." (Explorers of Gor, p.433)
On Gor, slavery is an ancient institution, one that has evolved over many years into its present state. The historical Slave Wars and Kaiila Wars helped to develop much of the Merchant law dealing with slavery. Slavery is a complex institution, with a myriad of different aspects: legal, social, cultural, economic and aesthetic. Gorean slavery reflects the type of slavery that existed during the times of ancient Greece and Rome, though it is closer in many respects to the system of ancient Rome. But, there are also significant differences as well between Gorean slavery and that of these ancient Earth cultures. In some ways, Gorean slavery also reflects certain aspects of medieval Islamic slavery, especially in the gender ratio of slaves.
Gorean mythology provides an interesting origin tale for the establishment of slavery. It is said that a very long time ago, there was a great war between the men and women of Gor. The men ultimately prevailed in this epic battle, conquering the women. But, the Priest-Kings were worried about the ultimate fate of these women, fearful that the men would simply kill all of them. To prevent this terrible fate, the Priest-Kings used their vast powers to physically transform all of the women, making them very beautiful so that they would be desirable to the men. And this was effective, as the men then chose not to exterminate the alluring and tempting women. But this reprieve of their death sentence did not come without a price. As their own punishment, the Priest-Kings also decreed that women would forever be slaves to men.
On Gor, female slavery is seen as having a solid basis in the biological differences of men and women. Male dominance is pervasive among mammals and nearly universal among primates. Goreans accept female slavery as a natural part of life and few question its basic validity. "Female slavery is the institutionalized expression, in a civilization congenial to nature, of the fundamental biological relationship between the sexes. In the institution of female slavery we find this basic relationship recognized, accepted, clarified, fixed and celebrated." (Savages of Gor, p.193-4) There are no organized abolition movements or strong resistance against this institution. Slavery will likely remain a part of Gorean society for a very long time.
But, the numbers and percentages of slaves on Gor are actually relatively low. Most women on Gor are free. Only about 2 to 3% of all the women on Gor are slaves and only .2 to.3% of all the men on Gor are slaves. These ratios do vary though from city to city. For example, in Ar about 15-20% of the women are slaves. In Tharna, after the revolution against the Tatrix, almost all of the women in that city were enslaved. Gorean percentages are much less than the percentages during ancient Greek and Roman times when up to one-third of the entire population were slaves. In addition, in Greek and Roman slavery, male slaves far outnumbered female slaves. The percentage of female slaves to male slaves is more in accord with Islamic slavery where female slaves were more prevalent than male slaves.
Men captured during wars, raids or other military actions are most often slain rather than enslaved. Most men that do end up as slaves are either debtors or criminals. Male slaves are primarily enslaved for economic reasons, such as for cheap labor. Goreans do not consider the enslavement of men to possess a biological foundation as does exist for women. But, Gorean society does recognize the validity and legality of male slavery. It is a more practical and economic decision and not one based on a deeper philosophy. Under these justifications, anyone can be enslaved on Gor. No one is immune to the threat of a steel collar.
Most slaves are not born into slavery but are forcefully or legally collared at some later point in their lives. Slave breeding does occur but it is a carefully controlled practice. Slaves are bred with other slaves and free men seldom have children with their slaves. Legally, such children would normally be born as a slave. During slave breeding, the slaves are blindfolded and forbidden to speak so that the two slaves do not know each other and cannot form any type of attachment. The slave owner and possibly others will also observe the breeding as well. Only a small fraction of slave breeding is carefully done by Slaver Houses with a specific intent in mind. Some specially bred girls can possess pedigreed lineages that extend back for up to thirty generations. Few male slaves possess such pedigrees. Breeding for Exotics is also another specialty.
Earth has always been a source of Gorean slaves. Both agents of the Priest-Kings and the Kurii make journeys to Earth to kidnap women and bring them to Gor to become slaves. Such girls are often watched for a year or two, to assess them, before they are ever kidnapped. In recent years, Kurii agents have started bringing larger numbers of Earth women to Gor, making them more common on Gor. Earth women are considered natural slaves, as they have no Home Stone. In addition, as they have no Home Stones, their capture does not violate any Gorean laws. Earth girls are considered to be barbarians because they know nothing of Gor and must be trained even to speak Gorean. But, they have a reputation of being excellent slaves once they are trained. As more Earth women end up in the Gorean slave market, and their rarity thus decreasing, their prices have begun to be more standardized.
Few Earthmen are ever brought to Gor to be slaves. In fact, few Earthmen are currently brought to Gor at all. Jason Marshall may have been the first Earthman brought to Gor to specifically be a slave. It is surprising that more Earthmen are not brought to Gor to be slaves. Certain Earthmen would make excellent silk slaves. Others would be acceptable as work slaves. This may be due in part to the general disdain Goreans have for Earthmen, often viewing them as less than men. It still seems a potentially lucrative avenue though for an enterprising Slaver, especially a Kurii agent.
The institution of slavery does pervade many aspects of the economic fabric of Gorean society. Numerous Castes derive work and income from this institution. From Metalworkers who create slave steel to Perfumers who make slave perfume, many castes benefit from slavery. Slaves also perform such of the lowliest tasks on Gor, tasks that most free would not deign to perform such as carrying waste to the carnariums. But, slaves are not essential to production in Gorean society. Though some Peasants use slaves, most of the agricultural work on Gor is performed by the free. And many of the Castes that benefit from the institution of slavery could direct their efforts into different areas if slavery were suddenly outlawed.
Far too many seem to assume Gorean slavery is mostly about sex. It most certainly is not. Slaves perform numerous duties and functions on Gor, and the institution of slavery touches on many aspects of society. One should understand the totality of the institution, noting all of its numerous and varied aspects. Do not think of just the Pleasure Slaves but also remember the pot girls and galley slaves. Do not think of just the paga taverns but think of the public laundries and private mills where slaves work. Think of the Castes who benefit from this institution, all the individuals who benefit, despite them not owning any slaves.
The legal existence of slavery on Gor is
certainly a significant difference from modern Earth. And it is extremely
unlikely that this institution will be abolished on Gor anytime in the near
future. In that respect then, understanding the place of slavery within Gorean
society is vital to understanding Gor. But also note the relative small number
of slaves on Gor, how far more women are free than slave. And note how few
slaves contribute to actual production. In most respects, slaves are a luxury
on Gor. Which means that their absence would not drastically change Gorean
society. Yes, slavery is important on Gor but it is certainly not an essential
element to their society.