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Societies

Last update: Sunday 15 January 2006

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Chinese Eunuchs

Qing eunuch

"All countries large and small suffer one defect in common: the surrounding of the ruler with unworthy personnel.... Those who would control rulers first discover their secret fears and wishes. “- Han Fei Tzu, revered Chinese minister of state and man of letters, who died 233 B.C.

This essay will briefly explore the general ideas of the eunuch, and then its role in the Chinese history with some mentions of some prominent eunuchs.

A general disclaimer on this topic: discussions of eunuchs center on the times when their activities reached high points or when politics appear to have been distorted by them. They seldom go beyond a fragmentary presentation of factual developments. All officials scribes belong to the scholar-literati class, and they as a whole are wont to write of their own and not their bitter rivals, the eunuchs.