Sumerian Sexuality Essay

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The way that the Sumerian people viewed sexuality and femininity is much different than that of our culture. Although our culture is not thought of to be highly conservative, however, compared to the writings of the Ancient Sumerians, our views and expressions of sexuality are a lot less graphic and much more conventional. In the writings of The Epic of Gilgamesh and Enki and Ninhursanga, the sexuality and femininity is portrayed as a means of control. In The Epic of Gilgamesh, a temple priestess is brought to the woods to bring Enkidu away from the wild beasts, and into Uruk. She is told, “Open your legs, show him your beauty…Make him know, this-man-as-he-was, what a woman is” (78). The beauty and attraction of the priestess draws Enkidu out of the wilderness, which displays her success in using her sexuality to control Enkidu. In Enki and Ninhursanga, Enki first rapes Ninhursanga and impregnates her. The text says, “He poured semen into Ninhursanga’s womb and she conceived the semen in the womb, the semen of Enki” (224). He then impregnates Ninhursanga’s daughter, Ninsar, Ninsar’s daughter, Ninkura, and Ninkura’s daughter, Ninnima. Finally, after pouring semen into Ninnima’s daughter, Uttu, Ninhursanga uses her power to pull out the semen from Uttu’s thigh, and plant it into the ground, which Enki will later consume, become deathly ill. Our culture’s view of sexuality and feminity differs highly from that which we have seen in The Epic of Gilgamesh and Enki and Ninhursanga. In today’s society, the role of the temple priestess, or prostitute, is not associated with the church or any form of religious ceremony. Also, rape and incest are both seen as crimes in our society, and punishable by law. For us, sex is viewed as either love or lust, whereas for the Sumerian people, it was much more natural and

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