The subject of Caste is something that has confused some and given others a blank check to make up what ever sounds good.
I have listed, through the links on the left, relevant references from the series where Castes are mentioned.
It should be noted that I have also included here, in my effort to be thorough, indications to groups which the Books do not explicitly refer to as a Caste, Clan or Organization.
I have also refrained from grouping 'Subcaste' and 'Caste'.
As an example, are Slavers simply a subcaste of the Merchants or a separate Caste in their own right?
Even the books mention this debate and I shall not begin to make my own distinction.
Therefore, I have listed what are surely subcastes with their own heading.
I make no pronouncements on these matters, but report them as I find them.
Arrive at your own conclusions.
I wish you well,
Below are relavant references where Castes are mentioned in general.
"You must learn," Torm had said matter-of-factly, "the history and legends of Gor, its geography and economics, its social structures and customs, such as the caste system and clan groups, the right of placing the Home Stone, the Places of Sanctuary, when quarter is and is not permitted in war, and so on."
Religious matters on this world tend to be rather carefully guarded by the Caste of Initiates, who allow members of other castes little participation in their sacrifices and ceremonies.
I sensed that a certain distrust existed between the Caste of Scribes and the Caste of Initiates.
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. I was specially drilled in the Code of the Warrior Caste.
"It's just as well," said Torm. "You would never make a Scribe."
The Code of the Warrior was, in general, characterized by a rudimentary chivalry, emphasizing loyalty to the Pride Chiefs and the Home Stone. It was harsh, but with a certain gallantry, a sense of honor that I could respect. A man could do worse than live by such a code.
I was also instructed in the Double Knowledge - that is, I was instructed in what the people, on the whole, believed, and then I was instructed in what the intellectuals were expected to know. Sometimes there was a surprising discrepancy between the two. For example, the population as a whole, the castes below the High Castes, were encouraged to believe that their world was a broad, flat disk. Perhaps this was to discourage them from exploration or to develop in them a habit of relying on commonsense prejudices something of a social control device.
On the other hand, the High Castes, specifically the Warriors, Builders, Scribes, Initiates, and Physicians, were told the truth in such matters, perhaps because it was thought they would eventually determine it for themselves, from observations such as the shadow of their planet on one or another of Gor's three small moons during eclipses, the phenomenon of sighting the tops of distant objects first, and the fact that certain stars could not be seen from certain geographical positions; if the planet had been flat, precisely the same set of stars would have been observable from every position on its surface.
I wondered, however, if the Second Knowledge, that of the intellectuals, might not be as carefully tailored to preclude inquiry on their level as the First Knowledge apparently was to preclude inquiry on the level of the Lower Castes. I would guess that there is a Third Knowledge, that reserved to the Priest-Kings.
"The city-state," said my father, speaking to me one afternoon, "is the basic political division on Gor - hostile cities controlling what territory they can in their environs, surrounded by a no-man's land of open ground on every side."
"How is leadership determined in these cities?" I asked. "Rulers," he said, "are chosen from any High Caste."
"High Caste?" I asked.
"Yes, of course," was his answer. "In fact, in the First Knowledge, there is a story told to the young in their public nurseries, that if a man from Lower Caste should come to rule in a city, the city would come to ruin."
I must have appeared annoyed.
"The caste structure," said my father patiently, with perhaps the trace of a smile on his face, "is relatively immobile, but not frozen, and depends on more than birth. For example, if a child in his schooling shows that he can raise caste, as the expression is, he is permitted to do so. But, similarly, if a child does not show the aptitude expected of his caste, whether it be, say, that of physician or warrior, he is lowered in caste."
"I see," I said, not much reassured.
"The High Castes in a given city," said my father, "elect an administrator and council for stated terms. In times of crisis, a war chief, or Ubar, is named, who rules without check and by decree until, in his judgment, the crisis is passed."
"In his judgment?" I asked skeptically.
"Normally the office is surrendered after the passing of the crisis," said my father. "It is part of the Warrior's Code."
"But what if he does not give up the office" I asked. I had learned enough of Gor by how to know that one could not always count on the Caste Codes being observed.
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.
I met many Goreans, other than Torm, in these weeks free Goreans, mostly of the Caste of Scribes and the Caste of Warriors. The Scribes, of course, are the scholars and clerks of Gor, and there are divisions and rankings within the group, from simple copiers to the savants of the city.
The caste system was socially efficient, given its openness with respect to merit, but I regarded it as somehow ethically objectionable. It was still too rigid, in my opinion, particularly with respect to the selection of rulers from the High Castes and with respect to the Double Knowledge. But far more deplorable than the caste system was the institution of slavery. There were only three statuses conceivable to the Gorean mind outside of the caste system; slave, outlaw, and Priest-King. A man who refused to practice his livelihood or strove to alter status without the consent of the Council of High Castes was, by definition, an outlaw and subject to impalement.
The Goreans have a habit of not revealing names easily. For themselves, particularly among the Lower Castes, they often have a real name and what is called a use name. Often only the closest relatives know the real name.
On the level of the First Knowledge, it is maintained that knowing the real name gives one a power over a person, a capacity to use that name in spells and insidious magical practices. Perhaps something of the same sort lingers even on our native Earth, where the first name of a person is reserved for use, by those who know him intimately and presumably wish him no harm. The second name, which would correspond to the use-name on Gor, is common property, a public sound not sacred or to be protected. At the level of the Second Knowledge, of course, the High Castes, at least in general, recognize the baseless superstition of the Lower Castes and use their own names comparatively freely, usually followed by the name of their city. For example, I would have given my name as Tarl Cabot of Ko-ro-ba, or, more simply, as Tarl of Ko-ro-ba. The Lower Castes, incidentally, commonly believe that the names of the High Castes are actually use-names and that the High Castes conceal their real names.
The Chamber of the Council is the room in which the elected representatives of the High Castes of Ko-ro-ba hold their meetings. Each city has such a chamber. It was in the widest of cylinders, and the ceiling was at least six times the height of the normal living level. The ceiling was lit as if by stars, and the walls were of five colors, applied laterally, beginning from the bottom - white, blue, yellow, green, and red, caste colors. Benches of stone, on which the members of the Council sat, rose in five monumental tiers about the walls, one tier for each of the High Castes. These tiers shared the color of that portion of the wall behind them, the caste colors.
The tier nearest the floor, which denoted some preferential status, the white tier, was occupied by Initiates, Interpreters of the Will of the Priest-Kings. In order, the ascending tiers, blue, yellow, green, and red, were occupied by representatives of the Scribes, Builders, Physicians, and Warriors.
I was pleased to note that my own caste, that of the Warriors, was accorded the least status; if I had had my will, the warriors would not have been a High Caste. On the other hand, I objected to the Initiates being in the place of honor, as it seemed to me that they, even more than the Warriors, were nonproductive members of society. For the Warriors, at least, one could say that they afforded protection to the city, but for the Initiates one could say very little, perhaps only that they provided some comfort for ills and plagues largely of their own manufacture.
