"I wanted to give a voice to eunuchs, both natural (gay) and castrated. I chose the first century for that is the midpoint between the first written record about eunuchs (2100 B.C.) and our century (2100 A.D.). I want to help build a bridge between theologically based values and the anger of the gay liberation movement,” Paul S. Trittin, author
"On May 14, 390 A.D. an imperial decree was posted at the Roman hall of Minerva which criminalized for the first time the romantic and (sic) sexual practice of those whom we call 'homosexual' men -- this had never happened before in the history of law. The prescribed penalty was death by burning. This law was promulgated by an emperor who at the time was under a penance set by St. Ambrose, the bishop of Milan, and the law was issued in the context of a persecution of heresies. Homosexual men at the imperial court had been powerful opponents of Catholic doctrine during the fourth century conflicts over the nature of Jesus Christ, known as the Arian controversies." Mark Brustman, in "The Historic Origins of Church Codemnation of Homosexuality.
Eunuchs have had a rough time. Many had been captured, enslaved, and castrated. Finally, in the ninth century, elite and powerful church leaders actually removed the words “natural eunuch” from the lexicon thereby denying the very existence of a group of men Jesus himself discussed in a positive context with his disciples as an example of men who should not marry. (Matthew 19:12).
The creative ability and physical stamina of these half-men was truly needed for the expansion of the Roman Empire. Why would churches suddenly deny their existence and access to God’s love?
“Why would you want to write JACOBUS, a book about marginalized people who no one likes and who are accused of doing abominal things?" a reader asked.
"That's precisely why I had to write it," Trittin answered. "Everyone has a need and desire for love. Even slaves and eunuchs are not beyond the human cry for intimacy. That's what the book is all about."
I have always been precocious, but being gifted is not my fault. At the age of twelve, my father decided it was time for me to continue my education by preparing for the world of work. This was not uncommon for the life expectancy was only twenty-five to thirty years.
At fourteen he apprenticed me to learn the maritime trade under the guidance of Captain Lucius Paulus. It was on the Dolphin that I learned the art of reconciliation. I lived and slept with eunuchs both natural and castrated, and worked with both slaves as well as free men.
I was born into wealth and I enjoyed the privilege of living in luxurious surroundings. My extended family's maritime trading provided everything my twin and I needed except a mother’s love and a father’s compassion. There were no manuals for raising natural eunuchs so we taught ourselves some things. However, understanding nurses and tutors provided an outstanding academic education.
Syracuse in Sicily may have been the center for the Aetna Shipping company, but Rome was the center of the maritime world. Peaceful Valentia, Spain, exotic Alexandria, and the oriental charm of India each had appeal but it was in the markets of Rome where you found the irresistible good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful. Rome’s seaport was Ostia, but the heart of the city was quickened by business, government, and culture culminating in the thrill and throb of power.
I learned much working on the Dolphin. The dislike of Tectos, a slave, for a free man named Horse exploded into anger in just three weeks when Tectos caught Horse with a stolen tusk. In the fracas that followed, Horse’s foot was injured so extensively that without surgical care his foot had to be amputated to spare his life. Unable to walk he was immediately taken to the center of the seaport city, Syracuse, and left there to beg.
It was Tectos who not only expressed concern for Horse, but he was the one who went to the city center every day with food and water for the one the crew and come to despise. What motivated compassion in this eunuch? How does compassion relate and lead to reconciliation?
Alexandria, Egypt, was the largest and most beautiful seaport ever built, but is was the reconciliation that occurred there that gave us such fond memories. Rabbi Sadhu and his wife, Rahelani, had come from India to approve or reject the deal I had brokered with their son, Yacobsa, a natural eunuch like me. Because he was ‘different,’ he was alienated from his parents. Years earlier they had sent him away to a Persian rabbinical school to study the Torah but really to dissuade his interest in men.
The proposed contract exceeded their expectations. The sincere high praise I heaped on their son and learning that I was also a Jew who worshipped the same creator God was sufficient to seal the deal. They not only approved the arrangements, but they accepted our invitation to travel with us to Jerusalem for Passover.
When I was a young man, King Shikrit of Panyan gave me a baby elephant. It was impossible to take the animal back to Syracuse from India so he arranged for Jaya to care for the gift. To travel between Shikrit's palace and a neighboring king, our journey was on the backs of elephants as they formed a caravan going up the river to his palace.
In retirement forty years later, my life-long friend, Hanno, and Jaya traveled with me and my elephant to Alexandria. We stopped in Jerusalem to mourn its destruction by the Romans.
Hanno and Mago, Carthaginian slaves
Museums and castles in Europe, Russia, or Africa are on his first choice list of things to do. However, Biblical Archeology Review and similar periodicals are tolerable substitutes for the man who cut his teeth on the Columbia Encyclopedia in junior high. Nothing historical is off-limits for him.
This was a set design for a Christmas musical, The Gift, which he wrote and produced for a large church in Kansas City. It was typical of the detail he has given to all his creative endeavors.
He was the first non-Flemish artist invited to show in a contemporary Flemish Art Exhibit in Belgium. Trittin was also commissioned to do four paintings of Native Americans for the Bank of America office in London.
Trittin was one of four founders of Global University, a unique concept for reaching third-world seminary students in the seventies. He worked with authors from every continent and for sixteen years coordinated the publication of religious books and Bibles in five languages.
Finally, he succumbed to the call to tell the story of 4200 years of sexual misunderstanding, political intrigue, maritime expansion, and the birth of Christianity. Jacobus, A Eunuch's Faith, is an important read of historical fiction relating sexuality and faith without sermons or religious jargon.