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'Homosexual' Desire and Middle Kingdom Literature

R. B. Parkinson
The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
Vol. 81 (1995), pp. 57-76
DOI: 10.2307/3821808
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3821808
Page Count: 20
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'Homosexual' Desire and Middle Kingdom Literature
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Abstract

Sexual activity is a constant feature of human society, but sexuality has to be studied as a distinct cultural construct. It is articulated in texts and other cultural artefacts. Extant references to sexual acts between men in Middle Kingdom texts are few. In religious and commemorative texts such acts were presented as aggressive, but literary works accommodated a recognition of 'homosexual' desire. Two conclusions are suggested from this: that sexual relationships between men were considered irregular by the literate elite, and that the decorum of official texts differed from that of literary (fictional) texts. Three works in particular are discussed: the Teaching of Ptahhotep, the Tale of Horus and Seth, and the Tale of Neferkare and Sasenet.

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