At least one Roman emperor was castrated.

Roman eunuchs may have been the equivalent of modern-day transsexuals--but with far more acceptance in Roman society. The practice of castration was common and actually enhanced career prospects for those interested in civil service employment.

Early Technique

Roman castration techniques could be described--at best--as crude. Followers of the Asian goddess Cybele enjoyed castrating themselves in public. “And, when the mood took them, produced a jagged piece of broken pottery, sliced off their genitals and flung them through the window of an unsuspecting Roman household," note Peter James and Nick Thorpe in their book “Ancient Inventions.”

More Advanced Method

James and Thorpe also describe the working of a more advanced Roman castration tool. Two arms, originally hinged and closed by a screw nut, formed an oval ring, accompanied by the serrated teeth of two longer arms. The penis was kept out of harm's way by insertion through the oval, while the teeth sliced away the skin between the scrotum and the body.

Religious Connotation

Roman bronze figurines dating to between 100 and 200 A.D. have been discovered, showcasing an Asian goddess or priestess proudly holding castration tools. The tools included clamps for strangulating the testicles.