Bagoas (courtier)

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'Bagoas pleads on behalf of Nabarzanes', by Master of the Jardin de vertueuse consolation and assistant (Flemish, active 3rd quarter of 15th century). (1450 - 1475)

Bagoas (Old Persian: 𐎲𐎦𐎡 Bagoi, Ancient Greek: Βαγώας Bagōas) was a eunuch in the court of the Persian Empire in the 4th Century BC. Bagoas was a eunuch exceptional in beauty and a lover of Darius[1] and later of Alexander the Great.[2]

Bagoas' kiss[edit]

According to Plutarch,[3] Bagoas won a dancing contest after the Macedonian crossing of the Gedrosian Desert. The Macedonian troops, with whom Bagoas was very popular, demanded that king Alexander should kiss Bagoas, and he did so. Athenaeus tells that King Alexander also was madly devoted to boys. Dicaearchus, at any rate, in his book On the Sacrifice at Ilium, says that he was so overcome with love for the eunuch Bagoas that, in full view of the entire theatre, he, bending over, caressed Bagoas fondly, and when the audience clapped and shouted in applause, he, nothing loath, again bent over and kissed him deeply.[4]

Fictionalized versions[edit]

  • Bagoas is the narrator and title character of The Persian Boy, the historical novel by Mary Renault, which portrays him sympathetically. He reappears in a smaller but still significant role in the sequel Funeral Games.
  • He makes an even briefer appearance in Les Conquêtes d'Alexandre by Roger Peyrefitte. Peyrefitte, unlike Renault, has Bagoas riding to battle by the side of Darius.
  • He is also a major character in Jo Graham's novel Stealing Fire, part of her Numinous World series. Graham's Bagoas is basically the same as Renault's, except that he is more willing to find a new lover after the death of Alexander.
  • He is played by Francisco Bosch in the Oliver Stone film Alexander (2004), which is based in part on Renault's writings.[5]


  1. ^ ...with whom Darius was intimate and with whom Alexander would later be intimate... "Quintus Curtius Rufus"(BOOK VI. 5.23)
  2. ^ ...the Eunuch Bagoas, who by now had gained Alexander's affection through putting his body at his services[26]...Alexander's strong attachment to Bagoas. "The History of Alexander" by Quintus Curtius Rufus
  3. ^ Alexander, 67
  4. ^ Athenaeus: Deipnosophists, Book XIII
  5. ^ Bagoas at the Internet Movie Database


External links[edit]