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"...an enormous erect phallus, and piles of lettuce in the background."
January 25, 2013 5:09 PM   Subscribe

First noticed on tumblr but now available to all, Alex Clayden's paper "Same-Sex Desire in Pharaonic Egypt" which, among other things, tells you about the connection between lettuce and semen and the Ancient Egyptian for "You have a nice ass."
posted by The Whelk (26 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
whelk stop harvesting all your posts from my tumblr

also where is the ANCIENT EGYPTIAN BUTTSEX tag
posted by elizardbits at 5:12 PM on January 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I don't harvest all my posts from your tumblr

Only the best ones.
posted by The Whelk at 5:19 PM on January 25, 2013 [12 favorites]


Huh. The hieroglyphics for "homosexual" (or its closest approximation) appear to be homonymous with "wash garment in warm water, owl fucker."
posted by Sys Rq at 5:25 PM on January 25, 2013 [7 favorites]


Love the footnotes.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:39 PM on January 25, 2013


What I really meant to say was, nice ass!
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 5:39 PM on January 25, 2013


Discovery of these hieroglyphs by a younger me might have meant me ending up with a tattoo I'd now probably really regret.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 5:55 PM on January 25, 2013 [22 favorites]


From page 15:
The dripping phallus determinative implies male sexual emissions and activity.

God bless hieroglyphics. I think I've found the name of my new grammarian detective squad.
posted by Dr. Zira at 6:05 PM on January 25, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm totally quoting this for the lulz
In addition to being inherently phallic in shape, the Egyptians also believed that lettuce could act as an aphrodisiac. Egyptian lettuce has a very high natural rubber content – which is milky white and sticky in its natural state – and when it is broken or rubbed it emits the rubber through its membranes. The Egyptians were thus reminded of the phallus which emits semen in a similar manner when stimulated.
Clearly I need to start buying better lettuce; that prewashed bagged stuff just isn't erotic enough.

I think this is an undergraduate class project paper. The author is Alex Clayden, maybe @aclayden? He's apparently a good student! The paper is dated December 2012. The paper mentions Marc Matera, who I suspect is this UCSC history professor. He taught a Fall 2012 undergraduate class HIS 196H - 01 Sex and the City--The History of Sexuality in Urban Areas Around the Globe. (And FWIW, here's the site that published the PDF).
posted by Nelson at 6:18 PM on January 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


Discovery of these hieroglyphs by a younger me might have meant me ending up with a tattoo I'd now probably really regret.

It's never too late to do something you'll regret.
posted by malthusan at 6:19 PM on January 25, 2013 [11 favorites]


The thing I love most about this is that some of the footnotes are entirely in hieroglyphs.
posted by limeonaire at 6:20 PM on January 25, 2013 [5 favorites]


I feel terribly nitpicky to be so irritated by the writer's failure to be consistent with verb tenses. Examples:
Seth scattered the parts of Osiris throughout the various provinces, called nomes, of Egypt, and throws Osiris' phallus into the Nile where it was eaten by a fish. Isis collected all of the pieces of Osiris in order to bring him back to life, but cannot find the phallus.…

Horus was enraged and decapitates his mother for being sympathetic to Seth, but when the Ennead heard of his matricide they vowed to punish him.…

Seth was furious, and challenged Horus to another labor, but in the end it is Horus who was awarded the kingship.
posted by Lexica at 6:43 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


ANCIENT EVENINGS.
posted by ovvl at 7:35 PM on January 25, 2013


Lettuce and sex!
A friend of mine, a scholar of ancient Greek, noted this weird lettuce/sex connection to me once. From his message, here are some links:

New Yorker, April 19 and 26, 2004, p. 185- Article about joke collections in history. The author notes:
A couple of jokes about lettuce, for example, might have struck a Roman audience as hilarious, given their belief that lettuce leaves, variously, promoted or impeded sexual function.
This is more understandable if you look at the pictures where the lettuce is shown as a tall skinny crop, growing up to a person's waist. Also, its associated deity, Min (warning: stone relief carving of weiner) representing agricultural fertility.


Another link from the same page as this FPP, but from 2001 and not a PDF:
Ancient Egyptian Sexuality - scroll down halfway for the Horus/Set semen/lettuce story.
Then Set said to Horus: "Come, let us have a feast day at my house." And Horus said to him: "I will, I will." Now when evening had come, a bed was prepared for them, and they lay down together. At night, Set let his member become stiff, and he inserted it between the thighs of Horus. And Horus placed his hand between his thighs and caught the semen of Set.

-- Patrick F. Houlihan (2001), Wit & Humour in Ancient Egypt, p. 121

After Osiris' eventual death, while Horus was growing up and planning his own revenge, Set and Horus engaged in a homosexual relationship. In one part of the myth, Set proclaimed to Horus, "How lovely your backside is." Informing his mother Isis about his uncle's ardour, Horus is told to catch Set's semen rather than becoming impregnated by the murderer of his father. Set, in doing so, was planning on humiliating Horus by showing the gods that Horus would be filled with someone else's semen.

Horus and Isis's next plan was to 'impregnate' Set with Horus' semen. His mother spreads powerful unguents on Horus' penis, after which he ejaculated into a jar, and they spread it on some lettuce, a favourite aphrodisiac to the ancient Egyptians. Set then ate the semen-covered lettuce, and so Horus (rather than Set with his first 'attack') bacame sexually dominant over his uncle. Set then asked the gods to bring the semen forth from the 'impregnated' one, to humiliate Osiris' son. The semen comes out of Set himself, and he becomes the laughing stock of the gods!

- Caroline Seawright
Also he says there is a religious sect called the Yezidis who are forbidden to eat lettuce because of some sexual association, although the links he sent me are dead now.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:57 PM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wikipedia link for Min
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:58 PM on January 25, 2013


I feel like the really interesting part of this is sort of glossed over: HOLY SHIT THE EGYPTIANS HAD SEX WITH THEIR MALE DEAD?
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:20 PM on January 25, 2013 [2 favorites]


That was nking fantastic.
posted by Stoatfarm at 9:39 PM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]


Clearly I've been growing the wrong sort of lettuce.
posted by BlueJae at 10:31 PM on January 25, 2013


The lettuce in question seems to be "wild lettuce," Lactuca virosa, "also sometimes identified as opium lettuce," and "believed to have been used for its psychoactive properties by ancient Egyptians based on its depiction in hieroglyphics." (Images of the plant.)

This super-short YouTube video looks like the camera operator might have been imbibing a little too much of their own lettuce, but you can certainly see how its properties might have inseminated the imagination.

"... wild lettuce grows to a maximum height of six feet and has a pale green central stalk that is sometimes spotted with purple. The erect stem, springing from a brown tap-root, is smooth and pale green, sometimes spotted with purple. There are a few prickles on the lower part and short horizontal branches above. The numerous, large, radical leaves are from 6 to 18 inches long, entire, and obovate-oblong. The stem leaves are scanty, alternate, and small, clasping the stem with two small lobes. The heads are numerous and shortly-stalked, the pale-yellow corolla being strap-shaped. The rough, black fruit is oval, with a broad wing along the edge, and prolonged above into a long, white beak carrying silvery tufts of hair. The whole plant is rich in a milky juice that flows freely from any wound. This has a bitter taste and a narcotic odour. When dry, it hardens, turns brown, and is known as lactucarium."

Well, it certainly is a lot more butch than my Romaine.
posted by taz at 2:46 AM on January 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


I have a vague memory of being told that lettuce reduces the male sperm count. This is obviously still folk knowledge in parts of northern Europe.
posted by zoo at 3:59 AM on January 26, 2013


Okay, I got lost and couldn't find exactly how you DO say "nice ass" in Egyptian. Help?

I, of all people, most need to know.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:27 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, I got lost and couldn't find exactly how you DO say "nice ass" in Egyptian. Help?

nfr.wj-pḥwj = kj

("How beautiful are thy buttocks!")
posted by Sys Rq at 8:30 AM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Install the free Aegyptus font, which displays the Egyptian segment of Unicode, then check this out (you might have to zoom in to see it clearly):

𓄤 𓆑 𓅱“ 𓄖 𓎡
  ð“‚‹          â€œ

Technically the, uh, paddle hieroglyph, the bird hieroglyph, and the mouse hieroglyph should be centered vertically a little more, but this is about the best I could do! Oh, and in that string, I believe it's the "mouse" hieroglyph that represents buttocks.

Otherwise, it's on page 11 of the PDF. Heh.
posted by limeonaire at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2013


Limeonaire, the "mouse" is literally "hind parts of a lion." (While I'm on the subject, the "paddle" is a lute, which here forms part of the word "nefer," or "beautiful.")
posted by milk white peacock at 10:07 AM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


Excellent. I had no idea what to call everything. I used to have a hieroglyphic stamp set when I was a kid, but I've clearly forgotten what little I ever knew...
posted by limeonaire at 10:45 AM on January 26, 2013


ending up with a tattoo I'd now probably really regret.

Nah, just tell people it's about Egyptian asstronomy.
posted by Twang at 2:45 PM on January 26, 2013 [2 favorites]


LobsterMitten: This is more understandable if you look at the pictures where the lettuce is shown as a tall skinny crop, growing up to a person's waist.
Lettuce is a tall, skinny crop - if you let it go to seed. Most modern varieties have flower/seed stalks about 2 to 3' tall.

I left for vacation once, and returned to find slowly nodding, creepy-as-fuck, Spock-seducing, alien vegetables in my garden....
posted by IAmBroom at 9:57 PM on January 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


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