The Home Stone of a city is the center of various rituals. The next would be the Planting Feast of Sa-Tarna, the Life-Daughter, celebrated early in the growing season to insure a good harvest. This is a complex feast, celebrated by most Gorean cities, and the observances are numerous and intricate. The details of the rituals are arranged and mostly executed by the Initiates of a given city. Certain portions of the ceremonies, however, are often allotted to members of the High Castes.
In Ar, for example, early in the day, a member of the Builders will go to the roof on which the Home Stone is kept and place the primitive symbol of his trade, a metal angle square, before the Stone, praying to the Priest-Kings for the prosperity of his caste in the coming year; later in the day a Warrior will, similarly, place his arms before the Stone, to be followed by other representatives of each caste. Most significantly, while these members of the High Castes perform their portions of the ritual, the Guards of the Home Stone temporarily withdraw to the interior of the cylinder, leaving the celebrant, it is said, alone with the Priest-Kings.
The dominant colors of her Robes of Concealment were subtle reds, yellows, and purples, arrayed in intricate, overlapping folds. I guessed it would have taken her slave girls hours to array her in such garments. Many of the free women of Gor and almost always those of High Caste wear the Robes of Concealment, though, of course, their garments are seldom as complex or splendidly wrought as those of a Ubar's daughter.
High Caste daughters in Ar are raised in the Walled Gardens, like flowers, until some highborn suitor, preferably a Ubar or Administrator, will pay the bride price set by their fathers."
"Talena is my true name," she said. Of High Caste, it was natural that she was above the common superstitions connected with revealing one's name.
Theoretically, given the seclusion of the High Caste women of Ar, their gilded confinement in the Walled Gardens, it should be reasonably easy to conceal her identity.
"If you wish," he said, "I will buy her."
"She is not for sale."
"Twenty tarn disks," Mintar proposed.
Mintar smiled, too. "Forty," he said.
"No," I said.
He seemed less pleased.
"Forty-five," he said, his voice flat.
"No," I said.
"Is she of High Caste?" asked Mintar, apparently puzzled at my lack of interest in his bargaining. Perhaps his price was too low for a girl of High Caste.
Where others could see no more than the codes of their castes, where others could sense no call of duty beyond that of their Home Stone, I dared to dream the dream of Ar that there might be an end to meaningless warfare, bloodshed, and terror, an end to the anxiety and peril, the retribution and cruelty that cloud our lives - I dreamed that there might arise from the ashes of the conquests of Ar a new world, a world of honor and law, of power and justice."
Ubars have always employed the Initiates as tools, some of the boldest even contending that the social function of the Initiates is to keep the lower castes contented with their servile lot.
Those members of the Caste of Assassins, the most hated caste on Gor, who had served Pa-Kur, were taken in chains down the Vosk to become galley slaves on the cargo ships that ply Gor's oceans.
Marlenus, in spite of his heroic role in the victory, submitted himself to the judgment of Ar's Council of High Castes.
The free cities of Gor appointed Kazrak, my sword brother, to be temporary administrator of Ar, for it was he who, with the help of my father and Sana of Thentis, had rallied the cities to raise the siege. His appointment was confirmed by Ar's Council of High Castes, and his popularity in the city is such that it seems probable that in the future the office will be his by free election.
There was shouting and laughter, and the glorious colors of the castes of Gor mingled equally in the cylinders.
The Goreans generally, though there are exceptions particularly the Caste of Initiates, do not believe in immortality.
The weight the man was carrying was prodigious, and would have staggered men of most castes, even that of the Warriors. The bundle reared itself at least a man's height above his bent back, and extended perhaps some four feet in width. I knew the support of that weight depended partly on the skillful use of the cords and back, but sheer strength was only too obviously necessary, and this man, and his caste brothers, over the generations, had been shaped to their task. Lesser men had turned outlaw or died. In rare cases, one might have been permitted by the Council of High Castes to raise caste. None of course would accept a lower caste, and there were lower castes, the Caste of Peasants, for example, the most basic caste of all Gor.
Whereas I was of high caste and he of low, yet in his own hut he would be, by the laws of Gor, a prince and sovereign, for then he would be in the place of his own Home Stone. Indeed, a cringing whelp of a man, who would never think of lifting his eyes from the ground in the presence of a member of one of the high castes, a crushed and spiritless churl, an untrustworthy villain or coward, an avaricious and obsequious pedlar often becomes, in the place of his own Home Stone, a veritable lion among his fellows, proud and splendid, generous and bestowing, a king be it only in his own den.
"I am Zosk," he said.
I wondered if it were a use-name, or his real name. Members of low castes often call themselves by a use-name, reserving the real name for intimates and friends, to protect it against capture by a sorcerer or worker of spells who might use it to do them harm. Somehow I sensed that Zosk was his real name.
To be sure, in certain cities, as had been the case in Ko-ro-ba, women were permitted status within the caste system and had a relatively unrestricted existence.
On the shoulders of their gray tunics only a small band of color indicated caste. Normally the caste colors of Gor would be in abundant evidence, enlivening the streets and bridges of the city, a glorious spectacle in Gor's bright, clear air.
I wondered if men in this city were not proud of their castes, as were, on the whole, other Goreans, even those of the so-called lower castes. Even men of a caste as low as that of the Tarnkeepers were intolerably proud of their calling, for who else could raise and train those monstrous birds of prey? I supposed Zosk the Woodsman was proud in the knowledge that he with his great broad-headed ax could fell a tree in one blow, and that perhaps not even a Ubar could do as much. Even the Caste of Peasants regarded itself as the "Ox on which the Home Stone Rests" and could seldom be encouraged to leave their narrow strips of land, which they and their fathers before them had owned and made fruitful.
Though on Gor the free maiden is by custom expected to see her future companion only after her parents have selected him, it is common knowledge that he is often a youth she has met in the marketplace. He who speaks for her hand, especially if she is of low caste, is seldom unknown to her, although the parents and the young people as well solemnly act as though this were the case.
Kal-da is a hot drink, almost scalding, made of diluted Ka-la-na wine, mixed with citrus juices and stinging spices. I did not care much for this mouth-burning concoction, but it was popular with some of the lower castes, particularly those who performed strenuous manual labor.
"What is your business?" asked the proprietor of the place, a small, thin, bald-headed man wearing a short-sleeved gray tunic and slick black apron. He did not approach, but remained behind the wooden counter, slowly, deliberately wiping the puddles of spilled Kal-da from its stained surface.
"I am passing through Tharna," I said. "And I would like to purchase a tarn to continue my journey. Tonight I want food and lodging."
"This is not a place," said the man, "for one of High Caste."
I looked about, at the men in the room, into the dejected, haggard faces. In the light it was difficult to determine their caste for they all wore the gray robes of Tharna and only a band of color on the shoulder indicated their station in the social fabric. What struck me most about them had nothing to do with caste, but rather their lack of spirit. I did not know if they were weak, or if they merely thought poorly of themselves. They seemed to me to be without energy, without pride, to be flat, dry, crashed men, men without self-respect.
"You are of high caste, of the Caste of Warriors," said the proprietor. "It is not proper that you should remain here."
Her tarnsmen might be mercenaries, or perhaps men like Thorn, Captain of Tharna, who in spite of their city thought well of themselves and maintained at least the shreds of caste pride.
What had happened would have been regarded by the untrained Gorean mind, particularly that of a low caste individual, as evidence of some supernatural force, as some magical effect of the will of the Priest-Kings. I myself did not willingly entertain such hypotheses.
The tarn had struck a field of some sort, which perhaps acted on the mechanism of his inner ear, resulting in the loss of balance and coordination.
Actually, fifty silver tarn disks was an extremely high price, and indicated the girl was probably of high caste as well as extremely beautiful. An ordinary girl, of low caste, comely but untrained, might, depending on the market, sell for as little as five or as many as thirty tarn disks.
The shop itself was now hung with perhaps half a hundred lamps and the walls were bright with the caste colors of the men who drank there.
In the streets of Tharna shortly after the end of the revolt the caste colors of Gor began to appear openly in the garments of the citizens.
It took not much time to purchase a small bundle of supplies to take into the Sardar, nor was it difficult to find a scribe to whom I might entrust the history of the events at Tharna. I did not ask his name nor he mine. I knew his caste, and he knew mine, and it was enough.
Those of the High Castes of Gor are permitted by the Priest-Kings only the Second Knowledge, and those of the lower castes are permitted only the more rudimentary First Knowledge.
The second girl was tall, fragile and willowy, with slender ankles and large, hurt eyes; she had dark, curling hair that fell about her shoulders and stood out against the white of her garment; she may have been of High Caste; without speaking to her it would be hard to tell; even then it might be difficult to be sure, for the accents of some of the higher artisan castes approximate pure High Caste Gorean; she stood with her back against the far wall, the palms of her hands against it, her eyes fastened on me, frightened, scarcely breathing. As far as I could tell she too was alone.
My Chamber Slave's accent had been pure High Caste Gorean though I could not place the city. Probably her caste had been that of the Builders or Physicians, for had her people been Scribes I would have expected a greater subtlety of inflections, the use of less common grammatical cases; and had her people been of the Warriors I would have expected a blunter speech, rather belligerently simple, expressed in great reliance on the indicative mood and, habitually, a rather arrogant refusal to venture beyond the most straightforward of sentence structures.
"My father," she said, "was of the Caste of Physicians."
So I thought to myself, I had placed her accent rather well, either Builders or Physicians, and had I thought carefully enough about it, I might have recognized her accent as being a bit too refined for the Builders.
I knew that Gorean caste lines, though largely following birth, were not inflexible, and that a man who did not care for his caste might be allowed to change caste, if approved by the High Council of his city, an approval usually contingent on his qualifications for the work of another caste and the willingness of the members of the new caste to accept him as a Caste Brother.
From where Vika and I stood together on the rocky trail, now scarcely able to keep our feet on the path, we could see vast crowds, robed in all the caste colors of Gor, clustered outside the remains of the palisade, looking fearfully within.
The Wagon Peoples, as might be expected, have a large and complex oral literature. This is kept by and occasionally, in parts, recited by the Camp Singers. They do not have castes, as Goreans tend to think of them. For example, every male of the Wagon Peoples is expected to be a warrior, to be able to ride, to be able to hunt, to care for the bosk, and so on. When I speak of Year Keepers and Singers it must be understood that these are not, for the Wagon Peoples, castes, but more like roles, subsidiary to their main functions, which are those of the war, herding and the hunt. They do have, however, certain clans, not castes, which specialize in certain matters, for example, the clan of healers, leather workers, salt hunters, and so on. I have already mentioned the clan of torturers. The members of these clans, however, like the Year Keepers and Singers, are all expected, first and foremost, to be, as it is said, of the wagons namely to follow, tend and protect the bosk, to be superb in the saddle, and to be skilled with the weapons of both the hunt and war.
a really beautiful girl, particularly if of free birth and high caste, might bring as much as forty pieces of gold
I was pleased to see again, though often done in silk, the splendid varieties of caste colors of the typical Gorean city, to hear once more the cries of peddlers that I knew so well, the cake sellers, the hawkers of vegetables, the wine vendor bending under a double verrskin of his vintage.
Without speaking the man took twenty pieces of gold, tarn disks of Ar, of double weight, and gave them to Kuurus, who placed them in the pockets of his belt. The Assassins, unlike most castes, do not carry pouches.
Goreans do not generally favor begging, and some regard it as an insult that there should be such, an insult to them and their city. When charity is in order, as when a man cannot work or a woman is alone, usually such is arranged through the caste organization, but sometimes through the clan, which is not specifically caste oriented but depends on ties of blood through the fifth degree. If one, of course, finds oneself in effect without caste or clan, as was perhaps the ease with the small fool named Hup, and one cannot work, one's life is likely to be miserable and not of great length.
Moreover, Goreans are extremely sensitive about names, and who may speak them. Indeed, some, particularly those of low caste, even have use names, concealing their true names, lest they be discovered by enemies and used to conjure spells against them.
Even in Thentis black wine is used commonly only in High Caste homes."
Some low-caste free women drank through their veils and there were yellow and purple stains on the rep-cloth.
Almost everyone in the crowd wore some indication of the faction he favored. Generally, it was a small faction patch sewn on the left shoulder; the faction patches of the High-Caste women tended to be fine silk, and tastefully done; those of low-caste women merely a square of crudely stitched, dyed rep-cloth;
The door to the hall suddenly burst open and two guards, followed by two others burst in. The first two guards were holding between them a heavy man, with a paunch that swung beneath his robes, wild-eyed, his hands extended to Cernus. Though he wore the robe of the metal workers, though now without a hood, he was not of that caste.
"Portus!" whispered Ho-Tu.
I, too, of course, recognized him.
"Caste sanctuary!" cried Portus, shaking himself free of the guards and stumbling forward and falling on his knees before the wooden dais on which sat the table of Cernus.
Cernus did not look up from his game.
"Caste sanctuary!" screamed Portus.
The Slavers, incidentally, are of the Merchant Caste, though, in virtue of their merchandise and practices, their robes are different. Yet, if one of them were to seek Caste Sanctuary, he would surely seek it from Slavers, and not from common Merchants. Many Slavers think of themselves as an independent caste. Gorean law, however, does not so regard them. The average Gorean thinks of them simply as Slavers, but, if questioned, would unhesitantly rank them with the Merchants. Many castes, incidentally, have branches and divisions. Lawyers and Scholars, for example, and Record Keepers, Teachers, Clerks, Historians and Accountants are all Scribes.
"Caste sanctuary!" again pleaded Portus, on his knees before the table of Cernus. The girl with the kalika had lightly fled from between the tables.
"Do not disturb the game," said Caprus to Portus.
It seemed incredible to me that Portus had come to the House of Cernus, for much bad blood had existed between the houses. Surely to come to this place, the house of his enemy, must have been a last recourse in some fearful set of events, to throw himself on the mercies of Cernus, claiming Caste Sanctuary.
"They have taken my properties!" cried Portus. "You have nothing to fear. I have no men! I have no gold! I have only the garb on my back! Tarnsmen! Soldiers! The very men of the street! With torches and ropes! I barely escaped with my life. My house is confiscated by the state! I am nothing! I am nothing!"
Cernus meditated his move, his chin on his two fists, one above the other.
"Caste sanctuary!" whined Portus. "Caste sanctuary, I beg of you. I beg of you!"
The hand of Cernus lifted, as though to move his Ubar, and then drew back. Caprus had leaned forward, with anticipation.
"Only you in Ar can protect me," cried Portus. "I give you the trade of Ar! I want only my life! Caste Sanctuary! Caste Sanctuary!"
Cernus smiled at Caprus and then, unexpectedly, as though he had been teasing him, he placed his first tarnsman at Ubara's Scribe Two.
Caprus studied the board for a moment and then, with an exasperated laugh, tipped his own Ubar, conceding the board and game.
Cernus now, while Caprus replaced the pieces of the game, regarded Portus.
"I was your enemy," said Portus. "But now I am nothing. Only a caste brother, nothing. I beg of you Caste Sanctuary."
Caprus, looking up from his work, regarded Portus. "What was your crime?" he asked.
Portus wrung his hands, and his head rolled wildly. "I do not know," he cried. "I do not know!" Then, piteously, Portus lifted his hands to Cernus, Master of the House of Cernus. "Caste Sanctuary!" he pleaded.
"Put him in chains," said Cernus, "and take him to the cylinder of Minus Tentius Hinrabius."
Portus cried out for mercy as he was dragged away by two guards, two others following.
The first bid was some four gold pieces, which was good, and suggested that the night might go well. Prices of girls vary considerably with her caste, the supply of her general type and the trends of the market. A girl in the Curulean is seldom sold for less than two gold pieces. This is largely, doubtless, because the Curulean refuses to accept women for sale who are not genuinely attractive. In a rather brief amount of time Verbina was auctioned to a young Warrior for seven gold pieces. An extremely good price, under relatively normal market conditions, for a truly beautiful woman of High Caste tends to be about thirty pieces of gold, though some go as high as forty, and fifty is not unknown; these prices, for women of low caste, may be approximately halved.
Rep is a whitish fibrous matter found in the seed pods of a small, reddish, woody bush, commercially grown in several areas, but particularly below Ar and above the equator; the cheap rep-cloth is woven in mills, commonly, in various cities; it takes dyes well and, being cheap and strong, is popular, particularly among the lower castes.
"And I was taught many other things, too," said she, "when I could read, even to the second knowledge."
That was reserved, generally, for the high castes on Gor.
Unfortunately for Targo, village girls are not of high caste. On the other hand, if worth a good deal less, they are much more easily acquired than a high-caste, free woman. When I was taken by Targo, he had only one high-caste girl on his chain the tall girl, Inge, who was of the scribes. Ute, who had been harnessed next to me, had been of the leather workers. A slave, of course, in one sense, has no caste. In being enslaved, she is robbed of caste, as well as of her name. She belongs to her master in all respects, as an animal. He may call her what he wishes, and do with her what he pleases. It seemed not unlikely that one of Targo's village girls, if trained and brought to Ar, might net him from ten to fifteen, perhaps even twenty, gold pieces.
Once I noted, speaking to Inge, that Ute, regularly, made certain grammatical errors. "Yes," said Inge, matter-of-factly, "she is of the leather workers."
I then felt superior to Ute. I myself would not make those mistakes. I was Elinor Brinton.
"I will speak high-caste Gorean," I told Inge.
Ena, the high girl, who wore the garment of white, had not been much pleased that I did not have a caste, and could not claim a familiar city as my place of origin.
It could perhaps be mentioned that such work, cooking, cleaning and laundering, and such, is commonly regarded as being beneath even free women, particularly those of high caste.
"I am of the warriors," he told me, "which is a high caste. I have been educated in the second knowledge, so I know of your world. Your accent marked you as barbarian."
I looked up at him.
"I know you are of the world which you call Earth," he said.
She had been the daughter of a Ubar. But she had been disowned.
She, while slave, could not even stand in companionship.
She, even if freed, without family, and, by the same act, without caste, would have a status beneath the dignity of the meanest peasant wench, secure in the rights of her caste.
Even if freed, Talena would be among the lowest women on Gor. Even a slave girl has at least a collar.
Companionship with such a person, an ex-slave, one without caste, one without family and position, would be, politically and socially, a gross and incomparable mistake.
His accent bespoke a low caste.
His accent was not of high caste;
A gold tarn disk of Ar is more than many common laborers earn in a year. Many low-caste Goreans have never held one in their hand.
some years ago, it was not even uncommon for lower-caste families in the south to give the name 'Dina' to their daughters; that practice has now largely vanished, with the opening and expansion of greater trade, and cultural exchange, between such cities as Ko-ro-ba and Ar, and the giant of the southern hemisphere, Turia.
Veils are worn in various numbers and combinations by Gorean free women, this tending to vary by preference and caste. Many low-class Gorean women own only a single veil which must do for all purposes. Not all high-caste women wear a large number of veils. A free woman, publicly, will commonly wear one or two veils; a frequent combination is the light veil, or last veil, and the house or street veil. Rich, vain women of high caste may wear ostentatiously as many as nine or ten veils.
Too, from Thandar's point of view, if the match turned out to be a misery he, being a Gorean male of high caste, could content himself with bought women, who would fight one another and beg on their bellies to serve one such as he.
Whereas caste membership is commonly connected with the practice of an occupation, such as agriculture, or commerce, or war, there can be, of course, caste members who are not engaged in caste work and individuals who do certain forms of work who are not members of that caste commonly associated with such work. Caste, commonly, though not invariably, is a matter of birth. One may, too, be received into a caste by investment. Normally mating takes place among caste members, but if the mating is of mixed caste, the woman may elect to retain caste, which is commonly done, or be received into the caste of the male companion. Caste membership of the children born of such a union is a function of the caste of the father. Similar considerations, in certain cities, hold of citizenship. Caste is important to Goreans in a way that is difficult for members of a non-caste society to understand. Though there are doubtless difficulties involved with caste structure the caste situation lends an individual identity and pride, allies him with thousands of caste brothers, and provides him with various opportunities and services. Recreation on Gor is often associated with caste, and tournaments and entertainments. Similarly, most public charity on Gor is administered through caste structure. The caste system is not inflexible and there are opportunities for altering caste, but men seldom avail themselves of them; they take great pride in their castes often comparing others' castes unfavorably to their own; a Gorean's caste, by the time he reaches adulthood, seems to have become a part of his very blood and being; the average Gorean would no more think of altering caste than the average man of Earth would of altering his citizenship, from, say, American to Russian, or French to Chinese. The caste structure, in spite of its many defects, doubtless contributes to the stability of Gorean society, a society in which the individual has a place, in which his work is respected, and in which he can plan intelligently with respect to the future. The clan structures are kinship groups. They function, on the whole, given mating practices, within the caste structure, but they are not identical to it. For example, in a given clan there may be, though often are not, individuals of different castes. Many Goreans think of the clan as a kinship group within a caste. For most practical purposes they are correct. At least it seldom does much harm to regard the matter this way. Clans, because of practical limitations on mobility, are usually associated, substantially, with a given city; the caste, on the other hand, is transmunicipal or intermunicipal.
