(#39, Version 4.0)
The City of Tharna is the subject of the second of the Gor novels, Outlaw of Gor. Tarl Cabot has returned to Gor after seven years and found Ko-ro-ba to have been destroyed by the Priest-Kings. He then decides to journey to the Sardar to confront the Priest-Kings and stops in Tharna on the way. Tharna is located far to the northeast of Corcyrus and Venna. It is surrounded by many other cities. Tarl arrives in Tharna in 10116 C.A. and remains around there until 10117 C.A. When he finally leaves Tharna, it is a much changed city.
Tharna was once like any other Gorean city. But, over many generations, female dominance became the norm. Originally, the city had a certain Rite of Submission by which the men enslaved women. Part of the Rites involved binding the female captive with yellow cords and placing her on a scarlet rug. The color yellow symbolized talendars, a sign of feminimity and love. The color red symbolized blood and possibly passion as well. After that, the man would place a sword to the woman's chest and utter the ritual phrases of enslavement.
"Weep, Free Maiden.
Remember your pride and weep.
Remember your laughter and weep.
Remember you were my enemy and weep.
Now you are my helpless captive.
Remember you stood against me.
Now you lie at my feet.
I have bound you with yellow cords.
I have placed you on the scarlet rug.
Thus by the laws of Tharna do I claim you.
Remember you were free.
Know now you are my slave.
Weep, Slave Girl."
The man would then untie her ankles and take her sexually, completing the ritual. But, over time, the rite fell into disuse and women began to be treated better. Men started to care for their women and the desire to dominate them lessened. As this happened, women were able to improve their station in life thus gaining social and economic power. As women they also controlled the education and conditioning of the children. As they began to exercise their power and teach the children what they desired, the place of women elevated even more. Tharna eventually became a gynocracy, a city ruled by women. As the position of women rose, the position of men fell. They began to see themselves as beasts and to despise themselves. Women did little to dispel these feelings in men.
The city was ruled by a Tatrix, a queen. She wore a gold mask of a beautiful but cold face. Her Robes of Concealment were also gold in color. All women in the city wore similar masks though their masks were made of silver. The women of the High Council of the city would wear silver robes to match their masks. In 10113 C.A., Lara ascended the throne to become Tatrix. This was the year after their war with Thentis. Lara ruled Tharna when Tarl arrived in 10116 C.A. Her second in command was Dorna the Proud.
Tharna was known for providing hospitality to strangers unlike most other cities. Most cities view strangers as enemies. But, Tharna had a sinister motive for such hospitality. Anyone who remained in the city for more than ten hours could never leave. They would become slaves working in the fields or the mines. Despite its open door policy, the city is not very inviting once you enter its gates. The gates are made of black wood, bound with bands of steel and studded with brass plates. Two giant beams lock the gate, each beam so large that it takes a team of tharlarions or one hundred slaves to move it. The gates are only open during the day.
The city is very grim and dismal, lacking the usual joy of other cities. It seems very quiet, people seemingly fearful to speak loudly. The marketplace is not a noisy place of furious haggling. The cylinders are shorter and broader than other cities, looking squat and ugly. The colors of the city are very dull. There are no inns or paga taverns, only the occasional place to purchase kal-da. All of its bridges have railings unlike most cities. Caste colors are worn only as a patch on the shoulder. Most men wear only gray tunics. They seem sober, pale and depressed. The Caste of Singers, or Poets, is outlawed in Tharna.
Free women walk unattended, with no need for bodyguards. They walk with an imperious step and the men step aside so they do not touch any of the women. It is a crime for men to touch women. The Caste of Physicians arranges all reproductive matters in the city. There are a few men with enough means to own villas outside of the city. These villas are not subject to the laws of Tharna so men are much freer here. They can keep slaves at these villas. There are no Pleasure Slaves permitted within the city.
Even the palace of the Tatrix is not impressive. It is a rounded fortress of black brick, heavy and unadorned. Its entrance is only simple iron door, eighteen inches wide and five feet tall. Most other cities have grand palaces with great entryways that could accommodate a team of tharlarion. The throne room is undecorated except for giant golden mask of a beautiful woman on the wall behind a throne of gold. The warriors of Tharna wear blue helmets while the palace guards also have a tiny silver mask on the temple of their helmets.
Tharna has great wealth due to its abundant silver mines, over a hundred of them. Tharna is also known as the City of Silver. The mines are a basically a series of tunnels, most of them not high enough for a man to stand. They are worked by males slaves. Generally, the slaves use small picks and place the ore in bags around their necks. The normal working day is fifteen Ahn and the slaves have quotas of ore. If they fail to meet their quota, they are harshly punished. Slaves live in rooms that are about four feet by four feet and one hundred feet long. The rooms are ventilated poorly by a set of tiny circular apertures placed every twenty feet. In the center of the room is a two foot hole that can be used to flood the room if necessary. The entire mine can actually be flooded if needed. Once you enter the mines, you are never again brought to the surface. Once a year, on the birthday of the Tatrix, they receive a small cake, made with honey and sesame seeds, and a small pot of poor Kal-da. The typical life expectancy of such a slave is six months to a year.
A simpler slavery exists on the Great Farms outside the city. Males become Field Slaves working the land and female slaves are used to carry water to them. One way a woman of Tharna can become a slave is for her to commit a crime. A woman who allows herself to fall in love is known as a Degraded Woman and will be stripped of her mask and robes and made a slave.
Also outside the cities is located the Pillar of Exchanges, a place where Tharna and its enemies exchange prisoners. It is located about one hundred pasangs northwest of the city. It is a white column of solid marble about four hundred feet high and one hundred feet in diameter. It is accessible only on tarnback. Its enables someone to see exactly who is present. No one can be hidden nearby so there cannot be a hidden ambush waiting.
The sole area of brightness and excitement in the city seems to be the Amusements of Tharna, a series of gladitorial games held in a special arena. The arena is an oval enclosure, about one hundred yards in diameter on its longest axis and with walls about twelve feet high. The walls are divided into sections and brightly colored with golds, purples, reds, oranges, yellows and blues. The surface of the arena is white sand, perfumed and sparkling with mica and red lead. There are giant striped awnings of red and yellow silk hanging over favored parts of the stands thus keeping the sun off the people. The men of Tharna are required to attend the Amusements at least four times a year or they will become participants in the games. The women attended though the Tatrix was a rare visitor. Wagering would occur on the outcomes of the games.
Numerous different games were held but only a couple were described in the books. One of the games of the arena was the Contest of Oxen. In this event, men were yoked and chained together in teams of four. The yokes were made of silver. The teams were chained to blocks of granite, each block weighing about a ton. The teams would then race, towing the blocks. One man would sit on the block as the driver and wield a whip to spur on the men. Another event was the Battle of Oxen. In this event, the men were placed into silver yokes, fitted with steel horns about eighteen inches long. The object was then to defeat the other men in combat using the horns as weapons.
Before the games began, the participants had to speak a certain litany.
"Though we are abject beasts
Fit only to live for your comfort
Fit only to die for your pleasure
Yet we glorify the Masks of Tharna
Hail to the Masks of Tharna
Hail to the Tatrix of our City."
But, this would all change in 10117 C.A. Tarl had been enslaved by the Tatrix of Tharna. He was placed into the Amusements of Tharna and then was set up to be torn to pieces by a tarn. That tarn happened to be his very own Ubar of the Skies so he avoided death and was able to escape, with the Tatrix as his captive. He would later try to ransom her back to Tharna for the freedom of his friends. But, Dorna the Proud had no intention of paying any ransom and Tarl was captured again. He was then sent to work in the silver mines. He was able to eventually organize an escape and this led to a revolution. The woman were brought down and men took their place in power of Tharna.
The silver masks were banned and melted down into coins. The caste colors began to be worn openly instead of as small patches. The buildings were repainted and glazed with varied colors. The streets were paved with blocks of colored stones in aesthetic patterns. The railings were removed from the bridges. It began to be similar to most other Gorean cities. Tharnan warriors are considered excellent and command high fees as mercenaries. It is unknown if the gladitorial games continued after the revolution. But, as other cities do have gladitorial games, it is possible that they remained in place in Tharna, but with some changes.
Lara was permitted to remain in power as she had proven during the revolution that should could be a proper leader. She would abdicate several years later though in favor of Kron, her First Minister. Kron had been a Metal Worker and a slave in the Mines. He had been a friend of Tarl and instrumental in the success of the revolution. Kron thus currently rules as Administrator. Dorna the Proud had sought to usurp Lara just prior to the revolution and had to flee when she realized the men were winning. As she escaped by tarn, she vowed vengeance on Tarl. Dorna's fate has never been explained in the books. She might still be somewhere on Gor, plotting her revenge against Tarl.
The biggest changes have been in the status of women in Tharna. They have returned in part of their ancient ways. Men now have two yellow cords, each eighteen inches long, thrust over their belt. The Rites of Submission are once again in practice. Boys, as a part of the Home Stone Ceremony, take an oath of mastery. They swear never to surrender the dominance which is rightfully theirs by nature. They also receive their yellow cords. In the same ceremony, women are brought before the Home Stone but cannot kiss or touch it. They are then stripped, collared and bound by one of the boys. They are now legally a slave. There are almost no free women in the city now and almost all of the slaves are native-born in the city. Tharna rarely imports slaves or sells them. Their slavery is said to be the strictest and most complete of all cities. Even free women from other cities, upon entering Tharna, must temporarily don collars, slave tunics and leashes.
The most common law of many cities is that a child born to a slave is a slave as well. But, in Tharna the law is different. A child conceived by a free person on a free person is free, even if later carried and borne by a slave. Thus, slaves are temporarily freed for the purpose of conception, then re-enslaved. Thus for all intensive purposes, there are probably few if any Free Companionships in Tharna as your slaves can bear your children.
This does cause a practical problem of who then teaches the children. In most Gorean cities, women teach the children during their formative years. Such teaching though is only done by free women. Slaves are not permitted to teach free people because this would place the free person in the slave's debt and slaves are not owed anything. Slaves can act as nannys and baby sitters but they cannot teach children. With so free women in Tharna, do the men teach the children? Or do they make an exception and permit their slaves to teach their children?
If you role-play within Tharna or your character is from that city, the time frame of your role-play may be important. You have two primary choices, before and after the revolution. Each choice has some major differences. Do you play in a city where the women have the power or in a city where almost all the women are slaves? If you are a Tharnan male playing in other cities, are you unused to the noise and frivolity of a typical Gorean city or do you now practice the Rites of Submission? If you are a Tharnan female playing in other cities, do you still wear a Silver Mask or have you fled the revolution? The options are many.