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Old Aug 11, 2011, 09:41 AM   #1
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Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt.

Very often homosexuality is seen as a quite recent phenomenon, that the ancients would be absolutely baffled or even disgusted by. However a cursory glance at classical culture in particular Ancient Greece and Rome gives the lie to the idea. Even the manliest of heroes in Ancient Greek and Rome seems to have had homoerotic tendencies. We hear of Achilles tender love of Patroclus. There is also the great warrior Alexander the Great (who modelled himself after Achilles) and his famous man-boy lovers. There are also famous stories of a young Augustus prostituting himself shamelesly to his uncle Julius Caesar for the sake of political profit. And not just Classical Rome and Greece, even in more unlikely heroes and cultures we find possible evidence of similar things. The bloodiest warrior of them all the Great and inimitable Genghis Khan (not withstanding his later anti-gay laws) may have had a homoerotic relationship with a fellow warrior who turned out to be his most dangerous rival and challenge to his destiny: Jamuka. But i believe the most stunning example of all would be the possibilty of a homo-erotic relationship between the Prince Jonathan and the young warrior David recorded in the old testament.

The striking thing about the last example would be the unlikeliness of it. After all the old testament with its hundreds of laws and culture of strict tradition is the source of much anti-gay sentiment and justification. Ancient Egypt or Kemet as its natives referred to it may not be a model for the monotheism that we find in the old testament, however we still get that same sense of conservatism and strict tradition in that society. After all we are speaking of a culture which showed amazing cultural continuity from 4000 BC to 342 BC when the last native pharaoh Nectanebo fled ultimately to Merowe in modern day Sudan. And ofcourse in Kemet the social and political order was based on the idea and concept of Maat, which meant order over chaos or balance in all things. This idea was integrated into a religion which seemed keen on matching every male God to a female counterpart. Now this on the surface would seem incompatible with the idea of Homosexuality and yet remarkably we find examples both in myth and history of such.

Bruce L. Gerighttp://epistle.us/hbarticles/ancientegypt1.html makes references to these examples beginning with 'The Contendings of Horus and Seth' a story of rivalry between Horus and Seth, two major Egyptian Gods. It seems to be a fight between two lovers of who should be on top-- or rather who should play the role of man, (at least in the eyes of the world outside the private bedroom) with Horus with help from his mom eventually winning Seth:

The divine person of Seth said to the divine person of Horus: ‘How beautiful are your buttocks, how vital! […] Stretch out your legs …’13 And the Person of Horus said: ‘Watch out; I shall tell [this]!’” Then he ran and told his mother Isis, that Seth desired to sodomize him. “And she said to him: ‘Beware! Do not approach him about it! When he mentions it to you another time, then you shall say to him: “It is too painful for me entirely, as you are heavier than me. My strength [backside] shall not support your strength [erection]…”’14 Then when he gives you his strength, place your fingers between your buttocks. … Lo, he will enjoy it exceedingly (?). [Keep] this seed which has come forth … without letting the sun see it…”15 Later, Isis threw Seth’s semen into a nearby stream, then spread some of Horus’ semen on lettuce and gave it to Seth to eat. Later, when Seth boasted to the gods that he had sexually taken Horus, the youth denied it. To settle the argument, the gods called forth the seed of both. The seed of Seth answered from the water into which Isis had thrown it, while the seed of Horus came forth from Seth’s forehead in the form of a golden disk, which was grabbed by the moon god Thoth to become his symbol.16

The same author also makes reference to at least four laws in the Egyptian Book of the Dead which make reference to homosexual activity, but only two in my mind turn out to be unambiguous evidence of reference to homosexuality and deserve to be quoted.:

“I have not had sexual relations with a boy.

O His-Face-Behind-Him, who comes forth from Tep-het-djat, I have not been perverted; I have not had sexual relations with a boy.


There is also Teaching of Vizier Ptahhotep ---12th Dynasty (1991-1785 B.C.) , which includes the warning:

Do not copulate [nk] with a woman-boy [hmt], for you know that / what is (generally) opposed will be a [necessity] to his heart, and that which is in his body will not be calmed. Let him not spend the night doing what is opposed in order that he may be calm after he has [quenched] his desire...