"I am sufficient onto the task of putting a slack, fat fellow such as you under caste discipline," grinned Bran Loort.
"And, too, this night," said Ladletender, "I drink to one with whom I do not share caste but that which is stronger than caste, the blood of brotherhood, Thurnus, he of Tabuk's Ford."
When a girl is enslaved she loses caste, of course, as well as citizenship, rights and personhood; when she is enslaved she becomes an animal, subject to the whips and wills of masters.
The fairs, too, however, have many other functions. For example, they serve as a scene of caste conventions, and as loci for the sharing of discoveries and research. It is here, for example, that physicians, and builders and artisans may meet and exchange ideas and techniques.
I returned my attention to the puppet show. Now upon its tiny stage was being enacted the story of the Ubar and the Peasant. Each, wearied by his labors, decides to change his place with the other. Naturally this does not prove fruitful for either individual. 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.
I would stay in one of the public tents tonight. For five copper tarsks one may rent furs and a place in the tent. It is expensive, but it is, after all, En'Kara and the time of the fair. In such tents it is not unusual for peasants to lie crowded, side by side, with captains and merchants. During En'Kara, at the Fair, many of the distinctions among men and castes are forgotten.
Language and city, and caste, however, are matters of great moment to them, and provide a sufficient basis for the discriminations in which human beings take such great delight.
"Are you of the metal workers or the leather workers?" she asked.
"Let us not bother about that now," I said, knotting the cords on the sea bag. I looked about the room. Aside from Sasi what I owned there was either on my person or in the sea bag.
"A girl likes to know the caste of her master," she said.
Many Goreans, even those educated to the second knowledge, that afforded the higher castes, find it hard to believe that the delicious Earth women who show up in their markets could possibly have been free on their native world. They are just too obviously marvelous slave meat.
"Why is it," she asked, "that the men of Gor do not think and move in herds, like those of Earth?"
"I do not know," I said. "Perhaps they are different. Perhaps the culture is different. Perhaps it has something to do with the decentralization of city states, the multiplicity of traditions, the diversity of the caste codes."
"He is Ngumi," said Shaba. "He is courageous, indeed. We did not know if he would get through."
"I did not know a scribe could be so courageous," I said.
"There are brave men in all castes," said Shaba.
Though one is commonly born into a caste one is often not permitted to practice the caste craft until a suitable apprenticeship has been served. This guarantees the quality of the caste product. It is possible, though it is seldom the case, that members of a caste are not permitted to practice specific caste skills, though they may be permitted to practice subsidiary skills. For example, one who is of the Metalworkers might not be permitted to work iron, but might be permitted to do such things as paint iron, and transport and market it. Caste rights, of course, such as the right to caste support in time of need and caste sanctuary, when in flight, which are theirs by birth, remain theirs. The women of a given caste, it should be noted, often do not engage in caste work. For example, a woman in the Metalworkers does not, commonly, work at the forge, nor is a woman of the Builders likely to be found supervising the construction of fortifications. Caste membership, for Goreans, is generally a simple matter of birth; it is not connected necessarily with the performance of certain skills, nor the attainment of a given level of proficiency in such skills. To be sure, certain skills tend to be associated traditionally with certain castes, a fact which is clearly indicated in caste titles, such as the Leatherworkers, the Metalworkers, the Singers, and the Peasants. A notable exception to the generalization that women of a given caste normally do not engage in caste work is the caste of Physicians, whose women are commonly trained, as are the boys, in the practice of medicine. Even the physicians, however, normally do not admit their women to full practice until they have borne two children. The purpose of this is to retain a high level of intelligence in the caste. Professional women, it is well understood, tend not to reproduce themselves, a situation which, over time, would be likely to produce a diminution in the quality of the caste. Concern for the future of the caste is thus evinced in this limitation by the physicians on the rights of their women to participate without delay in the caste craft. The welfare of the caste, typically, takes priority in the Gorean mind over the ambitions of specific individuals.
Caste is important to the Gorean in ways that are difficult to make clear to one whose social structures do not include the relationships of caste. In almost every city, for example, one knows that there will be caste brothers on whom one may depend. Charity, too, for example, is almost always associated with caste rights on Gor. One of the reasons there are so few outlaws on Gor is doubtless that the outlaw, in adopting his way of life, surrenders caste rights. The slave, too, of course, has no caste rights. He stands outside the structure of society. He is an animal. It is said on Gor that only slaves, outlaws and Priest-Kings, rumored to be the rulers of Gor, reputed to live in the remote Sardar Mountains, are without caste. This saying, however, it might be pointed out, as Goreans recognize, is not strictly true. For example, some individuals have lost caste, or been deprived of caste; some individuals have been born outside of caste; certain occupations are not traditionally associated with caste, such as gardening, domestic service and herding; and, indeed, there are entire cultures and peoples on Gor to whom caste is unknown. Similarly, caste lines tend sometimes to be vague, and the relation between castes and subcastes. Slavers, for example, sometimes think of themselves as being of the Merchants, and sometimes as being a separate caste. They do have their own colors, blue and yellow, those of the Merchants being white and gold. Too, are the bargemen of the Southern Cartius a caste or not? They think of themselves as such, but many do not see the matter in the same light. There are, on Gor, it might be mentioned, ways of raising and altering caste, but the Gorean seldom avails himself of these. To most Goreans it would be unthinkable to alter caste. He is generally too proud of his caste and it is too much a part of him for him to think in such terms. It is, too, recognized that all, or most, of the castes perform necessary, commendable or useful functions. The Leatherworker, accordingly, does not spend much time envying the Metalworker, or the Metalworker the Leatherworker, or either the Clothworker, and so on. All need sandals and wallets, and clothes, and metal tools. Each does, however, tend to think of his own caste as something special, and, somehow, I suspect, as being perhaps a little bit preferable to the others. Most Goreans are quite content with their castes; this is probably a function of caste pride. I have little doubt but what the caste structure contributes considerably to the stability of Gorean society. Among other things it reduces competitive chaos, social and economic, and prevents the draining of intelligence and ambition into a small number of envied, prestigious occupations. If one may judge by the outcome of Kaissa tournaments, amateur tournaments as opposed to those in which members of the caste of Players participate, there are brilliant men in most castes.
Many slave fights are little more than bloody brawls, which free persons are pleased to witness. Kenneth and Barus, on the other hand, who bet on such matters, took these fights seriously.
Gorean free persons of high caste, of course, tended to take little note of these matters.
Free women, drinking, commonly lift their veil, or veils, with the left hand. Low-caste free women, if veiled, usually do the same. Sometimes, however, particularly if in public, they will drink through their veil, or veils.
"I understand," I said. I had a respect for caste honor. Honor was honor, in small things as well as great. Indeed, how can one practice honor in great things, if not in small things?
The classical knowledge distinctions on Gor tend to follow caste lines, the first knowledge being regarded as appropriate for the lower castes and the second knowledge for the higher castes. That there is a third knowledge, that of Priest-Kings, is also a common belief. The distinctions, however, between knowledge tend to be somewhat imperfect and artificial. For example, the second knowledge, while required of the higher castes and not of the lower castes, is not prohibited to the lower castes. It is not a body of secret or jealously guarded truths, for example. Gorean libraries, like the tables of Kaissa tournaments, tend to be open to men of all castes.
