Ancient Egyptian Virgin Mother Myth

Was it Homosexuality in the 18th Dynasty Egypt, or a culture of male-dominated, hierarchical sexual penetration that gave rise to the myth of the Virgin Mother?

A conversation between Bob, Vikki and Daniel on Amarna Reunion in early July, 2002:

Amenhotep the Magnificent is the only pharaoh to have himself portrayed in female attire. Cyryl Aldred in an issue of the Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Feb 1957), reproduced such a sculpture and described it thus: "Amenophis (Amenhotep) III in his old age wearing a type of gown usually worn by women."Tiy, who took more royal prerogatives and power in her hands than any royal wife to the throne before or after her (Hatshepsut actually was Pharaoh) was married to a king who was interested in "Greek love" as well as taking his own daughter to his harem.

This, of course, is only conjecture.  However, in another tale of Woe, Oedipus, we find that Laius carries off to the palace a young Chrysippus and thus brings a curse upon himself, his wife and his progeny. If "Greek love" was indeed natural to Greeks then why is Oedipus cursed. The answer is that Oedipus isn't taking place in the Greek Thebes but in the Egyptian Thebes where "Greek love" is an unnatural urge. This is one of the coincidences used as argument in Velikovsky's "Oedipus and Akhnaton".

King Burraburias, the only monarch of the period who dared to speak to the pharaoh as a superior to an inferior, wrote to Akhnaton:  "For the mistress of thy house I have sent only twenty seal rings of beautiful lapis lazuli because she had not done anything for me that I requested, she did not lift up my head when I was sorrowful". "The mistress" here referred to has been taken to have been Tiy, the queen mother who, in this case, which is an exception to the general rule in Egypt, played a great role" (Mercer, The Tell el Amarna Tablets, note to letter 11).  The words "Mistress of thy house" meaning his mother, Tiy, signify that the knowlege of the new relationship had reached the palaces of foreign countries.

There were ties to the Mitannians throughout the eighteenth dynasty. Thutmose IV was married to a Mitanian, Amenhotep III also took a Mitanian princess to his harem named Gilukhipa. Tadukhipa was also sent to Amenhotep but he apparently died and she became part of Amenhotep IV's harem.

In an earlier post by Hal, who is a poster here about the myth of Oedipus (brilliantly orchestrated), I was sent a big red link called Incest in Egypt. It showed that incest had occurred in the fourth dynasty and it didn't reoccur till the eighteenth. Leaving out Ahmose and Kamose who married their own sisters, Thutmose IV, Amenhotep, and Akhnaton were all influenced by the culture of the Mitanians and their associations with the princesses in their harems. The Mitanians were probably from northern Syria or near Iran and the religious practices of that Indo-Iranian group had a different attitude toward incest than any other people of that era, including the Egyptians. They swore by Mitra,Varuna, Indra and other Indo-Iranian gods. They had an ethical religious concept and practice of xvaetvadatha or xvetokdas, which means, according to ancient authors and modern scholars alike, the marriage of parents with their children and of uterine brothers and sisters. "Corpsebearers may be purified not only with the urine of cattle (sacred cow), but also with the urine of a man and a woman who have performed xvaetvadatha ." (Article, "Marriage" (Iranian) in Vol.VIII of the Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics. Ed. J. Hastings)

"These Maji, by ancestral custom, consort even with their mothers. Such are the customs of the Parsians" (Strabo xv 3 20) E.A. Wallis Budge, a learned Egyptologist of the earlier part of the twentieth century, compared the language of Akhnatons's hymns to that of the Vedas and traced the origin of the idea of picturing the sun with rays ending in hands to the long golden arms of the Vedic sun god Surya.  If the handed rays are tracable to Mitanni, we have further proof that Mitannian or Indo-Iranian concepts made their way into the palace of Thebes. The sacredness of incestuous relations was one of these concepts. As Akhnaton leads his mother and Bekaetaten, their child, in the bass reliefs, to their shades in the temple of Akhet-Aton, he had it written "The king's daughter of his body". His appelation "Living in truth" might have been him coming out in the open about his relationship, knowing it was abhorant to the other Egyptians but, as pharaoh, changing the world.

I don't think there is any proof in reality but much commentary and speculation about this pivotal pharaoh. I personally find it difficult to read on line and digest the fine points. This posting probably isn't the right pace to argue the opinions of so many Egyptologist but I would urge you to check out the edges of the book world. It is in the book burning section of your library with Ahmed Osman, Velikovsky, Sigmond Freud, and in the novels of Pauline Gedge ("The Twelth Transforming"), and Allen Drury. As for the web...William Theaux under the pseudonym Zenon Kelper used to have a site that expounded the theories of Akhnaton being Moses being Hermes Trimegistus .... It was www.dnafoundation.com  However it has changed and I am not sure what exactly happened. There are links to his synopsis there and links to Charles Pope. www.domainofman.com  I can't recommend either places but... maybe Daniel has some news ....

