“From the periods of my observations among the Eunuchs of Egypt, which revealed to me the importance of internal secretions of the interstitial glands. I was haunted by the idea of gaining control of this wonder power source…” Doctor Voronoff, quoted in The TransGender Studies Reader here.
Voronoff is really a very important person,” says Copeman, “one of the greats of endocrinology and surgery. He was Russian, and he started his work with goats and sheep in Russia. When the Great War broke out he served as a surgeon on the Russian front, but the war in Russia didn’t last too long, and so he transferred to the Western front where the English and the French casualties were terrible. What he had failed to do in Russia he wanted to succeed with on the Western front – saving the arms and legs using bone to replace bone, either from cadavers or animals.”
In the Middle East the eunuch was castrated for practical reasons, and served in positions where only castrated men were allowed.
The eunuchs were either guards and servants in harems or chamberlains to kings. These were the original positions for the eunuchs, but many succeeded in climbing in social status, and could reach positions like bodyguards, confidential advisers, ministers, even generals and admirals. Many of the advisers under the Ottoman Empire were eunuchs.
The reasons to castrate men entering such positions, are rather obvious: For the eunuchs working in the harems, there was a need for men who could not make the women pregnant. Another reason was that many thought that the eunuch’s personality was more favourable for important positions. From LookLex Lexicoriant Encyclopedia
WIKIPedia places the Eunuch in a historical perspective here.
Pharaonic Egypt~this form of sexual mutilation had been mentioned in a number of Pharaonic texts, providing confirmation that the Egyptians were familiar with the three surgical modes of performing this operation: amputation of the penis alone, removal of the testicular apparatus, and total emasculation. For the sake of truth, we are bound to admit that all the references that we made to support this thesis came either from the religious tradition, from the domain of fable, or from the subject of mutilation of cadavers for military or funerary purposes…
Eunuchs and Castrati: The process for creating a eunuch remained relatively unchanged. The boy or man was strapped spread-eagled to a table. A thin cord was knotted tightly around his genitals, and, with a sharp razor, the organs were amputated. The wound was then cauterised by the application of either a red-hot poker or molten tar. He was deprived of water for several days to prevent urination, which could cause infection. Then he was forced to drink enormous amounts of water, until the pressure in his bladder punctured a hole in the layers of scar tissue. The fatality rate was as high as 90 %. Chinese eunuchs often also had their penis as well as there testicles, completely “shaved off”, which was considered more effective. Using only hot chilli sauce as a local anaesthetic, the Chinese operation was one swoop, using a small, curved knife…The Baptismal of an Ethiopian Eunuch by St. Peter
In Egyptian creation stories the first god is the male and female Atum who divides and creates Shu and Tefnut who in turn produce Geb and Nut. Finally they produce two pairs, Isis, the reproductive female, and Osiris, the reproductive male, and also Seth, the nonreproductive eunuch (who represented the dry desert), and Nephthys, the unmarried virgin who did not associate with men. Seth followed after Osiris and eventually murdered him and then had sex with Osiris’ son Horus who catches Seth’s ejaculation in his hand and brings the semen to Isis who sprinkles it on a lettuce, which Seth eats. They appear before the judges to determine primacy among the gods. Seth tells the judges to call to the semen and to his surprise, the semen responds from his own belly. Seth is disgraced and Horus assumes the role as prime archetypal being. Pottery from Thebes from 2000-1800 BCE, contain a listing of three genders of humanity: males, eunuchs, and females.
The Sydney Morning Herald: While previously working as the Khedive Surgeon-General in Egypt, Voronoff had noticed the premature senility and early death rate in eunuchs of the harem, and concluded that aging was the result of a slowing down of endocrinal secretions, particularly sexual hormones. Voronoff believed that testicles not only had a genital function, but also acted on skeletal, muscular, nervous and psychological development. His experience as a surgeon during the Great War had armed him with a knowledge of grafting and transplanting techniques, and he performed many experimental allogeneic and xenogeneic testes grafts in goats, sheep and bulls, the results convincing him of the efficacy of this temporary rejuvenating procedure. By the 1920s, in his laboratory at the College de France, Voronoff was running clinical trials in which he inserted slices of chimpanzee testes into the tunica vaginalis in aged men.