The author seems to be talking about having relations with a tranvestite. Peculiarly he speaks about Tranvestite as if they suffered from some kind of disease which should not be encouraged or made worse. This attitude seems similar to the previous two commandments where just as in the case of the old testament, homosexuality is frowned upon. Nobody is asking for gays to be stoned like in the bible, (the author seems actually concerned about the 'wretched' woman-boy with the strange desires which can never be fully quenced) but nonetheless the activity is still frowned upon.

But a closer similarity to the Old Testament would be Neferkare’s Affair with General Sisene :

Pharaoh Neferkare (Pepi II) and Sisene (or Sasenet), a military commander, lived during the 6th Dynasty (2460-2200 B.C.) in the Old Kingdom. Known from three fragmentary copies, from the 19th–25th Dynasties (1295-656 B.C.), this text also probably originated earlier and had a long reading history.45 Although the beginning of the text is damaged, there is a reference to Sisene amusing the king “because there was no woman [or wife] there with him”; and the word “love [desire]” is mentioned in the line above.46 A little later we read that Teti, a commoner, saw “the divine person of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare, going out during the night to walk on his own… [Remaining hidden,] Teti said to himself, ‘if this is the case, then it is true what is said about him, that he goes forth during the night.’ … [Then Teti followed the king, who] arrived at the house of the general Sasenet. He threw up a stone and stamped his foot, at which a [ladder] was lowered down for him. He climbed up, and Teti son of Henet waited... When his divine person had done what he wanted to with [the general], he returned to the palace, and Teti son of Henet followed him...”

This relationship ofcourse mirrors the affair between the Prince Jonathan and the future King David. Just like in the bible the author does not frown on the affair. However its clandestine nature show there is something awry going on there. It would not be altogether wrong to conclude that the Kemetian attitude towards homo-eroticism was complex and varied and could be quite similar to our own modern socitey, ranging from the tolerance of woman-boys or transvestites mentioned in the Book of the Dead, whose sexuality was obvious to everyone to more clandestine affairs like the one between Neferkare and the general Sisene. Surprisingly we find no evidence of the more negative extremes where homosexuals are jailed, banned or killed for being different, as is the case today!

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Old Aug 11, 2011, 10:13 AM   #2
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On David and Jonathan, I don't know if there's such a good case for portraying them as lovers. The Old Testament certainly says nothing like this. I think the best one can say is that the portrayal of them is consistent with the idea that they're lovers, but it's equally consistent with the idea that they're just good friends.

On transvestites, do you mean transsexuals? Transvestites are not typically, or at least not necessarily, homosexual.
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 11:41 AM   #3
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On David and Jonathan, I don't know if there's such a good case for portraying them as lovers. The Old Testament certainly says nothing like this. I think the best one can say is that the portrayal of them is consistent with the idea that they're lovers, but it's equally consistent with the idea that they're just good friends.

On transvestites, do you mean transsexuals? Transvestites are not typically, or at least not necessarily, homosexual.
You forgot the idea that they could love each other non-sexually.
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 11:24 PM   #4
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On David and Jonathan, I don't know if there's such a good case for portraying them as lovers. The Old Testament certainly says nothing like this. I think the best one can say is that the portrayal of them is consistent with the idea that they're lovers, but it's equally consistent with the idea that they're just good friends..
I tend to believe that they were lovers. Bear in mind the bible would be hardpressed to explain the inconsitency of portraying a gay relationship beteen David and Jonathan, and at the same time rant on about the iniquity of Sodom and Gommorah. Because of that the language used is not very explicit.
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 11:25 PM   #5
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Why would you say you "tend to believe" something, and then immediately explain why it's a tenuous belief to hold?

There's nothing to indicate they were lovers. You can surmise that maybe it was censored or left intentionally vague, but absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
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Old Aug 11, 2011, 11:33 PM   #6
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I tend to believe that they were lovers. Bear in mind the bible would be hardpressed to explain the inconsitency of portraying a gay relationship beteen David and Jonathan, and at the same time rant on about the iniquity of Sodom and Gommorah. Because of that the language used is not very explicit.
Clearly this means Jesus and the beloved disciple were butt buddies.


