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Hirundo The McGill Journal of Classical Studies Volume XVIII

Founded in 2001, Hirundo accepts essay contributions from undergraduate students at McGill University that relate to the Ancient World. Hirundo is published once annually by the Classics Students' Association of McGill and uses a policy of blind review in selecting papers. It is journal policy that the copyright to the contents of each issue belongs to Hirundo. Essays in either French or English may be submitted to the Editor-in-Chief at: hirundo.history@gmail.com No portion of this journal may be printed without the consent of the editorial board. Š McGill Hirundo 2020


Hirundo Editor-in-Chief

Emma Davidson

Deputy Editor-in-Chief

Daisy Bonsall

Outreach Editor

Matthew Hawkins

Finance Editors

Gabby Oddenino & Cindy Zeng

Editorial Board

Sasha Boghosian Zachary Brookman Kate Gelinas Michael Leger Marie Le Rolland Taylor Meisner Sara Merker Adam Rosengarten Sam Szabo

Faculty Advisor

Darian Totten

Cover Artist Layout Design

Elizabeth Poggie Emma Davidson

Hirundo would like to thank the Dean of Arts Development Fund, the Arts Undergraduate Society, the Classics Students Association, and the Department of History and Classical Studies for their assistance and support in publishing this journal.


Contents Emma Davidson Avery Warkentin

Sara Rahajason Meghan O’Donnell Hannibal De Pencier Neha Rahman Taryn Power Lexie White

Jeffrey Rowe Samuele Langille Marina Martin International Submissions



95 105




19 34 40 47 65 76



Editor’s Preface It is an honour to present to you the eighteenth edition of Hirundo, McGill’s undergraduate research journal for Classical Studies. This journal would not have been possible to put together without the help I received in every step of this process from Daisy Bonsall. I owe tremendous thanks to the dedicated team of editors whose time, hard work, and empathetic contributions are at the heart of this publication. I must also credit McGill’s Department of History and Classics for their constant encouragement of excellent undergraduate work and the great care and enjoyment with which they look to our education. It is because of the dedication and high standards of our professors that this journal is proud to publish exceptional undergraduate research every year. I would also like to thank Marina Martin for her patient guidance and trust in this process, as well as the Classical Students’ Association for their continued support. This year’s volume highlights the diversity of interests, perspectives, and ways of approaching Classics held by McGill undergraduates. You will find that many of the stories held within this volume center around the lives of women, enslaved people, and others whose voices have not always been accessible to those interested in the Ancient Mediterranean. The cover, illustrated by Elizabeth Poggie, depicts a reimagination of the constellation Lyra, faithful companion of Orpheus. As the strumming of his lyre brought Orpheus comfort in solitude, may the stories carried throughout this volume, many of which have sat unsung, bring the Classics into your home. I hope you appreciate the stories that are heard in Hirundo XVIII. Emma Davidson Editor-in-Chief


Reframing Egyptian Mummy Portraits (De)Constructing Identity in Freedmen Funerary Portraiture Avery Warkentin Fayum or mummy portraits are a well-defined category of portraiture which includes around one thousand painted funerary images that come to us from different locales all over Egypt and are dated most commonly between the early first and mid-third centuries CE. The majority of the scholarship on these paintings has typically focused on art-historical questions; academics have been interested in dating via clothing and hairstyles, in isolating specific artists and schools, and in the function of the portraits within contemporary cultic and religious practice.1 As such, much work remains to be done to socially situate these portraits or to understand their function as products of the complex and malleable landscape of imperial Egypt. Focusing initially on two case studies, that of the freedman Eutyches and the grammarian Hermione respectively, this paper will examine mummy portraits as an extension of freedman art which sought to communicate social and cultural capital after death. After a brief overview and history of the portraits themselves, Egyptian mummy portraiture will then be situated as an example of funerary 1 Dominic Montserrat, “The Representation of Young Males in ‘Fayum Portraits’,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 79 (1993): 215.