Though all this is written in stone, none of the opinions are written in stone.  I ascribe to the romantic and tragic versions. This is only the tip of an iceberg. Even the most conservative writers and Egyptologist disagree about this controversial subject. We don't really know if Nefertiti was Akhnaton's sister or how young Amenhotep's boyfriends were or if he had little boyfriends. The question about Smenhkare and Akhnaton having funny scenes might be of another era as well as the question of Nefertiti actually being Smenhkare. Why form an opinion that would block further investigation till the videotapes are made public.  Right now I am reading a fun book called "Saucer" by Steven Coonts.  It is about the discovery of a flying saucer that is apparently 140,000 years old. Have fun...

Bob

Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 5:25 AM
Subject: Re: [amarnareunion] Re: AII did what!?.. Everything they could get away with.......
 

Hi Daniel & Zoot...

Daniel quotes Nicholas Reeves:
"For all her power, Tiye appears not to have interfered with Amenophis III's evident fondness for female flesh (we know nothing of his taste, if any, in men)- "

Zoot writes:  "I don't think there is any proof in reality but much commentary and speculation about this pivotal pharaoh .

"Certainly not enough to go to court with! I will consider it a deplorable rumor until 'real evidence' (or a video) is presented. And cross dressing or kinky acts doesn't count for much more than sexual expression and fantasy."

I understand the purpose of having young girls taking part in such rituals as described by Daniel (what a page turner... the "Horemheb" novel by Daniel is on my Amarna heart list... (www.horemheb.com) not sure of the nature of my feelings, but there's just something about him! You're making me rethink my rule about forming my own feelings or conclusions before reading the established authors...!!), as well as our newest member Ami...HI :} Although young, they were prepared from birth about this important role... which didn't make it any less uncomfortable or nerve wracking, but great care was taken that they understand the purpose of the rite.

Frankly, the 'young girl' ritual hasn't changed much...what's the newest controversy...12 yr old silk bra's & panties!?? Tomorrow I will attend the J.P. wedding of a 15 yr old very pregnant young lady...the age factor doesn't seem to have changed much either. I'd like to think that at least during the Amarna era (which includes AIII, for me anyway) the women and girls were considered special & sacred...goddesses in their own right. That the girls were young??... What was the age expectancy...40?

Zoot, your argument about Tye's influence sounds interesting, but what proof that AIII allowed or participated in such rites with little boys on Egyptian soil? Also...if he was so swayed then wouldn't 'this King in particular' have just declared it as so!! He did with everything else...including marring Tye. And again I ask...by what right could it be justified in Ma'at? What god allows this under Egyptian law? And if Akh also believed this to be the way to go...then I have no doubt...he of all people would of left lots of visuals!!! After all who was going to stop him? Amun??

Whew...for a minute there I thought AIII was in serious trouble. Your right Daniel...I won't be upset :}

Thanks for the comments...

Ma'at
Vikki

Original Message -----
From: Daniel M. Kolos
To: amarnareunion@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2002 11:36 AM
Subject: Re: [amarnareunion] Re: AII did what!?..
 

Vikki and Bob (Zoot),

When I visited Chicago two years ago for the Pharaohs of the Sun exhibit at the Art Institute, I saw that particular full sized statue of AIII where he is wearing a 'nightgown'! But that particular gown is not at all unusual, having been used for the Heb-Sed (Rejuvenation) ceremony for hundreds if not thousands of years. This is what the catalog entry says about this statue:

"One of a pair, depicts Amenhotep III in a tight sleeveless cloak on the occasion of his third heb-sed (Jubilee festival), a ceremony of rejuvenation, two years before his death. His health had so deteriorated by then that the Babylonian king sent him a statue of the goddess Ishtar, famous for her healing powers. The weakening Amenhotep needed a drastic remedy to re-create himself.

"Viewed in profile, his clasped hands create a protuberance in the pubic area: he is Min, god of fertility. With his abdomen distended like that of a pregnant woman, he is also Taweret, patroness of fecundity and birth, a counterpart necessary for all creation. Embodying both figures, the king can create himself by himself: he has certainly anticipated the vision of his son Akhenaten.

"The head shows the same disappointed, bitter expression seen on images of his wife: two heads of Tiye, one from Sinai and one from the Fayum, are thought to date from the third heb-sed or later. We are far from the satisfied, mysterious smile of Amenhotep III's early reign evident (in an earlier statue)." Pharaohs of the Sun (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1999) p.204

This article, anyway, is the scholarly opinion and certainly does not hint at any homosexual activity from their point of view. That, in itself, does not negate Bob's view, and the fact that adult pedophilia (sexual play with young boys) originates from the Middle East.