This is assuming a "gay relationship" needs to be sexal
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 04:00 AM   #7
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You forgot the idea that they could love each other non-sexually.
I include that in the category of "just good friends".

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Bear in mind the bible would be hardpressed to explain the inconsitency of portraying a gay relationship beteen David and Jonathan, and at the same time rant on about the iniquity of Sodom and Gommorah. Because of that the language used is not very explicit.
There's no such person, and no such document, as "the Bible". The sin and destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is described in the book of Genesis (and there is no obvious indication in that story that it was the Sodomites' homosexuality, as opposed to all of their more obvious vices, that was the object of divine wrath), while the story of David is told in the entirely different books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles. The fact that later people have taken these and other books, put them in a single cover, and called it "the Bible" doesn't create any imperative that they agree with each other. (Indeed the books of Chronicles appear deliberately written, in part, to correct what the author perceives as the errors of the books of Kings - but that is by the by.)
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 09:37 AM   #8
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Back to the original topic, it's a very interesting little piece and thanks for posting it. I had never heard anything about homosexuality in ancient Egypt. From what was posted, it sounds like homosexuality was against the morals of the culture but that it was still not unusual.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 02:52 PM   #9
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Homosexuality between Julius and Augustus? I suppose thats a wishfull thinking of someone living as homosexual and projecting that into everything one sees.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 03:39 PM   #10
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Or Mark Antony.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 09:58 PM   #11
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Homosexuality between Julius and Augustus? I suppose thats a wishfull thinking of someone living as homosexual and projecting that into everything one sees.
Hey am not gay. But am sure i read somewhere that the young and ambitious Julius was unafraid to sllep with his uncle for political favors. Will come up with the source, dont worry.
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Old Aug 12, 2011, 10:19 PM   #12
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Back to the original topic, it's a very interesting little piece and thanks for posting it. I had never heard anything about homosexuality in ancient Egypt. From what was posted, it sounds like homosexuality was against the morals of the culture but that it was still not unusual.
Thank you Novakart. I think you would be interested in the relationship between Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep hose tomb was found in Saqqara near Memphis.



Bruce L Geric explains:

Initially dubbed the “Tomb of the Two Brothers,” this burial place was discovered (and partly reassembled) in 1964 at Saqqara, near Memphis.65 This tomb shows the two men who were buried there holding hands and embracing intimately, noses touching.66 Inscriptions reveal that both men held the title of Royal Manicurist and Chief of Palace Manicurists; and the tomb dates from the reign of Niuserre (2453-2422 B.C.), in the 3rd Dynasty in the latter half of the Old Kingdom. The two men, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, ingenuously had their names decoratively intertwined above the entrance to the inner chambers as “Niankh-Khnum-Hotep,”, which may be translated “joined in life and joined in death [or ‘peace’].” Both men are identified as hm (with the sense of “priest” here), and another inscription authorizes other priests (hm) to carry out their duties, while forbidding the men’s families from hindering them. The Egyptian hm derives from the common hieroglyph for “female,” but drops the feminine ending. This pictograph was used in a variety of senses, including “coward,” more generally “eunuch” (more in the sense of one being born a male biologically but having changed one’s gender, than being castrated), and commonly “priest” in tomb inscriptions. How these males were changed into hm is not clear, although such androgynous servants have often played a role in cultic rituals related to death and burial...
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 12:43 AM   #13
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Hey am not gay. But am sure i read somewhere that the young and ambitious Julius was unafraid to sllep with his uncle for political favors. Will come up with the source, dont worry.


Augustus was Julius's nephew, and while Caesar was a lot of things, gay wasn't among them.
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 06:01 AM   #14
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Hey am not gay. But am sure i read somewhere that the young and ambitious Julius was unafraid to sllep with his uncle for political favors. Will come up with the source, dont worry.
I didnt mean you are gay. not that i realy care. but the source can be dubious.
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 09:54 AM   #15
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Augustus was Julius's nephew, and while Caesar was a lot of things, gay wasn't among them.
I meant it the other way-- a young and ambitious Octavius or Augustus ( as i pointed out in the OP) sleeping with his uncle for political favors. And my you sound like a defender of Caesar's manhood. What is so unlikely about a Roman being gay--are you serious? Here is an anonymous internet source about Caesar possibly being gay. I admit it may be a dubious source, but the book from which i got the original idea i read along time ago and is not currently in my possession. Am gonna get it soon enough. In the mean time anyone with a more official source is free to back me up.

