The Cultures of Gorean Civilization ...
As noted above, Gorean culture is much
less technologically oriented than Terran society. While the
Cylinder Cities of Known Gor – called this because their
principle architectural form is large round buildings not
unlike Chicago’s Marina Towers – have a fairly sophisticated
technological knowledge, because of the Weapons and
Technology Laws (see above) they seem what a modern Terran
would consider primitive at first glance. However, like
Terran cities, they are organized around the principles of
common defense (Gorean cities are always walled, for good
reason,) economic interaction, and social activity. A
citizen of Rome at the Empire’s height would not feel out of
place in Ar, Gor’s largest city, although he would be amazed
at the general health of the citizenry and the cleanliness
of the streets.
As most of the Chronicles take place
either in the Cylinder Cities, or in areas such as the basin
of the Vosk River which are strongly influenced by them,
they will be discussed first and in the most detail. The
reader should be aware that when someone refers to how
things are done "on Gor" they usually mean in the Cylinder
Cities. Exceptions to almost every cultural practice can be
found somewhere on Gor in some other culture and this should
not be taken to mean that the Chronicles are inconsistent
(although at times they are) but rather that Gor is a very
complex world, not unlike our own.
One practice common to all Gorean
cultures, without exception, is chattel slavery. This will
be addressed in depth in the section on Gorean Slavery, but
will be mentioned wherever appropriate.
*All Credit for many of
the articles in this section are given
Copy write 2002.
Most Goreans speak the same language, which they
simply call the Language, or Gorean. It is an
extremely complicated language, similar to the
Romance languages but with English’s habit of
absorbing useful words from other languages. A
person who spoke Latin and Greek could probably make
themselves understood in Gorean with some effort.
Goreans of Known Gor often refer to "barbarians."
This includes Terrans, such as slave girls captured
and brought to Gor, and many people think that that
is what it means. Actually it refers simply to
people who do not speak Gorean or who are not native
speakers of it. A Red Savage who could not speak
Gorean would also be referred to as a "barbarian"
just as a Terran girl would.
Other languages do exist on Gor
in other cultures, but many members of those
cultures also speak Gorean so that they may trade
knowledge and goods with others. The Sardar Fairs
(see below) do much to encourage the widespread
dissemination of Gorean and its uniformity over most
of the planet.
of the most interesting was the Translator, which
could be set for various languages. Whereas there
was a ma n common tongue on Gor, with apparently
several related dialects or sublanguages, some of
the Gorean languages bore in sound little
resemblance to anything I had heard before, at least
as languages; they resembled rather the cries of
birds and the growls of animals; they were sounds I
knew could not have been produced by a human throat.
Although the machines could be set for various
languages, one term of the translation symmetry, at
least in the machines I saw, was always Gorean. If I
set the machine to, say, Language A and spoke Gorean
into it, it would, after a faction of a second, emit
a succession of noises, which was the translation of
my Gorean sentences into A. On the other hand, a new
succession of noises in A would be received by the
machine and emitted as a message in Gorean. My
father, to my delight, had taped one of these
translation devices with English, and accordingly it
was a most useful tool in working out equivalent
phrases. Also, of course, he and Torm worked
intensively with me. The machine, however,
particularly to Torm's relief, allowed me to
practice on my own. These translation machines are a
marvel of miniaturization, each of them, about the
size of a portable typewriter, being programmed for
four non-Gorean languages. The translations, of
course, are rather Literal, and the vocabulary is
limited to recognitions of only about 25,000
equivalencies for each language.
~ p.39, Tarnsman of Gor
The Sardar Fairs
The Sardar Mountains have a narrow
pass by which one may enter the range and try to
reach the Priest-Kings. No one who has done so has
ever returned. (Animals will not enter the Sardar
and tarns will not overfly it.) However, at the base
of that pass is a large area of neutral territory
where the Sardar Fairs are held four times a year at
the equinoxes and solstices. The individual fairs
are known as "The Fair of" the month they are held:
collectively they are the Sardar Fairs. These are
huge gatherings for social, cultural, and economic
interchange. The fairs are safe territory: no one
may be slain or enslaved at the Fair, although
slaves may be bought and sold. The various Castes
exchange information at the Fairs, news of Gor is
muchly traded, and varied goods from the far corners
of the planet are interchanged.
Also at the base
of the pass is a sort of shrine to the Priest-Kings.
Every citizen of Known Gor, and many other cultures
of Gor as well, is expected to make a pilgrimage to
the Sardar before their twenty-first year to salute
the Priest-Kings. While richer people can afford
guards, the common folk must take their chances –
and the approaches to the Fairs are not safe
territory. Many women who meant to make an honorable
pledge to the Priest-Kings have ended up seeing the
Sardar from a slaver’s wagon. This encourages the
mixing of bloodlines and slave stock from all over
the planet and is also a primary, if little-known,
purpose of the Fairs and the Sardar pilgrimage.
First & Second Knowledge
element of Gorean culture is the Two Knowledges. The
First Knowledge is held generally by the Lower
Castes. It holds such pre-technological references
as believing that the world is flat, that names have
magic power, and so forth. It is a simple worldview
for simpler members of society.
Knowledge, held by all of High Caste, is not exactly
a secret, but is taken much more seriously by those
of High Caste. It includes the knowledge that the
world is in fact round, and that most superstitions
are just that, superstition. Interestingly, it also
includes the knowledge of the existence of Earth. As
all Gorean humans are of Earth origin, it is not
unlikely that this has simply been passed down
through the High Castes, especially the Scribes. Not
all members of the High Castes necessarily believe
the Second Knowledge to be true, but they are all
exposed to it.
First & Second Knowledge
The word "Gor" translates literally to "Home Stone."
Home Stones are central to the culture of Known Gor.
A Home Stone is just that, a rock. Typically, each
man will have his own Home Stone, a rock kept in his
home to show that it is his place and that he claims
it as his own. While Terrans think of borders from
the outside in, Goreans think of them from the
inside out, with the center being the Home Stone of
a city. Citizens of a city swear allegiance to its
Home Stone, not to individual rulers or ruling
bodies, typically in a ceremony on reaching
adulthood. Home Stones are very dear to Goreans: a
man who speaks of Home Stones should stand, as
matters of honor are at stake. A conqueror may
destroy the Home Stone of a city, which in essence
destroys the city, but while the Home Stone survives
and is uncaptured, its city lives and fights. A meek
and mild man is a larl in the place of his Home
Stone, and a man defending his Home Stone is not to
be trifled with even by a Warrior.
It is a common
practice in some online circles to refer to a Home
Stone as a place, as in "Let us return to the Home
Stone," or "You are welcome in my Home Stone." This
is categorically incorrect. A Home Stone is a rock,
not a place. Persons from the same city might refer
to themselves as "sharing a Home Stone," and this
does indicate some minimal social bonding, but they
do not refer to their City as a Home Stone. A person
would not say "Ar is my Home Stone," but rather "my
Home Stone is that of Ar." The reverence for the two
is somewhat interchangeable: while a citizen of Ar
might speak negatively of the rulers of his city, he
will always express profound reverence for "Glorious
Ar" herself, and a man who insults his city, insults
The bonding of the
Home Stone, while profound, is very nebulous: for
instance, merchants will try to get dear prices from
customers whether or not they share a Home Stone.
However, persons who do not share a Home
Stone will be naturally suspicious of each other:
the Gorean word for "stranger" is the same as the
word for "enemy." Goreans are not irrationally
xenophobic: they are aware that there are friendly
strangers and familiar enemies. The sharing of a
Home Stone basically entitles a person to the
benefit of the doubt, whereas persons who do not
share the Home Stone have a higher burden of proof
to show that they are not hostile or otherwise
The definition of
"outlaw," on Gor, is "one who has no Home Stone." As
this implies it is a very serious matter indeed not
to have a Home Stone. Only outlaws and slaves have
no Home Stone. Note that not all Gorean cultures
have the institution of the Home Stone.
Wagon People / Turians
In the Southern Hemisphere of Gor lie a large plain
similar to the Great Plains of North America or the
Steppes of Asia. Huge bands of nomads known as the
Wagon People herd a form of cattle known as bosk
through these plains. The Wagon People are divided
into four tribes, who war amongst themselves but
will band together against outsiders or Turians if
the need is great enough. The Wagon People, like all
Goreans, acknowledge the power of Priest-Kings but
believe that the Sky is the creator-figure of the
In the center of the Plains of
the Wagon People lies Turia, the "Ar of the South."
