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12/05/2019 06:00 PM ISAW Lecture Hall

A Tale of Two Stories:

Mythological Texts as a Source on Ancient Egyptian Gender Roles

Ann Macy Roth

Bata and Osiris, the heroes of two very well known ancient Egyptian stories, have often been compared, and the similarity of some episodes in their lives has been noted. What has not been properly understood, however, is the degree to which the stories themselves are structurally identical, differing only in the gender of the characters who play the two secondary roles in the stories. The recognition of this circumstance means that the two stories can be compared, which clarifies the episodes that are essential and those that are inessential additions. More importantly, however, the results can be used to examine the assumptions the Egyptians made about gender. When are male and female characters able to do the same things, and when must the story be twisted to prevent characters from acting in ways that are inappropriate to their gender?
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