Sometime around the year 79 BCE, Julius Caesar, who was then on the staff of a military legate, was awarded the oak leaves as a civic crown for saving the life of a citizen during the war. He was sent by the general on an embassy to Nicomedes. Nicomedes was the king of Bithynia to obtain a fleet of ships.

Caesar returned successful, but he soon became the subject of rumours about the fact that he persuaded Nicomedes, who was a homosexual, to hand over the fleet of ships to him only by agreeing to sleep with the king. He never denied his relationship with Nicomedes and was also severely criticised by Cicero and accused of sexual abuse by the poet Catullus and Caesar's own nephew Octavius (who later came to be known as Augustus). Curio the Elder, one of the prominent critics of Caesar, stated that Caesar was every wife's husband and every husband's wife.


http://www.blurtit.com/q423455.html

Also i would greatly appreciate more people follow the example of Novakart and comment on topic at hand.

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Old Aug 13, 2011, 10:18 AM   #16
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To be fair, mghani, I think that claims you've made right there in the OP are legitimate topics of discussion.
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 11:57 AM   #17
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There are also famous stories of a young Augustus prostituting himself shamelesly to his uncle Julius Caesar for the sake of political profit.

Caesar returned successful, but he soon became the subject of rumours about the fact that ....
I will follow this thread to learn some new famous stories of shame. But to be honest if I take all rumours seriously I think I would be quite different person living totaly different live.

Otherwise, keep up the good work.
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 09:41 PM   #18
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I meant it the other way-- a young and ambitious Octavius or Augustus ( as i pointed out in the OP) sleeping with his uncle for political favors. And my you sound like a defender of Caesar's manhood. What is so unlikely about a Roman being gay--are you serious? Here is an anonymous internet source about Caesar possibly being gay. I admit it may be a dubious source, but the book from which i got the original idea i read along time ago and is not currently in my possession. Am gonna get it soon enough. In the mean time anyone with a more official source is free to back me up.

Sometime around the year 79 BCE, Julius Caesar, who was then on the staff of a military legate, was awarded the oak leaves as a civic crown for saving the life of a citizen during the war. He was sent by the general on an embassy to Nicomedes. Nicomedes was the king of Bithynia to obtain a fleet of ships.

Caesar returned successful, but he soon became the subject of rumours about the fact that he persuaded Nicomedes, who was a homosexual, to hand over the fleet of ships to him only by agreeing to sleep with the king. He never denied his relationship with Nicomedes and was also severely criticised by Cicero and accused of sexual abuse by the poet Catullus and Caesar's own nephew Octavius (who later came to be known as Augustus). Curio the Elder, one of the prominent critics of Caesar, stated that Caesar was every wife's husband and every husband's wife.


http://www.blurtit.com/q423455.html

Also i would greatly appreciate more people follow the example of Novakart and comment on topic at hand.
Allegations of homosexuality plagued a lot of prominent Roman officials. It was a way of vilifying them publicly, much in the same manner that an allegation of a similar nature would damage an American politician's career now.

If you make a claim, you need to back it up with more than "an anonymous internet source" and you really shouldn't be a smartarse about something that you have absolutely no evidence for. There were plenty of gay Romans, including the Emperor Hadrian. But no evidence exists that Caesar was gay.

Oh, and show a little respect kid.You haven't been here long enough to mock me. That's a six-month minimum.
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Old Aug 13, 2011, 10:50 PM   #19
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Allegations of homosexuality plagued a lot of prominent Roman officials. It was a way of vilifying them publicly, much in the same manner that an allegation of a similar nature would damage an American politician's career now.:
A more likely explanation for these allegations would be the veracity and normalcy of homoerotic relationships among these officials. And in my OP note that i talk about 'stories' about Caesar having an exploitative relationship with his nephew Octavius. Never stated it as a matter of fact. Which fits well enough with the point being made in the first paragraph--namely that homosexuality was common in the Ancient world. If you want you can start a threat entitled The Heterosexuality of Julius Caesar. My topic which Novakart with her keen eye and even keener reading comprehension skills has observed so well is about Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt

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If you make a claim, you need to back it up with more than "an anonymous internet source" and you really shouldn't be a smartarse about something that you have absolutely no evidence for. There were plenty of gay Romans, including the Emperor Hadrian. But no evidence exists that Caesar was gay.

