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Created On 25 February 2001
Last Updated On 25 February 2001
Copyright © 2001 Simon E. Phipp

Wives, Concubines and Harlots

I have read elsewhere that the Uleria cult is disliked by the wife cults of Glorantha, such as Dendara or Ernalda. The rationale for this is that wives are jealous of the worshippers of Uleria and treat them as home wreckers. However, I disagree with this generalization as the way that wives treat others is a very cultural thing and does change from culture to culture.

What I will try to do here is to quickly sketch out what I think the attitudes would be in certain cultures. Mainly these will be the Solar culture of Dara Happa and the Orlanthi culture of the Theyalans but if I can think of how this affects other cultures then I will add those later.

Dara Happa

This culture is dominated by the Yelm - Dendara marriage model although there are other models such as the Yelm - Ernalda and Yelmalio - Ernalda models.

In the Yelm - Dendara model the husband takes a wife for status, companionship and to produce an heir. Sex is frowned upon in the Dara Happan culture as they are extremely prudish and conservative so they treat sex as something that is necessary in order to produce children. Those who enjoy sex are treated as deviants or people of loose morality. Not surprisingly this causes its own share of problems.

Dendara wives know that their husbands may want to take concubines. This may be for several reasons - the husband may wish a second or third marriage for political status or to cement two noble houses; the husband may wish to take a concubine from a defeated house to shame that house; the husband may be ritually obliged to take his wife's sisters as concubines; the husband may have defeated an enemy in battle and needs to take his wives as concubines; the husband may have gained a concubine through HeroQuests.

There is also another reason why men take concubines - lust or love. This is seen as shameful in Dara Happan eyes but is tacitly acknowledged to be fairly common. There is a story of Spemus the Selfish who maintained that he loved his wife so much that he would never cleave to another and never took concubines. It is said that he coupled with his wife every other day or sometimes every day and that she wasted away under this onslaught and shame until she died. His brother, Spetus the Wise loved his wife so much that he took many concubines and rotated them equally so that he only visited her for coupling once every fortnight or so. She was healthy and lived to an old age, not shamed by her husband's attentions.

Similarly, those men who are of low status and cannot afford concubines will visit the Uleria Temple to perform ritual obligations and to purify them so that they do not make excessive demands on their wives. Most Dendarans welcome this as it means they do not need to submit to the animalistic demands of their spouses.

Those who follow the Yelm - Ernalda model know that Ernalda was a concubine and that being a concubine is a natural state of affairs. The concubines of a Yelmite are not jealous of each other but do have a certain amount of professional rivalry and do tend to jockey for position. However, they do not see others as threats and also welcome the visits of their husbands to the Uleria Temple as a welcome respite.

Those Yelmalians who follow the Yelmalio - Ernalda model do not take concubines. However they do worship at the Uleria Temple in order to reduce their appetites and take the pressure off their wives. However, both husband and wife treats this as a ritual obligation, the husband does not take as much pleasure out of it as the Yelmite might and the wife treats it as something that he must do rather than a relief. Yelmalians are somewhat more sexually repressed than normal Yelmites and tend to ignore sexual matters until they rear their ugly heads.

Bachelors in both Yelmite and Yelmalian areas visit the Uleria Temple in order to protect other women from their lusts. They know that sex is a dangerous matter and should be performed only within the bounds of marriage, at certain times, in certain places and in certain ways otherwise it can grow in an uncontrolled manner. However, they also know that Uleria also knows the rituals to quench the ardour within the Uleria Temples without awakening the sleeping monster. Given a choice between the Uleria Temple and shaming themselves with a single or even a married woman, most will choose the Uleria Temple.

The only times that a Dara Happan wife is jealous of other women is when the husband has a relationship with a woman who is not a concubine and outside of a Uleria Temple. This is seen as shameful and dangerous as unprotected sex, sex that happens outside the ritually protected marriage bed and outside a Uleria Temple, can awaken the sleeping monster and turn the man into a bestial animal. Such things are considered dangerous enough to warrant a divorce as the wife does not want to be contaminated by the husband's evil lusts.

The Lodrili

Those peasants who worship Lodril and his pantheon have a more relaxed view on these matters. Lodril was a lusty god who took many wives, concubines and lovers. As he is a major role model, his worshippers also take wives, concubines and lovers. The Yelmites think that the peasants are immoral and are bathing in a sea of iniquity. The wives of the Lodrili see nothing wrong with this and often take lovers or second husbands themselves. The Uleria cult is not seen as a threat, merely as something that is necessary at certain times.

The Orlanthi

Orlanthi normally follow the Orlanth - Ernalda model, although some follow minor deities. Orlanthi generally take one wife but are allowed to take concubines, especially amongst the Hill Barbarians, as Orlanth himself took concubines. Here, the Ernalda wives do not look kindly on concubines and treat them as rivals for their affections. Sexual matters are far less repressed than amongst the Yelmites and many Ernalda wives feel jealous when their husbands are with other women as they feel that they can take care of their husbands without the help of other women. Many say that Ernalda left Yelm's Court because she was jealous of the other concubines and married Orlanth because he promised to be with only her.

The one exception to this is when wives or husbands are ritually obligated to take lovers or concubines, perhaps as part of a HeroQuest or ceremony. This is accepted behaviour and is seen as a religious duty, not one of the heart.

Orlanthi husbands rarely enter the Uleria Temples as their wives are more accommodating than those of Yelmites. Even bachelor Orlanthi do not use the Uleria Temples as much as their Yelmite counterparts, simply because pre-marriage sex is not frowned upon as in Yemlic cultures.


Orlanthi in Esrolia are treated as one of many husbands. Polyandry is common as is polygamy. Many also take lovers when allowed to by law and custom. Sex here is treated as a gift from the goddesses and is enjoyed to the full. There are few Uleria Temples here as they are not needed. Even where they are used the wives do not complain as they understand the needs of their husbands.


The Pentian Nomads follow a form of the Yelmic Tradition, but in a greatly modified way. The men take many wives and concubines and enjoy sexual relationships with the wives and concubines. Wives do not treat concubines as rivals as they know that a stallion will mount many mares in his herd. They even tolerate extra-marital relationships as long as those relationships are casual. Any extra-marital relationship that is long term is normally turned into marriage with the husband gaining a new concubine. A man can steal a wife or concubine from another and turn her into his own concubine, but having an affair with another man's wife or concubine is not allowed and is punishable by death.

Pentians have harlots who belong to certain cults but these are not normally Ulerian. These women serve the bachelors and also have ritual significance. Married men rarely ever consort with these as they are treated as taboo.

Any Pentian may take slave girls and have sex with them. These women are not treated as wives or concubines but the relationships are recognized as being normal. Wives and concubines are often raided between clans and are treated as new concubines. Sometimes young women are stolen from neighbouring clans and taken as wives or concubines and this is normal practice.