I am rather surprised that neither of you, Vikki or Bob, referred to the homosexual ruse that Seth drew Horus into during their contendings:  Seth invited the young boy, Horus, home for a feast so they could talk about their differences. After the feast Seth asked Horus to stay for the night and share his mat (everyone in the middle east rural areas still sleeps on mats). Seth conveniently curled up behind Horus and in the middle of the night inserted his penis into Horus' buttocks. Except that Horus, who could not sleep to start with, had his hands between his thighs and deceived Seth by receiving Seth's semen into his open fist.

There is a great deal we can learn from what comes next: Seth goes to the Assembly of Gods and brags that he "worked" Horus as a woman. In the hieroglyphic script, 'work' and 'woman' and 'vagina' are homonyms (they all have the same sound): ‘kat’. The Assembly is aghast and they are ready to give the kingship of Egypt to Seth, but Horus and his mother Isis protest and call for an accounting of whose semen is where!!!

What actually happened was that when Horus arrived home the following morning and told his mother Isis what Seth had done, Isis immediately took out her knife and cut off Horus' hands and threw them, together with Seth's semen, into the Nile marshes. Then she masturbated Horus, took his semen, and sneaked over to Seth's place and smeared Horus' semen onto the lettuce leaves that Seth was wont to eat for breakfast. And Seth did just that, so that Horus' semen ended up in Seth's belly.

So when the Assembly of Gods called upon Thoth (Djehouty) to call forth Seth's semen, these answered Thoth from the Nile marshes and not from Horus. But when Thoth called forth Horus' semen, these answered from Seth's belly. That is how the Assembly of Gods decided that Horus should inherit the kingdom of his father, Osiris.

In conclusion, I believe we can interpret these events as a clear taboo against homosexuality in the New Kingdom. This is not to say that homosexuality was not practiced! As I said before, www.egyptology.com has a web-site dealing exclusively with homosexuality in ancient Egypt where you will get the full story.

This story of the Contendings between Horus and Seth comes to you directly paraphrased from a new kingdom papyrus that I translated from the hieratic during my studies back in the seventies.

Daniel
 

Sent: Sunday, July 07, 2002 6:36 PM
Subject: Re: [amarnareunion] Re: AIII did what!?..

Hi Daniel...

About the gown...my first reaction was vanity. After a certain age and with the help of gravity we tend to want to cover up some of the imperfections. And on top of that his expressions suggest pain or illness, such a garment would just naturally be more comfortable/practical. AIII in a loin cloth would be much like me in a bikini...it's just not something you wish to inflict on innocent people!! :}

As for AIII & (possible) homosexual activities...who cares! I wouldn't care if he was a flaming King Queen...as long as he ruled in the way he did. If AIII were gay, I wouldn't feel a need to justify his actions or pass judgment on the act, simply because I feel they, like us, are drawn to a different time and era when they were someone else. Seems many people with such memories as presented here also remember living as a different 'sex' than their present life. If their (built in) different sex calls to them with the same intensity that Amarna calls to me...then there you have it!

I enjoyed the site of Niankhkhum & Khnumhotep's tomb... (at www.egyptology.com ) couldn't really decide on the nature of their relationship, but it doesn't matter...such male bonding appeals to many women. Not sure if it's because 'we' do it, or if its because it's so rare to see men at such peace with each other...or if it's because gay men understand women in a way straight men generally can't seem to do. Personally I do not feel the homosexual act would tip the scales of balance...but instead the acts of the person, {homosexual or not} would. And if indeed they were gay, it doesn't seem to have bothered the King who financed this elaborate tomb. I sent the link to a gay couple for their initial feedback or response...here's what they wrote..."well, you have one picture on a wall thousands of years ago holding and kissing your boyfriend and people just assume your gay !! I never !!! lol They look it to me." Guess that counts for a yes vote :}
 

Of course the original insinuation was that AIII was a pedophile...and maybe I'm wrong in how it was viewed in those days, but I just don't see how. Perhaps it's just the mother instinct kicking in and I'm blocking such thoughts...

Bottom line there is no proof that he was more than a womanizer and probably the owner of the first exotic palace...lap dances and all. You don't have to be a King to enjoy this type of entertainment...then or now.

Thanks for printing the Seth & Horus story...I've always heard the Seth/Osiris version. Must say it confused the hell out of me though! Of course I haven't had the time to reach the same conviction that you have:

"In conclusion, I believe we can interpret these events as a clear taboo
against homosexuality in the New Kingdom."

"There is a great deal we can learn from what comes next: Seth goes to the Assembly of Gods and brags that he "worked" Horus as a woman.  In the hieroglyphic script, 'work' and 'woman' and 'vagina' are homonyms (they all  have the same sound): kat. The Assembly is aghast and they are ready to give the kingship of Egypt to Seth when Horus and his mother Isis protest and call for an accounting of whose semen is where!!!"
 