Oh, and show a little respect kid.You haven't been here long enough to mock me. That's a six-month minimum.
You really suppose i care a fig about engaging in a pissing contest with that sensitive ego of yours 'kid'. Hey dude seriously if you have nothing meaningful to post about the topic, which is Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt and not Rome, maybe you should just not say anything. I have no interest in engaging in some vulgar wrestling match!

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Old Aug 14, 2011, 01:24 AM   #20
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A more likely explanation for these allegations would be the veracity and normalcy of homoerotic relationships among these officials. And in my OP note that i talk about 'stories' about Caesar having an exploitative relationship with his nephew Octavius. Never stated it as a matter of fact. Which fits well enough with the point being made in the first paragraph--namely that homosexuality was common in the Ancient world. If you want you can start a threat entitled The Heterosexuality of Julius Caesar. My topic which Novakart with her keen eye and even keener reading comprehension skills has observed so well is about Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt
My sole point was that rumours are not a sound basis for an historical discussion. Also, I thought your allegation in the OP that "[v]ery often homosexuality is seen as a quite recent phenomenon, that the ancients would be absolutely baffled or even disgusted by" was ridiculous, seeing as how even primary school children know that the Greeks and Romans practiced homosexuality quite regularly. I refrained from specifically discussing Egypt because I do not personally know much about the subject, but since you yourself mentioned homosexuality in Rome, specifically in regards to Julius Caesar and Octavian, you made a discussion of such matters fair game. It would be rather like starting a discussion on German actions in WWI, mentioning the Russian Front, then complaing when others brought it up because you wanted to discuss only the Western Front. If you don't wish to discuss a topic, don't discuss it. Don't talk crap when other people also talk about a subject you yourself mentioned in your OP!

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You really suppose i care a fig about engaging in a pissing contest with that sensitive ego of yours 'kid'. Hey dude seriously if you have nothing meaningful to post about the topic, which is Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt and not Rome, maybe you should just not say anything. I have no interest in engaging in some vulgar wrestling match!
Considering the fact that you started the pissing contest with your comment "And my you sound like a defender of Caesar's manhood. What is so unlikely about a Roman being gay--are you serious?" you don't really have the right to complain when I ask you to be a little more respectful in your demeanour. I certainly said nothing to disrespect you prior. And I also posted something very meaningful to the topic, as I already stated above. If you don't want to discuss homosexuality in Rome, maybe you shouldn't bloody mention it in your OP, then repeatedly through the thread. If you only wish to discuss homosexuality in Egypt, with no discussion of surrounding or contemporary cultures, then by all means, don't discuss the surrounding or contemporary cultures. But if you mention them, then others in your threads must be free to discuss them.

Also, you've (unfortunately) proven my original opinion of you correct by acting like a dick when I attempted to laugh off your disrespectful behaviour. In case you didn't notice, I used the 'mischief' () smilie specifically to make light of your previous, dickish behaviour, in the hope that you would recognise a mild reprove. Your response is a return to dickishness. You should note that people on these boards are far less likely to discuss things with you seriously if you behave like a tool on the boards.

I've given you a chance to respond reasonably, but if you continue to not do so and attempt to elevate the pissing contest you yourself began, I'll kindly bow out of wasting my time discussing things with. As, I warn you, will the majority of respondents in the history forum. You'll note that LightSpectra, and NovaKart, whom you seem interested in speaking with, have not returned since you began acting this way, and that Plotinus himself has backed me up in pointing out that the discussion of topics you yourself mentioned in the OP is perfectly legitimate. Feel free to either discuss them or not, but don't behave foolishly in doing so. I admit my use of the 'rolleyes' () smilie in my original post may have been misconstrued as sarcastic - I was using it in response to your failure to provide any sort of source for your claims, which you have now partially remedied - but that in no way excuses your subsequent behaviour.
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