Bagoas (courtier)

Bagoas (Old Persian: Bagāvahyā, Ancient Greek: Βαγώας Bagōas) was the name of two eunuchs in the court of the Persian Empire in the 4th century BC.[1][2] Bagoas the Younger was a courtier of Darius[3][4] and later of Alexander the Great.[5]

'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' kissEdit

According to Plutarch,[6] 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.[5]

Fictionalized versionsEdit

  • 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.
  • The Serpent's Oath (2021) by A.R. Valeson portrays a historical fiction romance between King Henry VIII's Master Secretary, Thomas Cromwell and the eunuch, Arthamaeus, inspired by the courtier Bagoas.
  • He makes an even briefer appearance in Les Conquêtes d'Alexandre by Roger Peyrefitte. Peyrefitte, unlike Mary 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 Mary Renault's, except that he is more willing to find a new lover after the death of Alexander the Great.
  • He is played by Francisco Bosch in the Oliver Stone film Alexander (2004), which is based in part on Renault's writings.


  1. ^ Athenaeus of Naucratis (1854). "Chapter 80". The Deipnosophists, or Banquet of the Learned. Vol. XIII. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge. London, United Kingdom: Bohn's Classical Library. LCCN 2002554451. OCLC 49415755 – via Perseus Digital Library.
  2. ^ Rufus 1714, p. 78, Book II, Chapter I.
  3. ^ Rufus 1714, p. 331, Book VI, Chapter V.
  4. ^ Aelianus, Claudius (1670) [1665]. "Chapter XXIII of Alexander". Various Histories (Varia Historia). Vol. III. Translated by Thomas Stanley (2nd ed.). London, United Kingdom: Thomas Basset. pp. 63–99.
  5. ^ a b Rufus 1714, p. 169, Book X, Chapter I.
  6. ^ Plutarch (1865) [1859]. "Life of Alexander". In Clough, Arthur Hugh (ed.). Plutarch's Lives. Vol. IV. Translated by John Dryden (2nd ed.). London, United Kingdom: University College, London. p. 67 – via Wikisource.


External linksEdit