A great walled city, Turia trades finished goods and
slaves with the Wagon People in exchange for meat
and other products. While a great deal of animosity
exists between Turians and Wagon people, the two
societies are extremely interdependent. Women of the
Wagon People, free and slave alike, wear golden nose
rings, and these are often seen in slaves from the
region. Also the main alternative to the flat slave
collar originated in Turia, the round rod collars
often referred to as "Turian Collars."
More information on these people
may be found in Book Four, Nomads of Gor.
Rencers / Port Kar
The Rencers live in the delta swamps surrounding the
city of Port Kar. They harvest a papyrus-like reed
called the Rence which makes a fine paper, cloth,
and other materials. They live on huge floating
islands made of woven Rence. Historically the
Rencers have been very vulnerable to the
depredations of Port Kar slavers, but recently they
have taken up the Peasant Bow and become a much more
The City of Port
Kar, "Scourge of Gleaming Thassa," is a city of
pirates and slavers. Until recently, the city had no
Home Stone, although lately it has become much more
civilized as a result of the adoption of a Home
Stone. Port Kar merchant-pirates trade goods all
over Gor and control much of the wealth and shipping
of the planet.
on these people may be found in Book Six, Raiders
The Torvaldslanders live in the North
of Gor. They are very similar to medieval Vikings,
even following a modified version of the Norse
Pantheon, while acknowledging the power of the
Priest-Kings. In Torvaldsland female slaves are
called bond-maids and male slaves are called
thralls, both Norse terms. They know more about
Kurii than most Goreans, as planet-bound Kurii can
be found in Torvaldsland.
on these people can be found in Book Nine,
Marauders of Gor.
In the Tahari
Desert live several groups of nomads similar to the
Bedouin of Earth. They live around oases in small
enclaves or herd animals through the desert from
place to place. Much of Gor’s salt comes from mines
in the Tahari, notably the mines of Klima, and great
wealth is to be found there. Natives of the Tahari
are one of the few people on Gor who do not use the
short sword: Tahari raiders use curved scimitars
from kaiilaback just like Arabian raiders on Earth.
on these people can be found in Book Ten,
Tribesmen of Gor.
The Red Hunters live in the polar regions of Gor’s
Northern Hemisphere. They are extremely similar to
the Inuit of North America, although they are not as
isolated since they can walk to areas controlled by
the Cylinder Cities and some of them make the Sardar
Pilgrimage. Like the Inuit, they are friendly – much
more so than most Goreans – and subsist mainly on
food from the sea, notably whales and sea sleen.
They also physically resemble the Inuit, being
short, black-haired, and stout, with coppery skin.
They are very joyous people, singing many songs and
making many jokes. They believe that the spirit
lives on after death and that it may move from
animal to man and back again. They are also familiar
with Kurii as the Kurii can be found in their
More information on these people
can be found in Book Twelve, Beasts of Gor.
The Red Savages live on a large area of plains and
hills. They are extremely similar to the
pre-Columbian North American Aborigines and tend to
share their physical features and culture. They do
not like "white" Goreans such as are found in the
Cylinder Cities and usually kill or enslave them if
they find them in their territory. One tribe of the
Red Savages has mastered the tarn: the rest ride
kaiila. (Recently other tribes have begun adopting
the tarn as well.)
More information on these people
can be found in Books Seventeen and Eighteen,
Savages of Gor and Blood Brothers of Gor.
The Planet Gor
Gor, which means "Home Stone" in Gorean, the language of
Gor, is an Earthlike planet which orbits the sun at
approximately the same distance as Earth. It is held in
this orbit by the technology of its rulers, the alien
Priest-Kings, who have complete control over the
phenomenon Terrans refer to as gravity. It is always
exactly opposite the Earth from the sun. This fact gives
Gor its other name, used only by those who know of the
existence of both: "The Counter-Earth." Because the Sun
always lies directly between Earth and Gor, Terran
science has not detected it. The Priest-Kings presumably
use their technology to counter the gravitational
fluctuations in the Solar System which would otherwise
Chronicles of Counter-Earth, which in the books are
distributed on Earth as works of fiction for unknown
purposes, presumably by agents of the Priest-Kings, are
written with a few exceptions by a man called Tarl
Cabot. Cabot was born in England: he never knew his
father and his mother died when he was young. He was
raised by a maiden aunt. Cabot attended Oxford and got a
job teaching English literature at a small liberal arts
college in New England after graduation. After teaching
for a brief period at a small college in the United
States, he went on a camping trip in the White Mountains
of New Hampshire. While there, he was abducted by the
Priest-Kings, who have interplanetary flight
capabilities and in fact are the owners of the famous
"flying saucers." Thus began his involvement in the
affairs of Gor and the Priest-Kings. Many times
throughout the series, Cabot has served as a sort of
independent mercenary on behalf of the Priest-Kings in
their struggles with their ancient enemies, the Kurii.
