"This is a great city,"
said Cabot, "and yet it is not loved. How many are
there here who would die for this city? How many who would
defend to the death its perimeters? How many who would submit
to torture on its behalf?"
"You're drunk," I said, smiling.
"This city is not loved," he said. "Or it
would not be used as it is, kept as it is."
---Outlaw of Gor, 1:14-15
As another section
of this guide touches on the various tribal cultures found
within the Chronicles of the Counter Earth, this particular
section has been developed with a focus on the city-state
society. Although many elements do apply to general social
standards and can be found in one form or another in most
Gorean societies, please note that some of the elements
found here are unique to the city-state caste based system.
city-state," said my father, speaking to me late 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."
---Tarnsman of Gor, 3:42
Gorean society, be it that
of tribal cultures or the intricacies of the caste system of high
civilizations, remains essentially founded on many principles which
place collective welfare and survival of groups before individual
Though clearly the tribal
cultures of harsher areas of Gor would demonstrate this in more
obvious fashion, and regard city folks as rather spoilt and selfish,
this assertion is not entirely true. Cities breathe and live as
per Gorean belief; cities are loved, they have hearts and spirits.
Indeed the Gorean often speaks of the city as if it were a person,
a being. And in the same fashion, so too does it speak of the land
this way, and of all living breathing creatures.
Gorean senses, or believes, that a city cannot be simply
identified with its material elements, which undergo their
transformations even as do the cells of a human body.
them a city is almost a living thing, or more than a living
thing. It is an entity with a history, as stones and rivers
do not have history; it is an entity with a tradition, a
heritage, customs, practices, character, intentions, hopes.
When a Gorean says, for example, that he is of Ar, or Ko-ro-ba,
he is doing a great deal more than informing you of his
place of residence.
The Goreans, generally, though there are exceptions, particularly
the Caste of Initiates, do not believe in immortality. Accordingly,
to be of a city is, in a sense, to have been a part
of something less perishable than oneself, something divine
in the sense of undying. Of course, as every Gorean knows,
cities too are mortal, for cities can be destroyed as well
as men. And this perhaps makes them love their cities the
more, for they know that their city, like themselves, is
subject to mortal termination.
---Outlaw of Gor, 2:22
The line between man and
his environment holds little to no level of control beyond that
of simple survival, and then, always in a rapport which commands
With this in mind,
Gorean high civilizations have distributed roles in order
to ensure that the group survives. Government, the caste
system, the institution of slavery, the place of women in
free companionship as well as the various laws which surround
each and every Home Stone--core of the Gorean city--all
tend toward protecting and ensuring that the community survives,
thrives and perpetuates .
The Gorean believes in harmony
between all that lives as well as balance in the application of
the survival of the fittest laws. He respects all men and
all creatures other than men as having their role in the delicate
equilibrium of life. The Gorean warrior holds his enemy in
utmost respect; the hunter applies himself to learn the ways of
the animals he hunts because he acknowledges their skill at fleeing
him. In all that surrounds him, the Gorean finds beauty, value
This concept of purpose is
perhaps most obvious in the way we note how caste often defines
the way one or the other man thinks and behaves. Castes are not
simply a matter of trade or function on Gor; they have a strong
influence on behavior and mind set. It is 'as a peasant', that the
peasant will consider all things, by the teachings of his caste
codes, by the importance of those things which matter to a peasant.
It will be different from the way a Scribe or a Warrior will see
the same issue and indeed it should, as caste codes often determine
one's rights. There are many allowances and laws pertaining to certain
behaviors which rely entirely on caste rights. If one behaves according
to the codes of his caste, there is no dishonor, even if the behavior
goes against laws and rules.
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.
---Tarnsman of Gor, 3:45-46
The application of
justice, in cities, is then often left to caste codes and
caste councils, and Gorean laws take into consideration
that matters of codes can hardly be subject to unilateral
For example, killing
a man after issuing proper challenge and defeating him would
not be considered a legal crime in most cases, if the man
is of the Caste of Warriors. It may be acceptable however,
that the killer end up being taken care of by the dead man's
sword brothers, again, within the rules which apply to Warriors.
