I am now getting into the detail of my article ‘Hittites, Horses and Corpses’ and stumbled across a law I had not noticed before in the Hittite Laws (from c1650-1500 BCE):

¶ 199 If anyone has sexual relations with a pig or a dog, he shall die … If an ox leaps on a man (in sexual excitement), the ox shall die; the man shall not die. They shall substitute one sheep for the man and put it to death. If a pig leaps on a man (in sexual excitement), it is not an offence.

The issue of the pig immediately raises what may appear to be a contradiction: one may not have ‘sexual relations’ (the Hittite literally has ‘sins’) with a pig, but then it is fine if the pig should find you hot and mount you. Penetration seems to be the issue: penetrating a pig is unacceptable, but being penetrated by a pig causes less concern (but the terminology is actually quite vague, so it does leave open the possibility for smooching, fellatio, cunnilingus and so on). Unless of course the law actually means not so much porcophilia but  ‘pig-sex’ as a generic term, that is, a sexual act that is considered outrageous or outside the norms of societal sexual behaviours such as water sports, defecation, bondage, group-sex and bestiality. But perhaps that is taking a little too much interpretive license.

The ox is a slightly more tricky issue, for even though it is an offence for an ox to mount a man, the man in question is not to be killed (unlike the deviant ox). Instead, a substitutionary lamb is led to the slaughter, to take the punishment for him. A pre-Christological motif perhaps? If so, Christology is an extraordinary universalisation from an a very unlikely particular: as a sheep is to an ox who mounts a man, so is Christ to a sinner.

On a more general level, one gains the clear impression of a thoroughly agricultural society, in which there is an everyday possibility that an ox or a pig – two of the key animals domesticated in the ancient Near East – might take a fancy to you as you bend over to perform some menial chore on the land. It would be a waste of human beings to do away with them every time such a connection of the plumbing occurred.

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