Kurii, an anthropoid space faring race, wish to capture
Gor and Earth to replace their own planet, which they
destroyed in internecine warfare. Currently, the Kurii
operate in large artificial planetoids outside the orbit
of Jupiter: the Priest-Kings do not molest them as long
as they stay outside that orbit. For sixteen thousand
years the Priest-Kings have fought the Kurii, protecting
Gor and Earth from them. The Kurii are large, furred
carnivores, extremely vicious, with technology far in
advance of Terran science, but yet no match for the
Priest-Kings. Many of Earth’s legendary monsters,
including Grendel, the Sasquatch, and the Yeti, were in
fact shipwrecked Kurii who were trapped on Earth when
their ships were destroyed by Priest-King patrols. Kurii
are also found on Gor, shipwrecked in the same manner,
and have formed isolated outposts in the far North.
(They cannot stand a hot climate and are extremely
sensitive to pollution, which is why they are not found
in any number on Earth.) The Priest-Kings do not molest
Kurii on the surface of Gor save to enforce the Weapons
and Technology Laws on them just as on humans.
Therefore, a Kur who does not break the laws is safe on
Gor from Priest-Kings… but not from humans, who hate
them and kill them whenever they can. This is a very
justified attitude, as Kurii are extremely arrogant and
look on all other animals, including man, as food, and
not too bright food at that.
of the other books in the series are written from the
point of view of women who are captured on Earth by
agents of the Kurii and taken to Gor to be sold as
slaves. (These are Captive, Slave Girl,
Kajira, Dancer, and Witness.) They
make excellent introductions for the new reader as the
culture and society of Gor are explained in great detail
as the women are introduced to it. There is also a
self-contained trilogy, known as the Jason Marshall
books, within the series. (These are #14 Fighting
Slave, #15 Rogue, and #16 Guardsman.)
They tell the story of Jason Marshall, a Terran man who
was captured incident to the capture of his would-be
girlfriend, and taken to Gor to be sold as a slave.
itself is much like Earth: it has one large landmass and
several smaller ones. It has slightly lower gravity than
Earth’s, but whether this is because it is smaller or
because of some action of the Priest-Kings is not known.
The Priest-Kings, an insectoid alien race, brought Gor
to this solar system more than a million years ago,
presumably because its original sun was no longer
suitable. The Priest-Kings, who cannot tolerate long
exposure to sunlight, live in what they call the Nest, a
fabulous underground complex in the Sardar Mountains. ("Sardar"
is the Gorean word for Priest-King.) These are centrally
located on Gor’s main landmass. Interestingly, Gorean
compasses point to the Sardar, and Goreans mark
direction not by North and South but by "towards the
Sardar" and "away from the Sardar." It is not known
whether other colonies of Priest-Kings exist, or whether
they are native to Gor.
inhabited by a large human population brought to Gor by
the Priest-Kings, who are an extremely inquisitive race.
They find human beings fascinating and study them
constantly much as a Terran biologist would study lower
animals. While there are many cultures on Gor, most of
them correspond to one or more of the societies from
which the Priest-Kings brought them. For instance, the
Cylinder Cities of known Gor are similar to Roman/Greek
City-states, there are nomadic desert tribesmen similar
to the Bedouins, and polar natives very like the Inuit.
cultures are much less homogenous than Terran society is
and will remain that way because of the Weapons and
Technology Laws of the Priest-Kings. While the Goreans
know nothing of the nature of Priest-Kings, they do know
the nature of the Weapons and Technology Laws, which
have been communicated to them through agents of the
Priest-Kings over the centuries until they have attained
the status of everyday knowledge. The Weapons and
Technology Laws which are set forth specifically in the
Metal armor is not allowed except for helmets and
small shields (bucklers.)
