Homework: Important Points: Today's Topics:
Egyptian Women (II)
First Intermediate Period
Lecture Topic: Egyptian Women (II)
During the lecture, take notes here. Insert a sub-page for each lecture topic.
Attitudes towards wife
○ Instruction literature advises man to treat wife well, but control her
(cf. Instructuion of Ptahhotep: Parkinson, Sinuhe, p.256-57;AEL I, 69)
□ "love your wife with proper ardour: fill her belly, clothe her back! … Remove her from power, suppress her! … restraining her is how to
make her remain in your house …"
Suggestgood treatment, but self-interest
○ Even starker imagery--> instruction of Khety, 14:
"the mat-maker within the weaving shop is worse off than a woman - with his knee against his stomach, and unable to breathe air…"
□ Refers to giving birth?
Gave birth seated
○ Need to restrain a woman--> glimpse of social reality --> seemingly not uncommon to leave husbands / partners
○ "Fickleness" (--> cf. "Storm-Wind"metaphor!)
Widely expressed in Literature:
□ -->(bored?) Woman tries to seduce men:
Tales of Wonder from Cheops' Court/pWestcar (WKS 14-15)--> priest's wife sleeps with a town's man
Tale of Truth and Falsehood (Late NK) --> married rich woman (independent), eye is caught by beautiful beggar man who is blind.
Takes him into her house and makes him her lover and doorkeep. Has a child by him, son finds out father is doorkeeper and tells his
mother off. Woman is punished; not socially acceptable. That a woman can take a lover and have the means
Tale of the Two Brothers -->older brother takes younger brother in. Wife of older brother then tries to seduce younger brother.
Younger brother outraged, she then pretends that he tried to force himself on her to the husband, saying she was beaten. Then the
older brother drives younger brother out of house. Wife tries to kill younger brother many times but fails
The "Fickle" Male
○ 18th maxim of Instruction of Ptahhotep:
Don’t be tempted by women in house of friends
□ -->common problem?
□ (ANETP I, 236; AEL I, 68; Parkinson, Sinuhe, 256):
"beware of approaching the women! … A 1000 men are turned away form their good (i.e. led astray) - a little moment, the likeness of
a dream (moment of pleasure) - and death is reached by knowing them! …"
◊ Must always be in control
○ Purpose of marriage first and foremost --> procreation
○ Cf. Focus on reproductive ability of women in all media
Childlessness = reason for divorce
But evidence for adoption
Infant mortality high
Ideal: offspring (Son!) to
□ Follow in father's footsteps
□ Perform Funerary cult
Taweret -->protector of childbirth
□ Always shown pregnant
□ Mixture of three different beasts (protective)
Women and Religion
○ (esp. OK) Priestess of Hathor
○ (from NK) Songstresses, or musicians, of gods
○ (--> Sistra, Menits -->"Appeasement"
-->esp. Songstress of Amun
□ Woman in a choir performing for the god
□ In 18th Dynasty = title for queen
Then becomes title of princess
◊ "God's wife of Amun"
Becomes highest ranking religious official
To curtail her power, require she be celibate
Very powerful but cannot start a line of her own
○ Queenship, like kingship
Modeled on divine sphere
□ King's mother / wife support king
Most important title is mother of king, followed by wife of the king
○ (OK) burial in subsidiary pyramids;
Some 6th Dyn. Queens -->Pyramid Texts
NMC 101 - Land of the Pharaohs Page 1 Some 6th Dyn. Queens -->Pyramid Texts
○ In NK --> Valley of the Queens (QV)
○ Royal Harem = important economic institution
-->King's wives owned Lands/Staff
Shown as entirely independent of their husbands (only in NK)
○ Few Women actual Rulers: