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A gelding knife employed by Ramsay Snow (the TV series's props department based it on the design of real-life medieval gelding knives).

"I'm not killing you, just making a few... alterations."
Ramsay Snow to Theon Greyjoy[src]

Eunuchs are men who have had their testicles removed in order to make them more efficient servants or soldiers, as they are not distracted by lust or sexual matters. The practice is considered cruel in Westeros, where eunuchs are mistrusted; men are typically only castrated or gelded in the Seven Kingdoms as punishment for serious crimes such as rape. However, it is considered acceptable in many parts of Essos, as part of the vibrant slave trade which exists in many areas. Slave-eunuchs are a common sight in Essos, and the famous warrior-eunuchs produced in Slaver's Bay known as the Unsullied are among the most disciplined soldiers in the known world.

Note: When a male has his testicles removed, the term is "castration". When a male has his testicles and also the shaft of his penis removed, the term is "emasculation".

In the series

Season 1

Grand Maester Pycelle expresses distrust of and disgust with Varys, and is annoyed that a eunuch is serving on the king's small council. When discussing the death of Jon Arryn, Pycelle suggests that poison is a weapon typically used by women - and also eunuchs. He then bluntly notes that Varys is a eunuch, trying to throw suspicion on him.[1]

Petyr Baelish talks to Varys about his disfigurement as part of a verbal sparring match, asking where his testicles are located. He notes that Varys is from the Free Cities.[2]

Season 3

Grey Warm

Grey Worm, an Unsullied warrior-eunuch.

Daenerys Targaryen travels to the slaver city of Astapor to buy an army of Unsullied, slave soldiers who have been turned into eunuchs to improve discipline. Lacking male organs, they do not take part in rapes.[3]

Varys explains the story of how he was emasculated to Tyrion Lannister. A sorcerer removed his genitals - both penis and testes - and burned them in a brazier as part of a ritual or ceremony.[4]

Theon Greyjoy is castrated by his sadistic captor Ramsay Snow, who had heard rumors about Theon being well endowed. Ramsay then sends his severed genitals to Theon's father.[5] When Balon receives the box, he is disgusted and gives Theon up for dead, stating that his son is not a man anymore, and is no longer important to him because he cannot further the Greyjoy line.[6]

Known eunuchs


Lord Varys, a prominent eunuch in Westeros


Pycelle: "Did you know that lord Varys is a eunuch?"
Eddard Stark: "Everybody knows that."
Pycelle: "Yes, yes, yes of course. How that sort of person found himself on the King's Council, I will never know."
Pycelle on Varys[src]
"I'm looking at spending the rest of life being treated like a fool and a eunuch by my own people!"
Theon Greyjoy to Luwin[src]
"When people talk about phantom limbs, an amputee might have an itch where his foot used to be. So I've always wondered, do eunuchs have a phantom cock? Next time you think about naked girls, will you feel an itch?"
Ramsay Bolton to Theon[src]
"Yet the next day Khal Temmo woke to find before the gates 3,000 eunuchs in formation, armed with only spears, shields and spiked helms."
Jorah Mormont describes the Unsullied at the Battle of Qohor[src]

In the books

In the A Song of Ice and Fire novels, different regions are known to make eunuchs in different ways. Some only remove the testicles but leave the shaft of the penis intact, while others remove all external genitalia, both the penis and testicles. The slaver-city of Yunkai, for example, is known to make eunuchs by removing only a slave's testicles, but the slave-masters of Astapor make eunuchs by removing everything, penis and testes, such as when they make the Unsullied. A eunuch with only the testicles removed but not the penis will still lose the will to partake of sexual activity, but other slave-masters like to be sure by removing the penis as well.

In real life, if an adult man has his testicles removed, he can still achieve an erection. If a boy has his testicles removed before puberty, however, it is difficult to impossible for them to achieve an erection with the remaining shaft of the penis - due to the lack of hormones during the puberty years that would normally be supplied by the testicles. This is a moot point for the Unsullied: both their testicles and penis shaft are removed when they are no more than five years old. Kraznys actually explains within the novels that eunuchs can sometimes achieve an erection if they only have their testicles removed, so this is why the Astapori cut off all of the Unsullied's genitals, just to be sure.

See also


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