Chemical explosives of any kind are forbidden.
Long-distance communication (any form of
communication which can extend beyond line-of-sight)
is forbidden. Messengers are allowed but they must
physically move from place to place. (Thanks to
, information and goods can still move fairly
quickly if necessary.) Long-distance detection
equipment, such as radar or sonar, is also
forbidden. Telescopes, known as "glasses of the
Builders," are allowed.
Mechanized transport of any kind is forbidden.
also strongly implied in the books that large-scale
environmental degradation, such as slash and burn
agriculture, is against the rules. Violation of the
Weapons and Technology laws brings the Flame Death. When
the Priest-Kings observe a violation through their
surveillance system, they cause a beam of energy to be
transmitted into the culprit, who literally explodes in
a flash of bright blue flame.
Priest-Kings have three objectives in enforcing these
They prevent mankind from evolving to the point
where they could challenge the rule of Priest-Kings.
The Priest-Kings are not an aggressive species but
they will defend themselves, violently if necessary.
Rather than risk eventual conflict, they simply keep
humans at a level where they cannot constitute a
They prevent damage to the environment of Gor, which
is their home.
They encourage what the Priest-Kings see as
desirable natural selection in humankind. Since
metal armor is not allowed, for instance, fast and
intelligent warriors are at the advantage over slow
stupid ones, even if they do not have as much
capital. If richer but otherwise inferior fighters
could equip themselves with armor, it would have a
negative effect on the population.
by-product of these rules is that cultures do not mix
much on Gor and they tend to be much more individual.
Cultural change is slower and the pace of life more
leisurely. However, whatever is not forbidden is
allowed, and the Goreans have made some impressive
technological advances. In a way, they owe this to the
Weapons and Technology laws, because the energies that
Terran civilizations have put into armaments and other
areas which Goreans cannot explore, have gone into
most dramatic example of this is the Stabilization
Serums. The Physicians of Gor see what Terrans call
aging as an illness- they call it "the wasting disease."
They have developed what they call the Stabilization
Serums, which prevent deterioration of cellular
replacement activity. In other words, once the Serums
have taken effect, the person no longer ages. The Serums
provide no other benefits – persons who do not take care
of their bodies can be and are corpulent, unhealthy, and
subject to death from any number of other causes. Nor do
persons who have had the Serums have any unnatural
resistance to disease or injury. Because the main focus
of Gorean medicine for centuries was development of the
Serums, lesser illnesses were not studied as hard by
Gorean Physicians. Therefore, people subject to them
were quite likely to die of them, with the result that
the population of Gor is highly resistant to disease.
Plagues are known but are very rare: epidemics are
almost unheard of. The Physicians of Gor have diagnostic
and therapeutic technologies equal or superior to those
of modern Terran doctors.
Serums are not equally effective in all persons: they
can fail to work, wear off, or even occasionally trigger
what Terrans call Methuselah Syndrome – ultra-rapid
aging. However, they are generally safe and effective
and all Goreans who need them take them if they feel age
setting in. The effect of the Serums is transmitted to
children of inoculated parents and so many Goreans do
not need them at all. They are viewed as a universal
human right and anyone who asks a Physician for them may
receive them, even a slave or a barbarian.
Gorean technologies include the Energy Bulb, an
electrochemical light source, controllable, which uses
no external power source and lasts for years, and the
Translator, a small device which can translate between
languages instantaneously. Goreans also have what
Terrans call "cattle prods," electrical goads. These are
found as "tarn goads," which produce a set charge, and
"slave goads," which are controllable. These items are
extremely expensive, very rare, and are never used as
than the above instances, one can assume that a Gorean
society will have the technological capabilities of its
Earthly counterpart, be it the Roman Empire or the Zulu
Empire. There is trade and communication between the
various cities and cultures and so technologies which
are useful across cultures will eventually wend their
way wherever they may be used.
Gor is very like Earth in its basic nature, but most of
Gor’s fauna are either native to Gor or are Priest-King
imports. In particular, the predators of Gor are very
large and powerful, much more dangerous than Terran
Species of Interest on Gor
Tarns. Tarns are large flighted predatory birds,
similar to the Rocs of legend. In Gor’s lighter
gravity they can be ridden by one or more people.