monumentalization that performed the role of identity-construction. Beginning from the portraits of the freedman Eutyches and the Egyptian woman Hermione, I will argue that Egyptian mummy portraits provided a unique and vital means of self-representation for Egyptian freedmen and their descendants. This paper will use Ward Goodenough’s theory of social personae and Chris Fowler’s concept of mortuary transformation to resituate Egyptian mummy portraits within a longer tradition of mortuary idealization. The analogous complexity of legal status in Roman Egypt will be used as a foundation to demonstrate the need for individuals to affirm their status, wealth, or ethnicity in a constantly changing landscape of legislation. This “flagrant divorce between social reality and juridical categories”2 in Roman Egypt thus encouraged individual self-definition. As such, Egyptian mummy portraits provided an essential opportunity for freedmen to self-assert their identity through the process of funerary transformation in a region that was in constant ethnic and legal flux. Before discussing the mummy portraits themselves, it is pertinent to situate my analysis within the theoretical framework of mortuary practices. Early archaeological analyses used cemeteries, burial mounds, funerary monumentality, and, when present, grave goods to construct cultural, social, or historical interpretations of the deceased individuals. In the 1960s and 1970s however, there was a shift in focus which sought to examine the theoretical bases and analytical methods that informed previous archaeological interpretations. In turn, various subdisciplines of ‘Mortuary Archaeology’ arose in academic communities thus shifting the discipline of archaeology from a processual belief in the objective materiality of archaeological remains towards a post-processual, subjective analysis.3 In my own analysis of artistic funerary practices in Roman Egypt, it is important to emphasize the deeply contextual nature of archaeological inquiry as well as the

2 Susan Walker, “Mummy Portraits and Roman Portraiture,” in Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt. Ed. Susan Walker (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000), 28. 3 Robert Chapman, “Death, Burial, and Social Representation” in Liv Nilsson and Sarah Tarlow (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 1.


inherent subjectivity of the individuals who are commemorated. As Chris Fowler explains, “identities are negotiated relationally and contextually,” yet there remains the issue of how one defines identity, or what aspects of identity one chooses to include in an academic analysis; ethnicity, age, sex, gender, personhood, kinship, wealth, prestige, and rank are all intrinsic to the social identity of an individual.4 The term “social identity” was coined by the sociologist Ward Goodenough to refer to aspects of identity that depended on social relations with others, relations that came with duties and rights.5 In examining the social and relational nature of identity creation, Goodenough acknowledged that each person has numerous social identities, or “social personae,” which are “[t]he composite of several activities selected as appropriate to a given interaction.”6 The fact that these personae must express an intelligible biographical reality and must fit conventional social roles means that archaeological inquiries have often approached mortuary materials and processes as reflecting and affirming social identities constructed in life. However, as Fowler astutely argues, to view mortuary rites as purely affirming pre-existing identities fixed at the point of death is to ignore how social relations and, by extension, the social person are negotiated and transformed repeatedly through mortuary practices and the mortuary process.7 As such, “the meanings assigned to such materials and phenomena are ultimately culturally determined” and thus cannot be understood as self-evidently descriptive.8 Fowler’s thesis reinforces this point as he argues that “mortuary transformations are often important in achieving

4 Chris Fowler, “Identities in Transformation” in Liv Nilsson and Sarah Tarlow (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 1. 5 Ward Goodenough, “Rethinking ‘Status’ and ‘Role’: Towards a General Model of the Cultural Organization of Social Relationships” in M. Blanton (ed.) The Relevance of Models to Social Anthropology (London: Tavistock, 1965), 7. 6 Goodenough, “Rethinking ‘Status’ and ‘Role’,” 7. 7 Fowler, “Identities in Transformation,” 3. 8 Susan Kus, “Death and the Cultural Entanglements of the Experienced, the Learned, the Expressed, the Contested, and the Imagined” in The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial. Ed, Liv Nilsson and Sarah Tarlow, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 9.


an idealized form of existence after death.”9 This theoretical framework informs my analysis of the subsequent portraits which depict transformations in the identities of individuals during the very mortuary process that provides archaeologists with their evidence. Egyptian mummy portraits, in a very literal sense, reflected the individuals they commemorated yet their social function must be analyzed within a constructed mortuary identity. This reality reflects both Goodenough’s theory of social personae and Fowler’s idea of mortuary idealization. Thus, this examination exists at a nexus of archaeological inquiry and is subject to a variety of theoretical frameworks which intersect within the context of funerary commemoration. Egyptian (or Fayum) mummy portraits is the academic term referring to a type of mortuary portraiture common in Roman Egypt, the largest quantities of which come from the Fayum Basin, most notably from Hawar and Antinoopolis. The practice of Roman portraiture was an artistic tradition dating back much farther than the Roman Imperial period. In the Roman Republic, funerary portraits were restricted to the nobility and to the families of serving magistrates. Those portrait masks had an exemplary role; they were intended to instil in younger members of the family group the virtues practised by their ancestors.10 The mummy portraits of Roman Egypt are considered a stylistic evolution of this tradition “though in function they are integral to the preparation of mummies in the last phase of ancient Egyptian cult of the dead.”11 The portraits themselves appear in the middle of the first century and continued to be used for approximately two hundred years, up until the mid third century when the practice slowly fell out of favour. The title of Fayum portraits speaks to their local function, whose use followed the Egyptian funerary tradition of covering the head of the mummified individual represented in the portrait. To this end, “the portraits were painted on wooden panels that were inserted over the mummy wrappings or on linen shrouds that covered the Fowler, “Identities in Transformation,” 1. Walker, “Mummy Portraits and Roman Portraiture,” 23. 11 Kurt Gschwantler, “Graeco-Roman Portraiture” in Susan Walker (ed.) Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000), 21. 9



mummy.”12 Portraits were also painted on plaster heads as plaster became more widely available throughout Egypt. As previously mentioned, many art historical analyses have used the portraits’ hairstyles, clothes, and jewellery to date them. While some stylings speak to local tastes, the general reflection of metropolitan Roman fashion implies that the subjects of the portraits themselves were likely engaged in local administrations on behalf of imperial authorities.13 Such an interpretation predicts my succeeding section on the uniquely malleable landscape of Roman Egypt. Whatever the material and artistic details, the aesthetic purpose of the portrait remained consistent: to serve as a visual record of the deceased as he or she had appeared in life. While these paintings have artistic value, it is also important to acknowledge that these portraits served more than a purely decorative function. Rather, the artistic register of the mummy portraits allowed for their social function to be communicated without words and in situ, revealing the process of identity transformation and construction that occurs in death. The social function of these portraits was intensely multifaceted. The fact that most of the portraits were likely painted while the subject was still alive suggests an active form of artistic commemoration that would have involved more than simply the painter and the subject.14 Thus, community participation in this apparently individualized artistic tradition can also be understood as intrinsic to the process of identity construction; this implies another level of social applicability. Individuals chose to depict themselves in ways that reflected their economic status, ethnic background, political position, or familial connections, a fact which speaks to the social nature of the paintings. Each portrait’s clothing, jewelry, background, decorative elements (i.e. garlands, markers of employment, cups/food), or, in some cases, literary inscriptions, communicated a curated identity to those viewing it. Thus, in order for these portraits to perform the function for which they were created, a reciprocal social

Walker, “Mummy Portraits and Roman Portraiture,” 23. Walker, “Mummy Portraits and Roman Portraiture,” 23. 14 Walker, “Mummy Portraits and Roman Portraiture,” 24. 12 13


