People have this super macho mental image of the ancient world – a place where women were chattel and men fucked around at their leisure, often with hairless boys drenched in olive oil. So slippery.
Certainly, there have always been places in the world where that’s true. Hell, that’s going on right now in some of the more unsavory corners of the globe. The chattel part – boys drenched in olive oil feeding each other pitted figs is totally okay with me.
Anyway, I’m just saying the assumption is merited, but it’s a mistake to believe that just because our ancestors were from a more primitive time that all of them had the emotional intelligence of a half-eaten, olive-oil-smeared fig.
Romantic love was revered by the Egyptians. It appears so frequently in their art that even primitive, middle class tombs often depict departed spouses embracing again in the afterlife. Can you imagine being so devoted to someone, so wholly enchanted by their presence, that even in death, you intend to find and keep them?
It was the ultimate culture of passion and romance – the perfect setting for a heroine to get swept off her feet (and into a bed … or onto the floor or against a wall or … hm). In fact, there’s a wealth of truly naughty Egyptian art out there that dates back to several thousand years BC. A particular favorite is the one where the guy’s penis is so huge that it has basically decided to play the “you’re flying!” game with the woman he’s trying to bed.
This devoted, sexually-charged Egyptian comprehension of love and lust existed in stark contrast to their neighbors, the Greeks, whose men didn’t wed until they were around 30, and then only did so out of a sense of duty and to women around half their age. Presumably with a full range of options still happening on the side.
I know where I’d rather live.
So, with this knowledge, garnered from an undergraduate course many moons ago on anthropology and gender, sprang the concept for Another Man’s Queen – a story about a woman who knows she deserves more than some absentee Greek douche bag. I mean … remove his battle prowess and it kind of sounds like college, doesn’t it?
Our heroine, the Grecian beauty Isis, is not the only woman featured in this story. We also meet the pharaoh’s wife, a dominatrix queen with an assortment of obedient pets. Though she appears briefly, she raises an interesting question – would such a thing have been allowed?
Well, yes and no. Married women (outside of the royal family) had a title – “Mistress of the House.” They held equal political standing with the men in Egyptian society and just as much of a say in who their life partners were. Oddly, there exists no record, through several thousand years of Egyptian anthropology, of a wedding ceremony. Presumably, once you chose your partner and began living with him or her, that was that.
Due to this no-nonsense approach to matrimony, adultery was pretty severely frowned upon for women. Because some dudes had lots of wives. So long as they could provide for them. Seems unfair, but I get it. Pragmatism.
Though, now that I think about it, some dudes also possibly had husbands. Not sure what the rules of adultery were for them, but they almost certainly existed.
But I’m getting off track. The point here is that we’re not re-inventing the sexual wheel here in our innovative 21st century paradise. Sex, love, butt-stuff, it’s all been around for eons.
Chances are very good that women enjoyed a bit of BDSM at the dawn of the world, and the odds that a miserable bride imported from Athens with some unromantic ass-wipe of a husband might be considered “not quite” married by an Egyptian – a product of a culture that actually sought mutual attraction and affection. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that their pantheon of gods is substantially less rapey and wife-murdery than the one on Mt. Olympus.
In fact, the more I research Ancient Egypt, the more I kind of hope I accidentally touch a statue in the Brooklyn Musuem and end up transported there for a one-night fling with some sexy, Thebian courtier.
A girl can dream.