Various breeds exist which are used for racing, war,
and transport. People who take care of domestic
tarns are called Tarn Keepers, whereas those who
ride them are Tarnsmen. Though not all Tarnsmen are
Warriors (and not all Warriors are Tarnsmen) all
Tarnsmen are extremely brave men. Tarns know who is
a Tarnsman and who is not, and they will
unhesitatingly kill and devour anyone who tries to
ride them who does not have the stuff of a Tarnsman.
(Female tarn-riders are almost unheard of: most
females and many males are terrified by tarns.) Wild
tarns are also common and are extremely dangerous,
coming in a variety of sizes and plumages depending
on their habitat.
Tharlarion. Tharlarion are a genus of reptilian
animals. They are found in all shapes and sizes,
from tiny water tharlarion no bigger than a man’s
hand to draft tharlarion which can pull huge wagons.
There are also ul, or winged tharlarion, similar to
the prehistoric Terran pterodactyl. Riding
tharlarion are bipedal (think of someone riding a
very large velociraptor) but all domesticated
tharlarion are herbivores. Wild tharlarion may be
herbivorous or carnivorous and are likewise
Urts. Urts are Gorean rodents. Like Terran rodents,
they come in all sizes, from mouse and rat sized to
large enough to carry a man in their jaws. They are
generally omnivorous. Domesticated urts exist but
are not common. Urts have horns which extend over
their eyes and meet tusks growing from the jaw,
giving them a very ferocious appearance.
Sleen. Sleen are large mammalian predators, very
intelligent, and Gor’s greatest trackers. They can
follow trails which a Terran bloodhound wouldn’t
even notice, weeks old. They have six clawed legs
and are phenomenal jumpers. Sleen can be
domesticated and come in a range of sizes, from
cat-sized to somewhat larger than a Terran tiger.
There are also polar sleen and aquatic sea sleen.
Larls. Larls are huge feline predators, twice as big
or more as a Terran lion, and Gor’s most dangerous
land animal. Larls cannot be domesticated.
Bosk. Bosk are herd animals, very similar in
appearance to Terran longhorn cattle, but larger.
Kaiila. Kaiila are somewhat like the Terran alpaca
or llama, but larger, and carnivorous. They can be
ridden and are likewise found in a variety of
Tabuk. Tabuk are single-horned antelope, varying in
size from two to five feet at the shoulder. They are
the preferred prey of tarns and the command "tabuk!"
means "hunt" to a domesticated tarn.
Verr. Verr are mountain sheep, raised for meat,
milk, and wool.
Vulos. Vulos are domesticated pigeons raised for
meat and eggs.
Nest there exist an unknown number of non-human,
non-Priest-King life forms, some of which may be
sentient. On the surface of Gor, there exists a race
known as the Spider People, a large arachnidian
life-form, which is sentient and can communicate with
humans using special Translators. They are very isolated
and rarely interact with humans. There is also a race
known as the "urt people," who exist symbiotically with
a species of large urt found in herds like capybara.
They are generally humanoid and may simply be a subrace
of homo sapiens. Other than shipwrecked Kurii, these are
the only known sentient inhabitants of Gor other than
humans and Priest-Kings.
Most of the
Gorean approach to life can be observed in the
"Do not ask how
to live; rather, proceed to do so."
Goreans do not
see life as a mystery to be solved, but as a
reality to be experienced. They enjoy what they
can and endure what they must. They do not rely
overmuch on what they would see as the crutch of
religion, but treat the unknown and unknowable
with a matter-of-fact and direct approach.
Goreans are very
concerned with honor, both in the context of the
Codes and in general. However, the fundamental
tenet of Gorean philosophy is not honor, but
honesty. Self-honesty. This manifests itself
most often in the idea that most men are
masters, and most women are slaves, and they
should not heed the urgings of a sick society to
lie to themselves about the thing. Well and
good. But if what you are, at heart, is a
Scribe, it's silly to play at being a Warrior.
If what you are at heart is a thief, then be a
thief, and don't claim a bad childhood and
economic repression drove you to it. (But see
below about consequences.)
One result of
this is that Goreans rarely lie. Even evil ones.
