'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

16 September 2010

Sex and Ancient Egypt

Bowing Egyptian

Creation all begins with masturbation  when the creator  Atum - Ra  'took his phallus in his grasp that he might create orgasm by means of it, and so were born the twins Shu and Tefnut.' Pyramid Text 

Seth's sister- wife Nephthys was barren and disguised as Isis she and Osiris (her brother / brother in law) got drunk and had sex. Jealously Seth murdered and dismembered the body of his brother Osiris and scattered his corpse across the land. 

Isis gathered up the pieces and reassembled the body of Osiris long enough for her to be impregnated by a new erect phallus protruding from the mummy-wrapped body of her husband and their son Horus was born. As he grew he sought revenge for the death of his father. Seth, as the brother of Osiris, sought dominance in the world instead of rulership going to the son of Osiris. He made advances to his nephew Horus in an attempt to humiliate him, proclaiming things such as "How lovely is your bottom." Then Seth said to Horus: "Come, let us have a feast day at my house." and Horus replied: "I will, I will." Now when evening had come, a bed was prepared for them, and they lay down together. Seth let his member become stiff, and he inserted it between the thighs of Horus. However Horus, on his mother's advice, placed his hand between his thighs and caught the semen of Seth in his hand. Horus and Isis then set about impregnating Seth instead, with the semen of Horus. Isis spread powerful unguents on Horus' penis, he ejaculated into a jar, and they spread it on a lettuce. Seth ate the semen-covered lettuce, and thus Horus achieved sexual dominance over his uncle. Seth then asked the gods to bring the semen forth from the 'impregnated' one, to humiliate Osiris' son. The semen came out of Seth instead. The gods laughed. Horus became king of the land and angry Seth was seen as the destroyer,  a good representation of Satan.
The fertility god Min, was depicted as a mummified man with an erect penis, wearing a feathered crown and carrying a flail. Lettuce was his sacred plant, and an aphrodisiac to the ancient Egyptians – the cos lettuce was tall, straight and secreted a milky sap which looked like semen. The blue lotus flower (no longer positively identified) which is a common image given much significance is also considered to have been an aphrodisiac or drug in some way.  Min was a god of fertility and sexuality. He stood with both legs together and the way he holds his flail in a V shape with his upraised forearm thrust inside the V seems to indicate intercourse. Paintings and reliefs don't show his other arm, but statues reveal this hand holding his penis.
Geb the god of earth was recognised for his procreative role. Usually he is shown on his back with an erection pointing towards his wife Nut (the sky). He acted as judge between Horus and his uncle Seth in their battles for supremacy over the earth and chose Horus, although Ra favoured Seth. Geb (earth) and Nut (sky) were said to be always engaged in sex so an outraged Ra had them separated by their father Shu (air).

Circumcision was practiced in Ancient Egypt with one record as far back as over 4,200 years ago mentioning the circumcision of 120 boys in a single ceremony. It appears to have been carried out at puberty and on reaching adolescence the side-lock worn by young male children also disappeared. The rite was called the Sebi and became compulsory for all priests of the temples if not for all youths. It may have been for 'cleanliness' in a hot dusty land as Herodotus said, but it also appeared to have religious and ethnic significance as it differentiated them from foreigners. A religious custom, as we know, also adopted by the Israelites. The Egyptians also shaved their pubic hair, probably at first  as a means of preventing lice but developing as a fashion. Appreciation of physical appearance and the use of beauty aids and techniques have been common in all societies and are reflected in their customs.
Sex was on the mind of the common workers and the ancients were not above gossip, as a graffiti above appears to illustrate Queen Hatshepsut having sex with her chief steward, architect and probable lover, Senenmut. It could be considered political satire, social comment or activism but then again it may just be early porn. In a xenophobic way we tend to reverentially deny the ancients any of the more human traits but are all to willing to accept them as murderers or depraved sacrificers, but it is possible and probable that they simply liked a dirty joke. I am sure humour is not a new invention. Egyptian males had false penises attached to their mummies while Egyptian females were given artificial nipples. They  would thus be able to engage in sex in the afterlife as part of the joys of paradise..
There is a fascinating Tomb of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, perhaps the first evidence of male lovers. The tomb at Saqqara near Memphis shows them holding hands, feasting together, and in their sacrificial chamber they are shown twice in very loving embraces. They were both manicurists for the king Neuserre, and both referred to by the word hm (priest). The walls of the tomb are very elaborately carved with pictures and text, depicting the two men in various scenes. There are few female figures and besides family, 76 of the 97 individuals are men.
Other images such as Ptah embracing King Senwosret display a remarkable intimacy between King and god and the image of Geb and a male sky god are ambiguous at the very least. A huge number of such images exist on the papyrus of Turin. A surviving relic which is illustrated with graphic images of assorted sexual positions, naked eroticism, love, intimacy and even sex aids. To date no one agrees as to the purpose of this papyrus. Social commentary, political satire, a recording of sexuality or just a titillating book? They were known to catalogue everything but they also wrote fiction so why not erotic fiction as well. 
Egyptians were naked to a large extent. The heat and the poverty of the masses limited the amount of clothing owned or desired. Dancers, musicians, soldiers and common workers wore little or nothing. Bear breasts were common for women and children of all classes were mostly naked until puberty. Eunuchs existed, homosexuality existed and sex had little of the stigma that some other and later cultures developed. There was also considerably more equality between the sexes than developed in other societies.

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