A women who had children was seen to be more fortunate than ones without. Taking after Isis , the mother goddess of Horus, Egyptian women strove to be intelligent, wise, mystical and mothers. Where her twin sister Nephthys was barren, Isis was fertile. In the Egyptian community, men had to prove their masculinity by fathering children, while the women had to be able to bear these sons and daughters. Being a mother meant being able to keep her marriage secure and to gain a better position in society.
But an Egyptian family was not just a status symbol - the Egyptians loved their children and were not afraid to show it.
But there were some advice to parents, written by scribes: Do not prefer one of your children above the others; after all, you never know which one of them will be kind to you.
Women of Ancient Egypt, p. In the Tale of Two Brothers, the adulterous wife was found out, murdered and her body was thrown to the dogs. Unmarried women, on the other hand, seem to be free to choose partners as they so desire, and enjoy their love life to its fullest. Itinerant Performers and 'Prostitutes' Photo taken with kind permission of the Petrie Museum , London The Egyptian sacred 'prostitute' who was probably a highly regarded as a member of Egyptian society because of her association with different gods or goddesses such as Bes and Hathor , rather than the street walker that the modern mind imagines advertised herself through her clothing and make up.
Some of these women wore blue faience beaded fish-net dresses. They painted their lips red, and tattooed themselves on the breasts or thighs and even went around totally nude. There is no evidence that these women were paid for these fertility-related acts, so some believe that word 'prostitute' is probably an incorrect term for these women.
In fact, the Victorian era theory that these women were prostitutes is not backed up by evidence at all. All archaeological evidence for women with such tattoos shows them to have been New Kingdom female musicians or dancers.
Another idea pointed out to me by Daniel Kolos , an Egyptologist academically trained at the University of Toronto, is that this premarital sexual activity might be a prerequisite for marriage.
One of the theories that disassociates these women from being prostitutes, is that their sexual activity could be part of a "coming-of-age ritual", just as circumcision was one for males. With Egypt's heavy emphasis on fertility as the defining nature of a man or a woman, this idea is a highly likely probability. Other theories could be that the young virgin girls joined itinerant performing groups - dancers, singers and the like - and during their time with these groups they experienced their first sexual encounters.
If a girl became pregnant, she would probably leave the troupe to head home to her family with proof of her fertility. Motherhood was venerated, giving a woman a much higher status in society, so pregnancy was something to be proud of in ancient Egypt.
These travelling groups of women were strongly linked with midwifery and childbirth-related deities. The goddesses Isis, Nephthys, Meskhenet and Heqet disguised themselves as itinerant performers, travelling with the god Khnum as their porter.
Carrying the sistrum and menat instruments - instruments with sexual overtones - they showed it to Rawoser, the expectant father. Knowing that his wife, Raddjedet , was having a very difficult labour, he told these women - the disguised goddesses - about his wife's troubles, and at their offer of help, he let them in to see her.
These women do not seem to be pay-for-sex prostitutes, instead they seem to be a link with the divine, a helper of expectant mothers and singers, dancers and musicians.
This is not to say that there were no pay-for-sex prostitutes in ancient Egypt, it it just that there is little evidence of this found. Considering Egypt's very different image of sexuality, the modern concept of both sexuality and prostitution do not fit this ancient society. Women operated under a totally different cultural imperative than women today, thus ancient Egyptian sexuality must be looked at without modern prejudices.
It seems that these female performers, these 'prostitutes', were treated with courtesy and respect, and there seemed to be a well established link between these travelling performers and fertility, childbirth, religion and magic. They had both contraceptives and abortions, mostly these were prescriptions that were filled with unpleasant ingredients such as crocodile dung.
Here is one of the nicer ones: Prescription to make a woman cease to become pregnant for one, two or three years: Grind together finely a measure of acacia dates with some honey. Moisten seed-wool with the mixture and insert it in the vagina. Ebers Medical Papyrus -- Tyldesley, J. There were probably some brother and sister marriages, but more likely than not, the siblings in question would have been half-brothers and half-sisters.
The problem arises from the limited Egyptian terms of kinship, which are very confusing. A 'father' could refer to the actual father, the grandfather or male ancestors, while 'mother' could be the same, but for the females of the family.
One theory is that the royal blood ran through the females, not the males, and so to become pharaoh a man had to marry a royal princess who would be his sister or half-sister. This is known as the Heiress Princess theory, which is now largely discredited. Another explanation for these marriages is that: The prevalence of brother-sister marriages within the New Kingdom royal family, a custom in obvious contrast to contemporary non-royal marriage patterns, appears to have been an attempt to reinforce the links between the royal family and the gods who themselves frequently indulged in brother-sister unions.
Ra in the form of Atem masturbated his children Shu and Tefnut into existence! Atem is he who masturbated in Iunu On, Heliopolis. He took his phallus in his grasp that he might create orgasm by means of it, and so were born the twins Shu and Tefnut. Realising that they'd gone too far, the others sent Baba away, but still Ra refused to stop sulking.
