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Sex, Rhetoric, And The Public Monument: The Alluring Body Of Naram-Sîn Of Agade

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Chapter Summary

The problem posed for the modern viewer by the eroticized body of the political leader was not a problem for the ancient Mesopotamians; rather, sexuality was inextricably linked to potency, potency to male vigor, and male vigor to authority and dominance, hence rule. This chapter suggests that what is manifest in men's beards-an important secondary sexual characteristic-is precisely their fully developed manhood; and Naram-Sin's beard was most abundant by far on the stela. The attributes identified as positive signs of value inscribed in the ruler's body had to exist within a lexicon of cultural value before they could be deployed as part of a politicized aesthetic. Naram-Sîn's strategic deployment of these attributes coincided with a number of strategic political moves during his reign. The sexual allure of the ruler's body serves as a positive attribute; it also functions as a triggering mechanism within a powerful rhetoric of rulership.

Keywords: ancient Mesopotamians; Naram-Sin of Agade; public monument; rhetoric of rulership; sexual allure



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