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Headword: Σπαδώνων ἤτοι ἀποκόπων. Σπάδων
Adler number: sigma,897
Translated headword: concerning geldings or castrated men.
Vetting Status: high
Gelding: a eunuch.[1]
Concerning those who choose willingly to suffer this impudent and impure manner of thought and action Cyril the Great proclaims and publicizes as follows: for those wretches do this because of their impudence, while yet being men they want to experience the same things as women. For, altering their nature on account of nothing good or even because of insolence, they often gladly destroy their god-shaped and man-befitting form; or, being compelled by others to endure this, they then become like plagues on nature, like enemies of their race, and like stains on the state, and like detractors of life. Prostituting themselves immoderately in the manner of maenads, they dance about amidst the most shameful passions and mix their wretched life together with a defiled and corrupted state by wearing about their dubious and hated faces and their bastardized thing.[2] Let them keep far away from the holy precincts. For, when with most shameful and worst judgement they alter and change good and divine work into a bad and misconstrued doctrine and force the spiritual state of being a "eunuch" to serve a forbidden act, they are not only worthy to be assigned punishment by legal decree but also in accord with angelic and apostolic denial to be driven off utterly into the so called outer darkness. For Moses spoke concerning this kind of people, "He whose testicles have been crushed or cut off shall not enter into the house of the Lord." It is indeed possible to see homes full of grandees of such fine-formed faces sporting golden collars on their throats, having a male's nature but a female's appearance and walking about effeminately and talking wantonly just as improperly as courtesans. They even go so far as to toss their hair[3] and laugh uncontrolledly and shamelessly, making a show of their manifest passion. Therefore, with men they, like women, go to bed passively and through their effeminate intercourse are corrupted, but with women they, like guards and semblances of moderation--I suppose--, sleep unashamedly and unblushingly commit their shameful acts. And these persons, being so corrupted and effeminate under the influence of unholy and profane men, both defile and are defiled through their unnatural unholy actions and their disgusting behavior. And they being wretched agitated little women, as I said, befoul and cause harm through their sins just like mad dogs. And thence what is worse is that they become guilty as both supporters and associates of unbounded chastisement, by both corrupting and being corrupted.[4] But O for stupidity, O for deceit and derangement! For men even particularly point them out and accept them as wise so that they trust them and live with them. They then, being allowed to live together and taking license, lay traps bit by bit for wise men who really practice virtue justly and cast these men down pitifully into the shameful pit of Sodom and send them unto the eternal fire. Wherefore, for the future it is altogether fitting that the law and the gospel and the best life and the pious state all loathe them as god-haters and impure. For these have preferred and desired such a detestable life, as far as it is in their power, that they have destroyed cities by disrupting the life-giving purpose of their nature and by being corrupted, and they have terribly wasted manly strength and youth and masculine and noble might, and in short by outraging the intense and burgeoning pinnacle of puberty they have made their captives clearly wretched and ridiculous. These people should be avoided and justly loathed as soul-killers and body-corrupters and cursed and counterfeiters of nature. For nothing is more truly abominable or impure than those who thus give and receive fornication. For, as we have accurately learned, not only the geldings who somehow retain their parts for shameful acts but, in fact, even those who are perfectly cut and castrated are accustomed to being immeasurably wanton and to being shamelessly and insatiably licentious. Indeed, as with those who are born lacking these parts—-alas for the utter absurdity and derangement of it—-these unholy fellows are accustomed to corrupt wretched women with their hands and their fingers and to accomplish their unholy works so perversely. And, indicating this, the wise man once clearly said: "And blessed is the eunuch, which with his hands hath wrought no iniquity"[5] and the virgin "which hath not known the sinful bed."[6] Therefore, they have fittingly been called neither female nor male but rather men-women, iron-condemned,[7] and woman-crazy. Therefore, those who wrongly suppose these to be pure and wise men should listen and not trust the lie and their counterfeit purity and wisdom. For how shall purification come from impurity and how shall truth come from a lie?[8]
And[9] if only the eunuch[10] who was ordained had been affected through a holy life, and his evil were only half-evil. But, in fact, he was an earthworm, glutton, lady-crazy, reckless, drunken, fornicating, venal, low-class, greedy, and iron-condemned[11] even in birth, unmale, unfemale, crazed fellow who often[12] lifted the theatre girls up on his shoulders at drinking parties fit for satyrs and, with his head wreathed in ivy, carried the drinking bowl in hand and served the wine in a costume of the mythical Dionysus.[13]
So he is chaste without having to work for it[14] because of the knife, but he is mad without being able to produce anything[15] through his personal deformity.