They do a lot of misleading, wearing costumes
and masks, not correcting misapprehensions or
even going out of their way to create
misapprehensions, and so forth, but even such
anti-luminaries such as Pa-Kur or Kliomenes
rarely tell outright untruths. It almost seems
that lying is worse than killing or stealing to
the average Gorean. ("On the other hand, I do
not recommend lying to Goreans. They do not like
it." – from Tarnsman of Gor)
If the basic
tenet of Gorean philosophy being honesty, this
makes sense. If your core belief is that people
should be free, even jails for convicted
wrongdoers seem immoral. (See Valentine Michael
Smith's action regarding the jails in
Stranger in a Strange Land.) If your core
belief is that life is sacred, the tendency is
to make even necessary killing seem somehow bad.
(How many Americans think that meat comes from
the supermarket?) If your core belief is, as it
seems to be on Gor, that denying your own truth
is evil, even the lies of others, or to others,
take on a more negative connotation.
A related aspect
of this is the method of dealing with
consequences. Those persons who find
consequences visited upon them on Gor don't
waste a lot of time railing against their fates.
Of course, Gor is a harsher world than Earth, so
part of that is probably also simply that they
know it won't do any good. But Goreans, while
not generally superstitious, also almost seem to
have an underlying belief in "destiny." This can
be seen in the Caste system, which comforts them
and prevents the sort of economic malaise and
desperation we see in Western culture. It can be
seen even in the behavior of Tarl and his
various companions-in-chains when enslaved. Even
in the mines of Tharna and Klima, there was
little railing against the vagaries of fate.
If one believes
that one has acted in accordance with one's
nature, and with self-honesty, then for the most
part, one can have confidence that what happens
to one is in accordance with one's nature.
Generally speaking, the best route to
having what happens to one be in accordance with
one's nature is that rigorous self-honesty. No
matter how true you are to yourself, if you live
in a city that falls in a war, you run the risk
of having something awful happen to you. But
that's a different question. This concept of "I
will get what I deserve, not because I am
entitled, but because that is what I deserve,"
would go a long way towards explaining why most
Goreans are generally content with their lot,
and most Westerners are not.
Once you get the
idea that anything besides your own fundamental
nature should be considered in determining what
you should "get," be it material possessions or
treatment by others, you enter a spiral of
entitlement and greed which ends in the modern
welfare state, crushing consumerism, and
widespread feelings of failure and lack of
self-worth we see in modern Western society.
Cabot once described the difference between
Goreans and Terrans as that Goreans live in a
society where people know their places, and are
generally content in them, whereas Terrans live
in a society where all are expected to succeed,
and most must fail. Even when a man changes
Caste, he doesn't do so because his Peasant
parents decided they wanted a Physician son, or
he decided that the prospects for women and
money were better for a Scribe than a Leather
Worker, but because he knows that his talents
and interests lie in a different direction.
and counter-intuitive result of this belief is
that while Goreans are less likely to bewail
their fates, they are also less likely to be
resigned to them. If a person honestly and truly
believes that they are worthwhile, and that
eventually people get what they deserve, they
will be unlikely to accept a temporary setback,
even a radical one such as imprisonment, as
their lot in life. In the unbelievably harsh
mines of Tharna, and Klima, men still believed
that they could be free if only they could find
it within themselves to be so. This is similar
to Heinlein’s famous quote "You cannot enslave a
free man: the most you can do is kill him."
Honor is not a
bad thing. The more honorably everyone behaves,
the better society works. However, one cannot
say that a person is not Gorean because they act
without honor, nor that if a person is Gorean,
he is honorable. A Gorean thief might walk up to
you and grandly proclaim the classic, "Stand and
deliver: Your money, or your life!" He might
even take your money and then kill you anyway.
But you simply would not see Gorean Scribes
taking the work of others and claiming it as
their own. Or Metal Workers taking the result of
others' labor and proclaiming it to be their own
skill which had produced the fine result.
That is purely unGorean, not because it is
dishonorable, which it most surely is, not
because it is stealing, which it most surely is,
but because it is a lie. Lies are
unGorean. Whether told by Society or the
individual, whether by design or by custom,
untruth cannot long bewilder those who adhere to
Gorean philosophy. As Shakespeare said:
"To thine own
self be true: it then follows as the night from
day that thou canst not be false to any man."