Help me out here...if the Assembly was so aghast about the act itself...why let Seth who is bragging about having 'worked' a young man have the kingship? Of course this also cancels my question about where does it say such an act upon a little one can be found, and in some odd way even justified!? (I'm not sure what the Assembly was thinking on this one!!) Just seems to me that this could also be interpreted as, it's not 'who was doing what to who'...but more like who 'worked' who! Whom ever filled the female role "Lost". The site above also said that this liaison between the gods Horus and Seth, produced a male pregnancy. Hmmm guess we know how that turned out...the innocent male child took the throne :} Which in itself could be a lesson to future Kings.

Thanks Daniel...as always, thought provoking.
Ma'at
Vikki

July 8, 11:45 PM
Daniel Kolos writes:

Hello Vikki,

About the gown indeed! Bob mentioned in his post that AIII was the only one wearing such a gown, but I distinctly remember seeing a small statue of one of the 4th dynasty kings, perhaps Khefren, the builder of the second Great Pyramid at Giza, where he is old and decrepid and is celebrating his heb-sed in a 'heb-sed' gown!!! After all, these kings had to rule for thirty years before they could celebrate the 'heb-sed' in a country that is inhospitable to long life and at a time when the average life expectancy was in the low twenties. Even today you can see the occasional forty year old who looks like seventy. Well, imagine working outdoors in the hot sun without sun-tan lotion for twenty years and see what it does to your skin. I have no idea what you look like, bikini or otherwise, but I can assure you that you would be looking good, naked or clothed, next to an ancient Egyptian non-royal woman of the same age (I am assuming that you are over thirty! You can tell me off if I am wrong!!).

About homosexuality in ancient Egypt, you are quite right that my conclusion, stated below, that the 18th dynasty Egyptians had a taboo against homosexuality is just that - my own opinion or even prejudice. So your questioning of the Assembly of the Gods' response to Seth's announcement made me re-think what I said. What you opened my eyes to is that the Assembly of the Gods rewarded Seth for planting his semen into Horus' buttocks. You ask, above, "why let Seth who is bragging about having 'worked' a young man have the kingship?" So obviously I was wrong about a taboo against homosexuality! The taboo is either against being 'penetrated' (and not against the 'penetrator'), or it is against one male containing the sperm of another male.

In a sense it reminds me of Brazilian 'machismo'. In that culture, there are only 'penetrators' and the 'penetrated'. There is no gender line. A man who penetrates another man or any woman is equally idolized! Now where does that culture come from? Is that the male, patriarchal, hierarchical Greek model still being followed and practiced 2500 years after its first manifestation? Or did the Greeks themselves 'learn' that culture from other Middle eastern or even Egyptian sources who came before them? By asking this question, we can perhaps all see a direct link to this Horus and Seth Story. The logical conclusion would be that the ancient Egyptian sexual culture was already a male, patriarchal, hierarchical penetrating culture as early as that Horus and Seth myth!

What I mean by 'hierarchical penetrating culture' is that the higher a male's social status, the more opportunities he had to sexually penetrate those around him, either male or female. Whether or not that is true in ancient Egypt, we can only conjecture. But it certainly was true by 5th century BC Greece. There is a long scholarly thesis that was posted and circulated on the web several years ago on this subject. I cannot find it at the moment to give you the reference, but if the Greeks imitated the Egyptians who came before them, then the Egyptians must have worked out and perfected that culture long before. In that light, the Assembly of the Gods saw Horus as the 'penetrated', and, therefore, no longer worthy of kingship. When Horus proves that the reverse is actually true, that his semen is actually in Seth's belly, the Assembly has no other choice but to withdraw respect from Seth, who has been shown to be the 'penetrated' one.

Now I am going to ask everyone a difficult question: If Hatshepsut claimed to be a king, the highest hierarchical position in a male-oriented penetrating culture, how did she practice her own sexuality? If Tiye exercised control over the governing of Egypt while AIII played with the harim girls, how did she gain the respect of a male-oriented, hierarchically penetrating bureaucracy?

Either these women engaged other men or women as if they were men, OR, these ruling women created the myth that they were virgins! These women made sure that they were NEVER penetrated, at least not by any human being, OR that no one was left alive to know and tell that they were penetrated. Perhaps we have the origin of the 'virgin mother myth' that started with Isis becoming pregnant by a dead or revivified Osiris, and culminating with the Virgin Mary. In both cases of Isis and Mary, just as with Hatshepsut and Tiye, we have the top hierarchical women, both political and mythical, claiming never having been penetrated sexually. Or, if they themselves do not make that claim, their followers or spokespersons imply that claim? What do you think?

Daniel

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