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. Provisions for changing caste exist on Gor, but they are seldom utilized. Most Goreans are proud of their castes and the skills appropriate to them. Such skills, too, tend to be appreciated by other Goreans, and are not looked down on.
"I am of humble caste," I said. It made me nervous, of course, to say such things. For a slave to claim caste is a serious matter.
To be sure, much charity, and fraternal organizations, and even outings, and such, are organized on caste lines. Caste is extremely important to most Goreans, even when they do not all practice the traditional crafts of their caste. It is one of the "nationalities" of the Gorean, so to speak. Other common "nationalities," so to speak, are membership in a kinship organization, such as a clan, or phratry, a group of clans, or a larger grouping yet, a tribe or analogous to a tribe, a group of phratries, and a pledged allegiance to a Home Stone, usually that of a village, town or city. It seems that in the distant past of Gor these kinship allegiances were, in effect, political allegiances, or generated political allegiances, which, later, interestingly, as life became more complex, and populations more mobile, became separated. Kinship structures do not now figure strongly in Gorean public life, although in some cities divisions of the electorate, those free citizens entitled to participate in referenda, and such, remain based on them.
"Whether the degree of your exposure was sufficient to violate the codes of decorum is a subtle point," said Aemilianus, "but I will not press it."
"Surely many low-caste girls go about with only as much, or even less," she said.
"But you are of the Merchants," said Aemilianus, smiling.
"A low caste!" she said.
I smiled. The Merchants often maintain that they are a high caste, and should, accordingly, be included in the councils of high caste. Now, however, it seemed she was eager to accept that, and stress that, the Merchants was not a high caste. The traditional high castes of Gor are the Initiates, Scribes, Builders, Physicians and Warriors.
"I do not press the point," said Aemilianus.
"And if I dressed in such a manner that my caste would not be clear," she said, "it is no more than many women do upon occasion. Surely some women even reserve the caste robes and colors for such things as formal occasions, and some even for ceremonial functions."
"True," said Aemilianus.
"I do not think then I should be held accountable under the charge of attempting to deceive with respect to caste," she said. "For example, I engaged in no business under false pretenses, and I never claimed explicitly to be of a caste other than my own." It seemed to me that she did have a point here. The legal problems connected with intent to deceive with respect to caste, of course, problems of the sort which presumably constitute the rationale of the law, usually come up in cases of fraud or impersonation, for example, with someone pretending to be of the Physicians. "And, too," she continued, "if conquering Cosians should have seen fit to take me for a simple, low-caste maid, I see no reason why the laws of Ar's station should now be exercised against me. What would be the point of that, to protect Cosians from a mistake which they never had the opportunity to make?"
"You hoped by your mode of dress, and such," said Aemilianus, "to conceal that you were of a caste on which vengeances might be visited, and thus to improve your chances of survival."
His accent was Cosian, of course, but it was a high-caste Cosian accent, intelligible to all.
"There are brave men in all castes," smiled Marcus.
The man with the fellow who had returned to the terrace was, as I would later learn to recognize at a glance by his garb, a member of the leather workers. In many of the Gorean cities there is a caste structure which is significant not only socially but politically. The leather workers are a "low caste." The high castes are normally accounted five in number - the Warriors, the Builders, the Physicians, the Scribes, and the Initiates. The Initiates are sometimes thought of as the highest of the five high castes, and the Warriors commonly produce the administrators and ubars for a city. It is not easy in a world such as this to deprive those who are skilled with weapons their share of authority. If it is not given to them, they will take it. There are some ambiguities in the caste structure. For example, some rank the Merchants as a high caste, and some do not; and some rank the Slavers with the Merchants, and some see them as a separate caste, and so on. It is usually a very serious thing to lose caste in this society. To be sure, not everyone has caste. Priest-Kings, for example, whoever they may be, have no caste. They are said to be "above caste." Similarly, outlaws and slaves have no caste. Outlaws are thought to have relinquished caste, and, in a sense, thus, to be "out of caste," and slaves, of course, as animals, are "below caste," or, perhaps better, "aside from caste" or "apart from caste." To be sure, I think there are others who also lack caste, really. Some may not have been raised "in caste," some may decline or flee their castes before the initiations, and so on. Similarly, there are entire groups of people, as I understand it, barbarians, savages, and such, whose social arrangements are not based on caste. Very little on this world, and, I suppose, on others, is simple.
They also gave her some understanding of the social arrangements common in what were called the "high cities," in particular, the caste system, and the existence of codes of honor, and such, apparently taken seriously on this world.
The baring of a woman's arms, on the world on which she now was, was normally regarded as revealing and sensuous. Indeed, women of a status, or station, above her own commonly veiled themselves when appearing in public, particularly those of the high castes.
Rank, distance and hierarchy are ingredient in Gorean social arrangements. The intricate stratification of society tends to produce social stability. The myth that all are equal when obviously they are not tends to ferment unrest. Each desires to climb the invisible ladder he claims does not exist. In Gorean society, with its emphasis on locality and neighborhood, with its diverse Home Stones, each with its own history and traditions, with its many castes and subcastes, each with its acknowledged privileges and rights, and obligations, respected by all, political upheavals, social disruptions, are not only rare, but to most Goreans almost incomprehensible. There is little cause for such things, little interest in them, little place for them. They just do not fit. In Gorean society there is no nameless, faceless, anonymous, ponderous, swarming many ruled by a secret few. Too richly formed, too proud, too self-respecting, too intricately structured, too much like nature herself, is Gorean society for that. Too, there are the codes, and honor.
She lifted the garment she was washing, dripping and hot, from the suds. It was a garment doubtless of a free woman. The material was of high quality, and so the woman must be of reasonable station, if not of high caste. She herself did not even know how to put on such a garment, how to drape it, and such. Such women, she supposed, were above menial chores. They would not, for example, do their own laundry. High-caste women, in general, or those of the Merchants, she supposed, would not do their own laundry either, but they might have a slave, or slaves, in their own domiciles to attend to such work.
She supposed that women of low caste must do their own laundry.
In this sense a woman is without specific or actual value until she becomes a slave; it is then that she acquires specific or actual value. To be sure, these considerations are based largely on legal fictions, for, in fact, free women do have tangible values, the higher born being valued better than the lower born, the upper castes over the lower castes, the more intelligent over the less intelligent, the more beautiful over the less beautiful, and so on.
She had little doubt that they were her slave papers. Such papers, as may have been mentioned, are unnecessary and are not kept on the vast majority of slaves. They can provide a convenience to buyers and sellers, however, as they will provide a good deal of information, with respect to background, caste, education, languages, training levels, physical descriptions, collar sizes, ankle- and wrist-ring sizes, and such, on the slave in question.
