27 Mar 2006
What's so great about eunuchs?
Thousands of boys were mutilated to satisfy 18th-century Europe's obsession with castrati singers. Meurig Bowen on a terrible trade
[Guardian, 27 March 2006]
Two and a half centuries ago, as he travelled through Italy, the French writer Charles de Brosses found his eye drawn to some of the men. Most, he noted, "become big and fat like capons, their mouths, their rumps, arms, breasts and neck rounded and chubby like women. When you meet them in a gathering you are completely taken aback on hearing these colossal men speak with a tiny, childlike voice."