Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature

Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature

Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature

Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature

Synopsis

Sex and Eroticism in Mesopotamian Literature is a new contribution to current debates about sex and eroticism. It gives an insight into Mesopotamian attitudes to sexuality by examining the oldest preserved written evidence on the subject - the Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform sources - which were written between the 21st and the 5th centuries B.C. Using these long-neglected and often astonishing data, Gwendolyn Leick is able to anlayse Mesopotamian views of prostitution, love magic and deviant sexual behaviour as well as more general issues of sexuality and gender.This fascinating book sheds light on the sexual culture of one of the earliest literate civilisations.

Excerpt

For some years, the main concern of my publications has been to make the results of Assyriological research accessible for the non-specialist. Since the great wave of popular interest in the subject during the Victorian and Edwardian era, when the curly-bearded, giant bull-men drew the crowds in London, Berlin and Paris, the general awareness of Mesopotamian scholarship, even within academic circles, has dwindled remarkably. Although public enthusiasm for the ancient Near East never matched that for Pharaonic Egypt, in spite of the often spectacular archaeological discoveries, there was also a remarkable lack of communication between the specialists, toiling at the rock-face of the tablets, and the wider audience. The pressures of contemporary academic life make such a mediating role even more difficult. Consequently, most of the astonishing data of one of the great early and literate civilizations remains practically unknown outside the world of cuneiformists and biblical scholars.

The present work brings together as many original texts on love and sexuality, or relevant excerpts, as are available in published form. There has been considerable activity during the last twenty years in translating and collecting Mesopotamian love poetry. After all, the Old Akkadian, Sumerian and Old Babylonian sources are the oldest literary documents about love, predating the Egyptian material of the Middle Kingdom by several hundred years. But while in other academic disciplines, especially in the Classics, the subject has received a good deal of scholarly attention over the last twenty years, to some extent inspired by feminist thinking, there has so far been no attempt to synthesize the available data from Mesopotamian sources. They are, as will become apparent, far from naïve or primitive. Not all of them are poetry, some are myths, rituals, or incantations.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.