Whereas in the laundry she and the others had often washed garments of free women, those garments had seldom been the cumbersome Robes of Concealment. Usually they had been house garments, garden robes, veils, hose, subrobes, and such. She had washed street himations frequently enough, however, of the sort which were sometimes worn by free women, particularly those of the lower-castes. The street himation is far less bulky and protective than the usual Robes of Concealment, less stiffness, less brocade, less embroidery and such. It is, of course, almost always combined with the veil. Gorean free women, at least in the high cities, almost always wear veils in public, although some women of the lower castes are occasionally careless in this particular, permitting lax arrangements, and such, especially the maidens.
It impressed her as a crowded, dirty, low market, presumably frequented primarily by the poor, or by those of the lower castes, individuals who must carefully guard even their smallest coins.
If possible the crowd seemed dirtier, rougher, and meaner. Some men may not have had employment, or desired such, and now, like nocturnal animals, they came furtively from their insulae, like urts from their holes. There seemed more lower-caste women than before. Some were not veiled.
The man's tunic was scarlet, and he wore a sword belt slung across his body, from the right shoulder to the scabbard at his left hip, facilitating the right-handed draw. This belt, and the scabbard, and the crest on his helmet, were yellow. Though this was not known to Ellen at the time, the scarlet denoted the caste of Warriors, one of the five high castes of Gor, the others being the Initiates, Physicians, Builders and Scribes.
The Gorean slave girl, unlike free women, particularly those of lower caste, is not permitted to be vulgar.
Sometimes when low-caste women are enslaved they must be taught to be more ladylike, as their masters will have that of them. Their mouths, for example, may be washed out with soap, literally. That is a symbolic, but surely unpleasant, lesson they are not likely to forget. And it may be repeated as often as the master pleases. Most upper-caste women, whereas they might be smug, haughty or cruel, are not vulgar, regarding vulgar language, allusions, gestures, and such as being incompatible with the dignity of their caste. This is not to deny that an upper-caste woman, say, recently enslaved, or any slave girl, for that matter, may not be commanded upon occasion to use the most vulgar language conceivable, in referring to herself, or in begging for use, and such.
Ellen could hear, too, now and then, the clack of high, wooden, platformlike, cloglike footwear, such as is sometimes worn by free women, particularly of high caste, which lift the hems of their gowns a bit from the ground, and serve to protect delicately slippered or sandaled feet from dust and mud.
Surely she should serve in a mansion or palace, or a great cylinder, in rich quarters.
Did they truly not know her worth, what she deserved? How was it then that she had been purchased by a tarnmaster, a fellow not even of high caste?
"My master is of the Warriors," she said, "but like many of that caste, he has done various works. Many caste members, as you know, do not concern themselves specifically with caste business. He is not now in fee."
She bit off pieces of the bread while kneeling. There was nothing untoward in this, or unique to her condition, which was that of slave, for Gorean women in the high cities, and particularly those of high caste, commonly eat kneeling, or reclining, at low tables, as Gorean men in the high cities, particularly those of the higher castes, commonly eat at such tables cross-legged, or, like the women, reclining.
Speaking of illiteracy, however, it should be noted that illiteracy is not that uncommon on Gor. For example, many Goreans of low caste are illiterate. Indeed, many seem to regard reading as an accomplishment ill befitting decent, serious folks, an accomplishment more appropriate, at least, to the high castes than to theirs. Interestingly, too, many of the warriors, and that is a high caste, pride themselves on an inability to read, seeing that homely, and somewhat magical, skill, as one not for them, if not actually beneath them. And some who can read pretend to ignorance of the skill.
But, too, as has been noted, illiteracy is not that uncommon on Gor, particularly amongst the lower castes.
Most figuring is done on an abacus. It is said, interestingly, that some of the higher castes, for example, the Scribes and Builders, have a secret notation which facilitates their calculations.
Although the caste of Mirus might be unclear from the particular nature of his garmenture, Ellen supposed him of the slavers, which would be a subcaste of the Merchants, which caste was doubtless the wealthiest on Gor, and one which was often wont to view itself, perhaps in virtue of its wealth, if not as well in virtue of its influence and power, as a high caste, a tendency which, however, was not widely shared, save perhaps, at least publicly, by its clients and sycophants. Goreans respect wealth but tend to value other attributes more highly, and, indeed, to the credit of the Merchants, it should be noted that they usually do so, as well. One such attribute is fidelity; another is honor. Gor is not Earth.
"You have a bid?" asked the auctioneer.
"I bid one," said the man.
"I do not understand," said the auctioneer.
"One golden tarn disk, of the Ubar's mint, of Cos," called the man.
A murmur of surprise, and interest, and disbelief, coursed through the crowd.
Ellen shook her head, wildly, disconcerted, frightened.
"What is your caste?" called Mirus to the man.
"Surely one need not certify caste to bid in open auction," said the fellow. "I do not recall that being required hitherto, here or elsewhere."
"A ruling!" called Mirus.
"Certification of caste is not a prerequisite for bidding," said the auctioneer.
The "scarlet caste" was a way of referring to the caste of Warriors, the expression being suggested by the usual color of their tunics. Ellen had seen many scarlet tunics in Ar, mostly those of mercenaries and Cosian regulars. As Portus Canio had referred to Bosk of Port Kar and Marcus, of Ar's Station, as friends of the "scarlet caste," they must be then, thought Ellen, of the Warriors.
Goreans, of all castes, are skilled at thonging, braceleting, binding and such. That is to be expected in a natural society, a society in which a prized and essential ingredient is female slavery, a society in which it is an accepted, respected, unquestioned, honored tradition, an institution sanctioned in both custom and law. Even boys are taught, under the tutelage of their fathers, how to bind female slaves, hand and foot. They are also trained in gagging and blindfolding, two useful devices for controlling and training slaves.
Are we expected to prostrate ourselves?" asked Cabot. He had, incidentally, no intention of doing so.
"Certainly not," said Peisistratus. "We are not women or slaves. We are free men, of caste."
"Many free women work," said Cabot. "Even free women of the upper castes often work. Not all have slaves or servants. Too, work is quite common with free women of the lower castes."
Too, he was not Gorean. He knew not the ways of Gor. He had no clan, no caste, no Home Stone.
To be sure, it is not easy to change caste, nor is it frequently done. Indeed, few would wish to do it.
Goreans tend to be extremely devoted to their castes. In a sense they belong to their caste. It is surely part of their selfidentity, and not only in their own eyes, but in the eyes of others, as well. And, indeed, there are few caste members who are not convinced that their caste, somehow, is especially important, even that it may be, in some way, the most essential or the most estimable of all. Surely the peasants, supposedly the lowest of all the castes, have this view. They regard themselves as the "ox on which the Home Stone rests," and, in a sense, they may be right. On the other hand, where would any of the other castes be, or civilization itself, were it not for my own caste, that of the Warriors?
Colors in the Gorean high cultures, as in most cultures, have their connotations or symbolisms. Too, in the Gorean high culture, certain colors tend to be associated with certain castes, for example green with the Physicians, red, or scarlet, with the Warriors, yellow with the Builders, blue with the Scribes, white with the Initiates, and so on.
The typical Gorean male, particularly of what the high castes think of as the lower castes, tends to be direct, open, uninhibited, unrestrained, high-spirited, exuberant, and emotional. He is quick to take umbrage, quick to fight, quick to forgive, quick to forget.
