Our next meeting – open to all! This Monday online from 7:30pm. A fascinating lecture with a saucy title!
Roland Enmarch: How beautiful are thy buttocks! Same-sex desire in Ancient Egypt.
Although there is little evidence that the Ancient Egyptians conceptualised human beings as belonging to discrete groups based on their sexual preferences, there is a comparatively rich set of sources that attest the existence of same-sex sexual activity in pharaonic times. These include the realms of Egyptian mythology, where the male gods Horus and Seth are described in many different sources as having sex with each other. Same-sex activity is also mentioned in texts that the Egyptians took to the grave with them such as the Book of the Dead. In Ancient Egyptian literature, King Neferkare scandalously makes nightly visits to the house of his General Sasenet, while the sage Ptahhotep sternly counsels men not to have sex with a ‘womanish boy’ – which rather implies that there must have been a lot of it about.
Egyptian societal ideologies were heteronormative, and being the passive partner in male same-sex activity was specifically denigrated. It is also clear that sometimes man-on-man sex was conceptualised as a form of aggression/ humiliation. Notwithstanding this, there are a number of sources which instead hint at the expression of same-sex sexual desire, and which suggest the possibility of enjoyment from its fulfilment. A good example of this is the world’s oldest surviving chat-up line, which forms part of the title of this lecture.
Free for MAES members (you’ll get an email link). Guests £5 via Eventbrite: