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Love poetry

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Yr 12 Ramesside Period

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Love poetry

  1. 1. Ramesside Egypt: Love Poetry
  2. 2. Love Poems • Four sources containing love poems are known • P. Chester Beatty I - Deir el-Medinah • P. Harris 500 – casket in Ramesseum? • P. Turin frag. 1996 (cat. 1966) – Deir el-Medinah • Cairo Museum Vase frag. 1266 + 25218 – Deir el-Medinah? • Importance • New development in 19th Dynasty? Why? • Insight into courtship/emotions/erotic life? • Women’s voices and experiences?
  3. 3. Aspects of Love Poetry • Form: direct first person speech of young man/woman • Monologue addressed to one’s own heart • First Chester Beatty Cycle alternate’s male/female speakers • Terms of endearment: ‘brother’ & ‘sister’ • “style, prosody, and choice of words, all bear the stamp of deliberate, literate artistry.” Lichtheim, Anient Egyptian Literature II, p. 181 • Social Context • Egyptian women were not secluded • “Most marriages in ancient Egypt were arranged” Watterson, Women in Ancient Egypt p. 57 • Exceptions: Story of Ahwere and Neneferkaptah • Young marriage: ♂ 15 and ♀ 12 ; Ankshehonq advises men to marry at 20 • Connections to Hathor cult • Titles • “Sayings of the great happiness” • “Sweet sayings” • “Delightful, beautiful songs of your beloved sister as she comes from the fields” • “Songs of delight” • Performance: Likely sung in elite banquets (Fox, The Song of Songs and the Ancient Egyptian Love Songs); cf. harpist’s songs with message to “make merry” • Collection: “made by a scribe of the necropolis, Nakht-Sobk”
  4. 4. Parallel Texts • Ancient Near East: Israelite Song of Songs, Mesopotamian sacred marriage texts • Wisdom literature: “When you prosper, set up a household for yourself. Love your wife passionately, as is proper. Fill her belly, clothe her back. Soothe her body with perfumed oil. Gladden her heart as long as you live, for she is a fertile field for her lord… never contend with her in court… and keep her from gaining the upper hand!” - Instruction of Ptahhotep • Letters to the dead: “Send the message and say to her, since you are close to her: 'How are you doing? How are you?'... 'Woe, gracious faced one, there is no-one like her.‘ - Letter from Deir el Medina scribe, Butehamun, to the coffin of his dead wife, Ikhtay • Love magic • Turin erotic papyrus?

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