And the plural [is] 'geldings'.
[It is said that][16] under Eutropius, Emperor Theodosius' chamberlain, eunuchs as a class increased and grew so great in number because of his importance and power that then even some of those who already had beards wanted to become eunuchs-—and hoped even more to become Eutropiuses—-and were deprived of their life along with their testicles—-and lost Eutropius.[17] He set up gold statues everywhere, and raised up buildings and furnished them more augustly thoughout the whole city.[18]
Greek Original:
Περὶ Σπαδώνων ἤτοι ἀποκόπων. Σπάδων: εὐνοῦχος. ταύτην τὴν ἀκόλαστον καὶ ἀκάθαρτον γνώμην καὶ πρᾶξιν τῶν αὐθαιρέτως πασχόντων, θριαμβεύων εὖ μάλα καὶ στηλιτεύων ὁ μέγας Κύριλλος οὕτω φάσκει: ἀκολασίας γὰρ ἕνεκεν οἱ τάλανες τοῦτο δρῶσι, τὰ τῶν γυναικῶν πάσχειν ἄνδρες ὄντες βουλόμενοι. οὐδενὸς γὰρ χρησίμου χάριν τὴν φύσιν μετατιθέντες ἢ ἀσελγείας ἕνεκεν τὴν θεόπλαστον καὶ ἀνδροπρεπῆ μορφὴν διαφθείρουσιν ἑκουσίως πολλάκις, ἢ ὑπ' ἄλλων ὑπομένειν ἀναγκαζόμενοι τοῦτο ὡς λοιμοὶ τῆς φύσεως καὶ τοῦ γένους πολέμιοι καὶ σπῖλοι πολιτείας καὶ ζωῆς ἐφύβριστοι γίνονται. δίκην μαινάδων πορνευθέντες ἀμέτρως, ἐν τοῖς αἰσχίστοις ὀρχοῦνται πάθεσι μιαρᾷ πολιτείᾳ καὶ πεφθαρμένῃ τὴν ἀθλίαν ζωὴν συγκεράσαντες, ἀμφίβολα καὶ μεμισημένα πρόσωπα περιφέροντες καὶ πρᾶγμα νενοθευμένον. ἱερῶν περιβόλων μακρὰν ἀποιχέσθωσαν. ἐπειδὴ γὰρ αἰσχίστῃ καὶ κακίστῃ γνώμῃ τὸ καλὸν καὶ θεῖον ἔργον εἰς τὸ κακὸν καὶ διαβεβλημένον δόγμα παραλλάξαντες καὶ μεταποιήσαντες καὶ τὴν πνευματικὴν εὐνουχίαν ἀπηγορευμένῃ πράξει λειτουργεῖν ἀναγκάσαντες οὐ μόνον ἄξιοι νομικῆς ψήφου λαμβάνειν τιμωρίαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐξ ἀγγελικῆς καὶ ἀποστολικῆς ἀποφάσεως εἰς τὸ λεγόμενον ἐξώτερον σκότος ἄρδην ἀπελαύνεσθαι. περὶ γὰρ τῶν τοιούτων ἔφη Μωϋσῆς, θλαδίας καὶ ἀπόκοπος οὐκ εἰσελεύσονται εἰς οἶκον κυρίου. ἔστι γοῦν ἰδεῖν πεπληρωμένας οἰκίας τῶν μεγιστάνων τοιούτων τερατομόρφων προσώπων, χρυσοῦς μηνίσκους ἐπὶ τραχήλου