Finally, Hathor decided on a plan. She went into Ra's presence and stood before him and started to dance and strip, revealing her nakedness and lewdly showing him her private parts. The dance caused Ra to laugh, forget his hurt feelings and he once again rejoined the gods. Ra grew angry with his grandchildren, and commanded their father Shu to separate the two lovers. The god of the air took his place, and trampled on the ithyphallic Geb, and lifted Nut high into the air.
Nut was found to be pregnant, and was then cursed by Ra - she would never be able to bear her children on any month of the day year. Thoth managed to win a game against Khonsu, god of the moon, and used some of the light of the moon to create five extra days making the year days. Nephthys and Osiris Some tales of sex and the Egyptian gods is on the seamier side - one of the reasons given as to why Set and Osiris hate each other was because of Nephthys, Set's sister-wife.
She was barren she represented the desert, as did Set , and she hit on the plan of disguising herself as Isis and seducing Osiris. Getting Osiris drunk, Nephthys took Osiris to her bed, and the two had drunken sex together.
Osiris dropped his garland of melilot flowers in the act of passion. Set found the adulterous goddess and the flowers, and knowing who the flowers belonged to, he began to plan Osiris' death. The child of this union was thought to be Anubis , god of mummification. Now as the overflowings of the Nile are sometimes very great, and extend to the boundaries of the land, this gave rise to the story of the secret intercourse between Osiris and Nephthys, as the natural consequence of so great an inundation would be the springing up of plants in those parts of the country which were formerly barren.
These parts Set spread all over Egypt. Isis, Nephthys and Anubis searched Egypt, and managed to retrieve all of the pieces of the body, except one - Osiris' phallus. Set had dropped the penis into the Nile making it fertile , where it was eaten by a fish.
The god and goddesses pieced Osiris together and created the first mummy. Using her magic, Isis fashioned a replacement for Osiris' missing part, either out of clay, wood or gold, and attached this to her dead husband's body. Through magical spells, life was breathed back into Osiris' body though some dispute this and believe that Osiris was dead at the time The goddess managed to share a time of passion with her husband who impregnating her with their child, Horus.
Osiris then passed into the afterlife, becoming god of the dead. This part of the mythos borders on necrophillia! Horus and Set Then Set said to Horus: At night, Set let his member become stiff, and he inserted it between the thighs of Horus.
And Horus placed his hand between his thighs and caught the semen of Set. In one part of the myth, Set proclaimed to Horus, "How lovely your backside is". Informing his mother Isis about his uncle's ardour, Horus is told to catch Set's semen rather than becoming impregnated by the murderer of his father. Set, in doing so, was planning on humiliating Horus by showing the gods that Horus would be filled with someone else's semen. Horus and Isis's next plan was to 'impregnate' Set with Horus' semen.
His mother spreads powerful unguents on Horus' penis, after which he ejaculated into a jar, and they spread it on some lettuce, a favourite aphrodisiac to the ancient Egyptians. Set then ate the semen-covered lettuce, and so Horus rather than Set with his first 'attack' bacame sexually dominant over his uncle.
Set then asked the gods to bring the semen forth from the 'impregnated' one, to humiliate Osiris' son. The semen comes out of Set himself, and he becomes the laughing stock of the gods! However, the Pyramid Texts offer another point of view: Horus has penetrated Seth's anus with his seed. Seth has penetrated Horus' anus with his seed. It is possible, then, for the words to have both the connotations of cowardice in retreat and feminine sexual activity.
The desire of sexual penetration is therefore the defining feature of Seth and Horus' homosexuality. Because Seth desires the young Horus, he is seen as evil; Horus resists the penetration, and therefore avoids social stigma. However, in later texts like The Book of the Dead, it becomes not the desire, but instead the act itself which defines the Egyptian as a social pariah.
Readings from the Book of the Dead suggest that by Egypt's New Kingdom BCE , the stigma had shifted to include the action of homosexual penetration, rather than solely the desire for the act. Absent from the Egyptian consciousness, however, seemed to be the convention of any firm and defined sexuality. Modern conventions of homo- or heterosexual were absent because there was no affiliation for sexuality beyond the sex acts themselves.
The term 'homosexuality,' is a modern concept that presupposes sexual classification; a psychophysical division of beings into categories based upon distinct assumptions regarding the sexual preferences of said individual, whether these are sexual acts, desires or pleasures It must also be noted that since sexuality was not utilised as a defining mechanism, that any modern preconceptions of 'homosexual' attitudes and behaviours must not be projected upon the ancient evidence. Representational evidence for ancient sexualities is ambiguous.
Recognising and identifying an artefact as exemplifying 'homosexuality,' as opposed to simply recognising 'homosexual' desires, must be certain. The verb nk, to have penetrative sex carries no connotations, however, nkw, a man on whom penetrative sex is performed is likened with sexual abuse, and carries with it negative overtones of submission. This response to the passive role of penetrative sex is one that is recurrent throughout the ancient and classical periods, with even Julius Caesar falling victim to ridicule after submitting to Nicomedes in 46BCE.