exchange was required between the deceased and the viewer who encountered the subject’s portrait post mortem. I turn first to the local context within which both individuals under analysis would have found themselves. Egypt’s complex ethnic history meant that, by the Roman period, equally complicated legal structures were required to define and govern the heterogeneous region. This continued legislative complexity provides a social and political context in which individuals needed a variety of means, including art, to affirm their status, wealth, or ethnicity. To provide a brief overview, in the Ptolemaic system all people were divided into two groups: Hellenes (Greeks) and Egyptians. Hellenic - or “not Egyptian” - status was based on official national origin, and virtually all foreigners qualified as Hellenes. For most purposes, the term meant “immigrant” or “foreign settler”. Already in the Ptolemaic period, ethnicity looked increasingly slippery: “ethnic” categories were neither constant nor clearly defined, but were rather based in fluctuating historical circumstances and forces.15 Official ethnicity in the pre-Roman period moved from representing the national origin of the head of the household to being a heritable status, and from that to being an acquirable status.16 As such, Graeco-Macedonian military settlers, civilians of Greek descent, official Greeks of Egyptian or mixed descent, and Egyptians untouched by the presence of foreigners all coexisted in both rural and urban contexts. The Romans, in response to Egypt’s ethnic malleability, took a different and distinctly legal approach to categorization and control. They maintained a distinction between Greeks and Egyptians but classified Hellenes as a subcategory of Egyptians, not as their opposite. As a result, a distinctly Roman class structure emerged. At the top were holders of Roman citizenship followed by the citizens of three, then four, Greek cities of Egypt: nonRomans, but still citizens. To complicate matters even further, citizens 15 R.S. Bagnall, “The Fayum and its People,” in Susan Walker (ed.) Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000), 27. 16 Jean A. Straus, “Slaves and Slavery in the Roman Period” in Law and Legal Practice in Egypt from Alexander to the Arab Conquest: A Selection of Papyrological Sources in Translation, with Introductions and Commentary. Ed. J. Keenan, J. Manning, and U. YiftachFiranko (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 453.


of Alexandria retained a slightly higher and legally distinct status compared to those of Ptolemais, Naukratis, or Antinoopolis. The final and lowest class in Roman-Egypt included Egyptians, or peregrine non-citizens in Roman terms, hence all inhabitants that existed outside of the two previous categories.17 The composite, contested, relational, and mutable character of ethnicity and legal status in Roman-Egypt is undoubtedly at the root of the complexity in constructing and curating identities via artistic channels such as mummy portraiture. All individuals, whether holders of Roman citizenship, non-Roman citizens, or non-citizens would have been subject to a continually fluctuating regional landscape in which maintaining, or creating, a distinct individual identity was vital in communicating social, political, or economic capital. Freedpeople would have been doubly interested in self-asserting their identity due to their former enslaved status. Mummy portraits thus presented an entirely autonomous opportunity, separate from traditional administrative structures, for individuals to control their own identity. It is no surprise that these identities were often idealized. The complexity of legal status in Roman-Egypt informed the need for individuals to affirm their status, wealth, or ethnicity in a constantly changing landscape of legislative and administrative structures. Two case studies illuminate my analysis of the role that freedpeople played in this process of artistic commemoration. First is the portrait of Eutyches which is now housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The portrait (H 38 cm x W 19cm) depicts a young man in three-quarter view; the young man faces out towards the viewer, looking directly out from the portrait. Scholars have dated the portrait to the first half of the second century CE, however dating remains somewhat contentious as the provenance of the portrait is unknown. The inscription is one of the most interesting in the corpus of portraits as it directly refers to the subject as: Εὐτύχης ἀπελ(εύθεροσ) Κασιανοῦ Ἡρακλειδ [ Εὐανδ(ρο) σεσημ(είωμαι) ], “Eutyches,


Bagnall, “The Fayum and its People,” 28.


freedman of Cassianus Heraclides”.18 The portrait’s artistic details can be read through a lens of mortuary identity construction and social communication. To begin, the inscription itself situates the subject as part of a specific class of freedmen, a fact which would have immediately communicated a variety of political, economic, and social implications to a viewer. The painting appears intensely life-like as incredibly fine brushstrokes create a highly realistic depiction of Eutyches. This constructed realism is notable when compared to the corpus of mummy portraits as a whole since the vast majority of individuals are depicted with much rougher brushwork and far less attention to minute artistic detail. The shining, almost completely smooth, golden skin of Eutyches as well as other details again serve to create a naturalistic delineation of the subject: Eutyches’ hair is a rich dark brown and painted with tiny, wispy strokes; his eyes are ringed with delicate eyelashes and a subtle ring of dark kohl; the left side of his body is softly shadowed and turned slightly away from an external source of light. While all of these details at a basic artistic level served to reflect how Eutyches actually appeared in life, they also simultaneously contributed to Fowler’s idea of funerary identity construction. Thus, such attention to an accurate funerary depiction can be read antithetically as a marker of mortuary idealization. A freedman such as Eutyches would have had an interest in asserting his status, whether social, economic, or political, to the community to which he belonged, especially as someone who was unable to live a long life after manumission. Other details in the portrait further support such an analysis. Eutyches is dressed in a white tunic with a purple clavus draped over his right shoulder. A white mantle sits across his left shoulder under which is 18 Different readings of the Eutyches inscription have proposed slight variations in translations. Translated by Parlasca (1966) as ‘Eutyches, freedman of Cassianus Heraclides’, the text has been altered by Clarysse in Doxiadis (1995) to read ‘Eutyches, freedman of Cassianus, son of Heraclides’. A final alternative reading was proposed by Bagnall and Worp (1981), who suggested the name ‘Evandros’ and the verb ‘signed’. Thus, their translation reads: ‘Eutyches, freedman of Kasianos’, then either ‘son of Herakleides, Evandros’ or ‘Herakleides, son of Evandros’ followed by ‘I signed’. Regardless of the nuances of translation, the most important piece of information to my own investigation, ἀπελ(εύθεροσ), remains consistent.