A mystery did remain, of course, to the west, even for those admitted to the Second Knowledge, usually those of the higher castes.
Whereas all natural societies are characterized by rank, distance, and hierarchy, acknowledged or not, I think there is no Gorean caste, from the highest to the lowest, which does not regard itself as the equal or superior, in one way or another, to that of every other. Where would society be without the Builders, the Merchants, the Metal Workers, the Cloth Workers, the Wood Workers, the Leather Workers, the Peasant, with the great bow, the ox on whom the Home Stone rests?
Many fellows, of course, do not wear their caste robes about, except when on caste business, and some don them only on formal occasions or holidays. Many free women, for example, and some men, concerned with respect to their appearance, do not care to limit their wardrobes as narrowly as their castes might seem to recommend.
We were not to date beneath our station, for, just as you have castes, we have social divisions which, in their way, are also strict.
"I trust I will be of the Builders," said Jane. "Their robes are yellow."
"Their official caste robes," said Mrs. Rawlinson. "Goreans do not always wear their caste's colors."
I had little doubt that the Merchants was the wealthiest caste.
I knew little of how free women were handled. Perhaps much depends on the caste, or city.
Charity, care of the simple, the needy, and such, is handled privately, usually by clan lines, or caste councils.
My Gorean was acute enough, now to detect some differences in accents. The local diction, with its lapses, and grammar, and vulgarities, its rapidities, its simplicities, its contractions, its elisions, unusual words, and vulgarities, was quite other than that of my instructresses, intelligent women who uniformly spoke, as nearly as I could determine, an educated, excellent Gorean. Four had supposedly attained to the "second Knowledge," whatever that was. All could write. I had some difficulty in even understanding the speech about me. I would learn that some members of some castes even reveled in a deliberately barbarous or vulgar Gorean, as though this were some badge of quality or superiority by means of which they might distinguish themselves from their despised "betters." It was sometimes said that the power of Marlenus, the Ubar himself, rested ultimately on the lower castes, whom he cultivated and flattered. Is it not, ultimately, in the mass that the power lies? Who else, at a word, might swarm into the streets, armed with paving stones and clubs? Woe to the former free Gorean woman of high caste who, enslaved, might fall into the power of her hitherto despised "inferiors." Each Gorean caste, interestingly, regards itself as equal to, or superior to, all other castes. Accordingly, each member of each caste is likely to have his caste pride. In some sense this doubtless contributes to social stability, and, surely, it tends to make the average fellow content with his own person, profession, background, antecedents, and such. He respects himself, and these things. Even the Peasants, commonly regarded as the lowest of castes, regards itself proudly, and with justification, as "the ox on which the Home Stone rests." A casteless society, an open society, in which elevation, wealth, and success is supposed to depend, or does depend, on the outcome of merit and free competition will obviously generate an enormous amount of frustration, jealousy, envy, and hostility. In such a society most will fail to fulfill their ambitions and must almost inevitably fall short of achieving at least the greatest rewards and highest honors which such a society has to bestow. In an open race to which all are invited and in which all are free to run there will be only one winner, and many losers. It is natural then for the loser to blame not himself but the course, the starter, the conditions, the judge the rules of the race, even that there is a race, at all.
The free woman of a high caste and the free woman of a lower caste commonly have one thing in common which unites them, securely, as free women. That is their contempt of, and hatred for, the female slave.
Had I been born on Gor and you on Earth, would I not, then, be the Gorean and you the barbarian? It is not our fault if we do not know what you know, your caste customs, your legends, your political arrangements, the histories of your cities, your holidays, your famous generals, musicians, poets, and such.
Women of high caste seldom launder, but women of low caste often do. If a household contains a slave or slaves they will do the laundry, as well as other domestic tasks. Many lower-caste households do not contain slaves. There are two primary reasons for this. Whereas slaves are abundant and cheap it costs to keep them. Most obviously, they must be fed and, to some extent, clothed. Secondly, if the household is small, and a free companion is in the household, she may not care to have a slave on the premises.
Master Grendel, as the Lady Bina apparently was not was well aware of the possible jeopardy in which an unguarded free woman might find herself on Gor. Too, she had no Home Stone, no family, no clan, no caste.
Many Goreans, too, I understood, particularly of the lower castes, had "use names," to conceal their real names, lest their real names, it seemed, might supply ill-wishers with grist for spells and sorceries.
in his holiday regalia that of the Slavers. Often enough, they wear dark robing or tunics, with only a small pair of chevrons visible, one blue, one yellow on the left sleeve of their robe, near the wrist, to indicate their caste. Sometimes they do not identify their caste, as when, say, approaching free women.
"I do not even know the caste of my Master," I said.
"It is what I wish it to be," he said, "a Metal Worker a Forester, a Poet, or Singer, a Cloth Worker, a Peasant, a Scribe, such things."
"I do not understand," I said.
"It is sometimes convenient to be of one caste, sometimes of another."
"It is a disguise," I said.
"Of course," he said. "In some ventures, in some pursuits, it is well to blend in, to attract less attention."
"But Master must have a caste," I said.
"My robes," he said, "were I to wear them, would be white and gold."
"They would indeed stand out," I said.
"What was your caste?" I had been asked.
"I had no caste," I said.
"She is a barbarian, can you not tell?" had said another girl.
"And many of the most beautiful of these," he said, "will kneel to you in Tarncamp, and fear only that you will not find them pleasing."
"Of high caste?" asked a fellow.
"Many," said the newcomer, "for what women, if not of high caste, would be in a position to secure coin and power by serving the enemy, to reveal secrets, to supply information, to corner, manage, and horde goods, to wheedle concessions and arrange clandestine sources of supply and private markets, to profit from the occupation?"
I supposed there would always be such, in any city.
Women of lower caste could do little more than consort with the enemy. From what I had heard there were few of the lower castes on the proscription lists. Perhaps they were less important, or less visible, or would be less readily denounced, being less hated. Or perhaps they had less to offer the enemy, and thus were of less interest to them. Or perhaps they were stronger than their betters, more willing to suffer and wait and endure.
Whereas cities have laws, and most castes have caste codes, there is only one law which is generally respected, and held in common, amongst Gorean municipalities, and that is Merchant Law, largely established and codified at the great Sardar Fairs.
A slave, of course, has no caste.
An inability to read is common amongst the Peasants, and not that uncommon in the lower castes.
"If the slave could read," said Clitus, "she was probably once of high caste."
"Even if she was once of high caste," sniffed Lais, "she is now no more than me, only another slave."
We stopped speaking, for three palanquins, one after the other, with drawn curtains, moved past. They were borne, I noted, not by slaves, but free men who had more the look of mercenaries than bearers. Swords were at their belts. These palanquins, too, were accompanied by armed guards, two to a palanquin.
"Free women," said Thurnock.
Lais shuddered, and shrank down a little.
"Possibly of high caste," said Clitus.
"At least rich," said Thurnock.
"He who defeats himself," I said, "regardless of caste, dishonors his Home Stone, and he who dishonors his Home Stone has no Home Stone."
"Females are the slave sex," said a man. "They are never fulfilled until they are collared."
"Beware of saying that before a free woman, particularly one of high caste," I said.