This is by no means easy to grasp and often leaves the reader
puzzled by the way a number of things are depicted.
The treatment of
criminals will also often reflect this 'code vs law' attitude.
Honorable punishment or death will be afforded to those
who commit 'legal' crimes without breaking the rules of
their codes, and perhaps oddly, the Warrior, for example,
will be as concerned with how he is punished or put to death
as much and sometimes more than with the fact that he will
be punished or even die.
done, young warrior," acclaimed Marlenus. "I thought
I would see if you would die like a slave." He addressed
his men, pointing to me. "What say you?" he laughed.
"Has this warrior not earned his right to the tarn
---Tarnsman of Gor, 14:158
The treatment of women, too,
is largely related to birthright, legal status and as for all Gorean
individuals, purpose. Women, even free women, are often viewed as
marketable and used in the political games of alliances and war
as trade items. The concepts of bride prices and arranged companionships
demonstrate well the fragile state of women's freedom, even without
bride price would be a hundred tarns."
whistled softly to myself--my ex-slave would have come high.
On a Warrior's allowance I would not have been able to afford
---Tarnsman of Gor, 5:71
Although more commonly cities
on Gor are led by an administrator and a council which represents
the five high castes, circumstances and the needs of a community
will often determine the position of each caste within it and it
will then be this particular caste which will have the most influence
and control over city laws. A good example of this is the prevalence
of merchant laws in areas for which trade is a means of survival,
or the way we find entire communities of Peasants, where the village
politics and rules of conduct are dictated by the codes of this
caste. Similarly, in times of war, city leadership is handed over
to a Ubar, the Gorean word for 'war chief'. In this type of government,
the Caste of Warriors will become most important.
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
---Tarnsman of Gor, 3:42
The reader will find that
despite what appears to be a rather strict structure, circumstances
and individuals play a large part in how the rules are applied.
The consistency is the presence of these rules and codes and in
the fact that they 'will' be respected; the 'how' is often what
differs, based on culture, circumstances and the codes of both the
offending and the offended party.
As confusing as this
might be to us who muddle through these concepts, the Gorean
seems rather at ease with its laws, both written and unwritten,
and is seldom found arguing the validity of their application,
one way or the other.
have been refused bread, and fire and salt," I said
She nodded. "Yes," she said. She looked at me,
bewildered. "Hup told me yesterday it would be so."
I looked at Hup.
"But why has this been done to me?" I asked. "It
seems unworthy of the hand of a Ubar."
"Have you forgotten," asked he, "the law
of the Home Stone?"
"Better surely banishment than torture and impalement."
"I do not understand," said Elizabeth.
"In the year 10,110, more than eight years ago, a tarnsman
of Ko-ro-ba purloined the Home Stone of the city."
"It was I," I told Elizabeth.
She shuddered, for she knew the penalties that might attach
to such a deed.
"As Ubar," said Hup, "it would ill become
Marlenus to betray the law of the Home Stone of Ar."
"But he gave no explanation," I protested.
"An Ubar gives no accounting," said Hup.
"We fought together," said I, "back to back.
I helped him to regain his throne. I was once the companion
of his daughter."
"I say because I know him," said Hup, "though
I might die from the saying of it, Marlenus is grieved.
He is much grieved. But he is Ubar. He is Ubar. More than
man, more than Marlenus, he is Ubar of my city, of Ar itself."
I looked at him.
"Would you," asked Hup, "betray the Home
Stone of Ko-ro-ba?"
My hand leaped to the hilt of my sword.
Hup smiled. "Then," said he, "do not think
Marlenus, whatever the price or cost, his grief, his dream,
would betray that of Ar."
"I understand," I said.
"If a Ubar does not respect the law of the Home Stone,
what man shall?"
---Assassin of Gor, 24:406-407