φοροῦντας, φύσιν μὲν ἄρρενος, θηλείας δὲ ὄψιν ἔχοντας καὶ κεκλασμένως βαδίζοντας καὶ τεθρυμμένως φθεγγομένους. ὥσπερ ἑταιρίδες ἀπρεπῶς ὧδε κἀκεῖσε τὴν κεφαλὴν περισείουσι καὶ γελῶσιν ἀκρατῶς τε καὶ ἀναιδῶς, οἰστρηλασίαν πρόδηλον ὑπεμφαίνοντες. ὅθεν μετ' ἀνδρῶν μὲν ὡς γυναῖκες μαλακῶς εὐναζόμενοι καὶ μαλακιζόμενοι φθείρονται, μετὰ γυναικῶν δέ, ὡς φύλακες ἅμα καὶ σωφροσύνης δῆθεν ἰνδάλματα, καθεύδοντες ἀναισχύντως καὶ ἀπηρυθριασμένως αἰσχροπραγοῦσι. καὶ οὗτοι μὲν οὕτως ὑπ' ἀνδρῶν ἀνοσίων καὶ βεβήλων φθειρόμενοι καὶ μαλακιζόμενοι καταμιαίνουσι καὶ καταμιαίνονται διὰ τῆς παρὰ φύσιν ἀνοσιουργίας καὶ βδελυρίας, αὐτοὶ δὲ γυναικαρία ταλαίπωρα καὶ σεσοβημένα κατὰ τὸ εἰρημένον ἁμαρτίαις καταμολύνουσι καὶ καταβλάπτουσιν οἷα λυσσώδεις κύνες, καὶ τὸ δὴ χαλεπώτερον ἐντεῦθεν αἴτιοι γίνονται καὶ πρόξενοι τε καὶ μέτοχοι τῆς ἀπεράντου κολάσεως, οἵ τε φθείροντες καὶ οἱ φθειρόμενοι. ἀλλ' ὢ τῆς ἀφροσύνης, ὢ τῆς ἀπάτης καὶ παραπληξίας: τούτους γὰρ ἄνθρωποι καὶ μάλιστα προὔχοντες ὡς σώφρονας παραδεχόμενοι, πιστεύουσι καὶ εἰσοικίζουσιν, οἵ γε εἰσοικιζόμενοι καὶ παρρησίας τυγχάνοντες τοὺς ὄντως δικαίως ἀρετῆς ἐπιμελουμένους σώφρονας ἄνδρας καταμικρὸν δελεάσαντες εἰς τὸ τῶν Σοδόμων αἰσχρὸν βάραθρον κατηκόντισαν ἐλεεινῶς καὶ τῷ αἰωνίῳ πυρὶ παρέπεμψαν. διὸ δὴ λοιπὸν ἀραρότως πάνυ γε τούτους καὶ νόμος καὶ λόγος εὐαγγελικὸς καὶ ἄριστος βίος καὶ εὐσεβὴς πολιτεία βδελύττεται λίαν ὡς θεομισεῖς καὶ ἀκαθάρτους. οὗτοι γὰρ τοιαύτην ἐξάγιστον ζωὴν προτιμήσαντες καὶ πυθήσαντες, ὅσον ἧκεν ἐπ' αὐτοῖς, πόλεις μὲν ἠφάνισαν, τὸν σπερματικὸν τῆς φύσεως λόγον παραφθείροντες καὶ φθειρόμενοι, εὐανδροῦσαν δὲ ῥώμην ἀνδρὸς καὶ ἡλικίαν καὶ τὴν ἀρρενωπὴν καὶ γενναίαν ἰσχὺν δεινῶς ἐξανάλωσαν καὶ ἁπλῶς τὴν σύντονον καὶ σφριγῶσαν ἀκμὴν τῆς νεότητος λυμηνάμενοι φανερῶς ἀθλίους καὶ καταγελάστους ἐποιήσαν τοὺς ἁλόντας. οὕς γε φευκτέον προτροπάδην καὶ βδελυκτέον ἐνδίκως ὡς ψυχοκτόνους καὶ σωματοφθόρους καὶ ἐναγεῖς ὄντας καὶ τῆς φύσεως παραχαράκτας. οὐδὲν γὰρ ἀληθῶς μυσαρώτερον ἢ ἀκαθαρτότερον τῶν οὕτω πορνευομένων τε καὶ πορνευόντων. εἰώθασι γάρ, ὡς ἀκριβῶς μεμαθήκαμεν, οὐ μόνον οἱ σπάδωνες καὶ τὰ μόρια τῆς αἰσχρουργίας ποσῶς ἔχοντες ἀσελγαίνειν ἀμέτρως καὶ ἀκολασταίνειν ἀναιδῶς καὶ ἀκορέστως, ἀλλά γε καὶ οἱ τέλεον ἀπόκοποι καὶ ἐκτετμημένοι. καθάπερ οὖν καὶ οἱ ἐκ γεννητῆς ἐστερημένοι ταῦτα [φεῦ τῆς ἐσχάτης ἀτοπίας καὶ φρενοβλαβείας] διὰ χειρὸς καὶ δακτύλου φθείρειν τὰς ἀθλίας γυναῖκας καὶ τὴν ἀνοσιουργίαν οὕτως ἐμμανῶς οἱ ἀνόσιοι κατεργάζεσθαι. καὶ τοῦτο δηλῶν ὁ σοφὸς ἀριδήλως ἔφη: μακάριος εὐνοῦχος ὁ μὴ ἐργασάμενος ἐν χειρὶ ἀνόμημα, καὶ παρθένος, ἥτις οὐκ ἔγνω κοίτην ἐν παραπτώματι. εἰκότως οὖν ἄθηλοι, ἄνανδροι, ἀνδρόγυνοι, σιδηροκατάδικοι καὶ γυναικομανεῖς προσηγορεύθησαν. ἀκουέτωσαν τοίνυν οἱ καθαροὺς καὶ σώφρονας τούτους ὑποτοπάζοντες μάτην καὶ μὴ πιστευέτωσαν τῷ ψεύδει καὶ τῇ κατεσχηματισμένῃ καθαρότητι καὶ σωφροσύνῃ. ἀπὸ γὰρ ἀκαθάρτου τί καθαρισθήσεται, καὶ ἀπὸ ψεύδους, τί ἀληθεύσει; καὶ εἴθε ὁ χειροτονηθεὶς εὐνοῦχος διὰ βίου σεμνοῦ ἦν ἠγμένος, καὶ ἡμίκακον ἦν τὸ κακόν. νυνὶ δὲ γῆς ἔντερον, γαστρίδουλον, θηλυμανές, ἰταμόν, μέθυσον, πορνοκόπον, ἀργυρώνητον, ἀνελεύθερον, ἀργυρόδουλον, πρὸς αὐτῇ τῇ γενέσει σιδηροκατάδικον, ἄνανδρον, ἄθηλυ, ἐπιμανές, πολλάκις τὰ θεατρικὰ κοράσια ἐπ' ὤμων βαστάσαν ἐν σατυρικοῖς συμποσίοις, κισσῷ τὴν κεφαλὴν ἐστεμμένον, καὶ κρατῆρα τῇ χειρὶ ἐνημμένον, ᾠνοχοηκέναι ἐν προσχήματι τοῦ μυθικοῦ Διονύσου. οὕτως σωφρονεῖ μὲν ἄμισθα διὰ σιδήρου, μαίνεται δὲ ἄκαρπα δι' οἰκείαν αἰσχρότητα. καὶ τὸ πληθυντικὸν σπάδωνες. ὅτι ἐπὶ Εὐτροπίου τοῦ εὐνούχου, τοῦ ἐπιτρόπου Θεοδοσίου τοῦ βασιλέως, τὸ τῶν εὐνούχων ἔθνος διὰ τὴν ἐκείνου βαρύτητα καὶ δυναστείαν ἐς τοσοῦτον ἐπέδωκε καὶ παρετάθη πλήθους, ὥστε τινες ἤδη καὶ τῶν γενειάδας ἐχόντων, εὐνοῦχοι βουληθέντες καὶ Εὐτρόπιοι γενέσθαι προσελπίζοντες τῆς ψυχῆς ἀφῃρέθησαν σὺν τοῖς ὄρχεσι, τὸν Εὐτρόπιον ἀπολέσαντες. χρυσοῖ τε ἀνδριάντες ἀνίσταντο πανταχοῦ, καὶ οἰκοδομήματα διηγείρετο καὶ κατελαμπρύνετο παρ' αὐτοῦ σεμνότερα τῆς ὅλης πόλεως.
