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(around 2250 BC) Egypt




Pharaoh Neferkare (Pepi II) and Sasenet (or Sisene), a military commander, lived during the 6th Dynasty in the Old Kingdom. Known from three fragmentary copies, from the 19th-25th Dynasties (1295-656 BC), this text also probably originated earlier and had a long reading history.

Although the beginning of the text is damaged, there is a reference to Sasenet amusing the king "because there was no woman [or wife] there with him"; and the word "love [desire]" is mentioned in the line above. A little later we read that Teti, a commoner, saw

"the divine person of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare, going out during the night to walk on his own... [Remaining hidden,] Teti said to himself, 'if this is the case, then it is true what is said about him, that he goes forth during the night.' ... [Then Teti followed the king, who] arrived at the house of the general Sasenet. He threw up a stone and stamped his foot, at which a [ladder] was lowered down for him. He climbed up, and Teti son of Henet waited... When his divine person had done what he wanted to with [the general], he returned to the palace, and Teti son of Henet followed him..."

Teti then notes that the king went to the general's house "at the fourth hour of the night [10 p.m.] and spent four hours there." This tale stresses the "clandestine nature of the affair," points to "rumors [circulating] of the king's nocturnal cruising," and "enhances the secrecy" of the affair by describing the king's sneaking off to meet at the general's house.

Although the narrative implies a censure of homosexuality, Neferkari is not criticized per se for having sex with another male but for being a bad ruler. Some Egyptologists have suggested that this piece (including the affair) conveys an atmosphere of "royal corruption," yet the description itself is fairly "neutral in tone and non-judgmental."

Still, contemporaries might have looked upon such activity on the part of a king, who was an incarnation of deity, as undignified and inappropriate. Yet, the pharaoh evidently had homosexual desires strong enough so that he found a secret lover and a nocturnal way to satisfy them happily, at least until he was discovered.


Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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