A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My Third Post on Demotic Egyptian in One Week

Maybe it's the fact that sometimes things come in threes. Anyway, after posting a week ago about the completion of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago's Demotic Egyptian Dictionary, and noting a few days later that their Demotic Grammar was also available online,  now I find yet a third reason to mention Demotic Egyptian in a week. This one is, admittedly, a bit kinkier. From a report at LiveScience, to wit:
A recently deciphered Egyptian papyrus from around 1,900 years ago tells a fictional story that includes drinking, singing, feasting and ritual sex, all in the name of the goddess Mut.
Researchers believe that a priest wrote the blush-worthy tale, as a way to discuss controversial ritual sex acts with other priests.
"Our text may represent a new and hitherto unrecognized Egyptian literary genre: 'cult' fiction, the purpose of which was to allow controversial or contentious matters pertaining to the divine cult to be scrutinized in this way," wrote professors Richard Jasnow and Mark Smith, who published their translation and analysis of the papyrus in the most recent edition of the journal Enchoria.
Since it's fragmentary and still being studied, it's probably not a good starter text for the beginner, if you were hoping for a sort of Fifty Shades of Ancient Egypt or some such.
The newly deciphered tale refers several times to having sex. At one point a speaker implores a person to "drink truly. Eat truly. Sing" and to "don clothing,* anoint (yourself), adorn the eyes, and enjoy sexual bliss." The speaker adds that Mut will not let you "be distant from drunkenness on any day. She will not allow you to be lacking in any (manner)."
The speaker defends his views by saying, "As for those who have called me evil, Mut will 'call' them evil."
Mut was a major Egyptian mother goddess.

[*"don" clothing? I think they're doing it wrong.]

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