After the opening gloss (n. 1 below), this entry is a patchwork of various sources, but its centrepiece is a long passage from George the Monk, Chronicon (de Boor) 651.1-654.14: "ταύτην...ἀληθεύσει; " ("Concerning those...from a lie?")
[1] Likewise or similarly in other lexica; references at Photius sigma427 Theodoridis. On eunuchs see also epsilon 3776 and epsilon 3777.
[2] Apparently a euphemism for their altered membrum virile.
[3] Literally "toss their head" which indicates an effeminate mannerism.
[4] A convoluted sentence translated by Kuster (vol. 3, p. 359): "& quod gravius est, hinc fiunt auctores & conciliatores & participes infiniti supplicii tam qui corrumpunt, quam qui corrumpuntur."
[5] Wisdom of Solomon 3:14 (KJV).
[6] Wisdom of Solomon 3:13 (KJV).
[7] According to Moore (131 n. 411) this word ("σιδηροκατάδικοι ") is a coinage of Palladius, who is quoted below. Whether it means "condemned-to-irons" ("destined for prison") or "condemned-by-iron" ("damned by the knife of castration") is unclear.
[8] This ends the passage taken from George the Monk (see primary note above).
[9] Here begins a passage adapted with minor changes from Palladius' Dialogus de vita Joannis Chrysostomi (Coleman-Norton) 92.5-18 (web address 1).
[10] The eunuch may actually be someone named "Eunuchos" according to Moore (131 n. 409).
[11] As noted above in the passage from George the Monk, this word σιδηροκατάδικον is said by Moore (131 n. 411) to be an invention of Palladius; but compare Basil, Letters 115 (web address 2) for a very similar passage including this term. Indeed, if the letter is genuine, Palladius has followed Basil closely. See also the Sacred Parallels attributed to John of Damascus (PG 95.1594) which adapts Basil rather than Palladius.
[12] Palladius here reads more sensibly "as I have often heard" ("καθὼς ἤκουσα πολλάκις ") instead of "often" ("πολλάκις ").
[13] This ends the first passage from Palladius, and the entry now skips a few lines (from 92.18-92.23) to pick up again at 92.24-25.
[14] The word ἄμισθα here indicates that the eunuch has not put in the hard work to earn the "pay" of being justly chaste.
[15] The word ἄκαρπα apparently alludes to the fact that, despite the eunuch's mad sexual activities, he can never procreate.
[16] With minor additions this paragraph reproduces the last paragraph of epsilon 3777.
[17] The phrase set off by em-dashes has been added to the text from epsilon 3777.
[18] This last sentence is added on to the end of the passage repeated from epsilon 3777. Apparently "He" means Eutropius, but the source for these details is unclear.
C. de Boor. 1904, repr. 1978 corr. by P. Wirth. Georgii monachi chronicon. Leipzig (repr. Stuttgart): Teubner
P.R. Coleman-Norton. 1928. Palladii dialogus de vita S. Joanni Chrysostomi. Cambridge: Cambridge UP
Ludolf Kuster. 1705. Suidae Lexicon. 3 vols. Cambridge: Academic Press. (web address 3, web address 4, web address 5)
Herbert Moore. 1921. The Dialogue of Palladius concerning the Life of Chrysostom. London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. (web address 5)
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3,
Web address 4,
Web address 5
Keywords: art history; biography; Christianity; clothing; definition; economics; ethics; food; gender and sexuality; historiography; history; imagery; medicine; politics; religion; trade and manufacture; women; zoology
Translated by: Abram Ring on 4 May 2009@21:26:36.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics) on 5 May 2009@03:33:17.
David Whitehead (augmented n.1; more keywords; tweaks and cosmetics; raised status) on 31 December 2013@05:33:25.
Catharine Roth (typo, re-ordered links) on 11 November 2014@01:09:06.
Catharine Roth (tweaks) on 11 November 2014@01:16:27.
Catharine Roth on 11 November 2014@01:22:27.


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