written the three lines of Greek text. The choice of clothing, the augusticlavia, reinforces an idealized identity. The purple clavus, in Roman tradition, served to indicate a social status above regular citizenry but below senators and magistrates.19 The exact contemporaneous function of such dress in Roman Egypt is not as important as the fact that it communicated a specific kind of Roman identity, one linked to political participation and elite status. Additionally, the presence of text itself could suggest a certain level of education, another marker of eliteness or community integration. All of these artistic features were thus chances for Eutyches, a freedman, to assert an idealized form of his own identity via an intensely malleable form of artistic commemoration. A further potential example of freedmen mummy portrait commemoration appears in the portrait of a woman whose name and profession is inscribed onto her portrait. Discovered and excavated by Flinders Petrie in 1910-11 at Hawara, the portrait of Hermione Grammatike now resides in Girton College, Cambridge. The portrait (H 30.5 x W 21 cm), which is dated to the early first century CE, is set among intricate bandages of the highest quality linen which are wound in layers in a rhomboid pattern. To the left of Hermione’s neck reads the inscription: Ἑρμιόνη γραμματική, ‘Hermione, Grammatike’. Unusually, this inscription provides both the name and profession of the subject in question. Various interpretations of the Grammatike inscription have provided a myriad of possibilities concerning the position, status, and ethnicity of the woman Hermione, all dependent on various translations of the mysterious Greek word γραμματική.20 However, for this analysis, I have chosen to proceed via Dominic Montserrat’s reading of the inscription as one depicting a wealthy freedwoman whose employment was that of a grammarian or

19 Norma Goldman, “Reconstructing Roman Clothing” in The World of Roman Costume. Ed. Judith Lynn Sebesta and Larissa Bonfante, (Cambridge: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001), 221. 20 According to Montserrat (1997), this term has been translated variously as ‘teacher’, ‘teacher of the classics’, ‘'instructor in the rudiments’, ‘reader in the Classics’, ‘lady’, ‘secretary’ and ‘literate’.


teacher.21 This interpretation is based on the context of discovery. The painting style is much less detailed than that of Eutyches. Hermione is depicted in a close-set view with only the edges of a light-coloured tunic top visible above the bottom portrait edge. She wears large, rounded earrings and her dark hair is drawn away from her face and parted down the middle of her scalp. These details, together with the portrait’s inscription, can be viewed as attempts to delineate and curate a form of idealized identity that would be immortalized and communicated after death. Just as with the portrait of Eutyches, Hermione’s artistic features communicate a lifelike reality which, while providing a sense of authenticity, also serve to reinforce a selfasserted identity. Unfortunately, the preservation of Hermione’s portrait is significantly poorer than that of Eutyches. Nevertheless, Walker suggests that her clothing and jewelry follow patterns of elite Roman dress and display, thus placing Hermione’s depiction within a similar visual lexicon of Roman aristocracy.22 The most important marker, however, of freedperson self-delineation remains the inscription itself; Hermione most likely chose to include her profession on her funerary portrait, thus personally creating a narrative of identity. The gendered dynamic of Hermione’s portrait adds yet another layer of meaning to such a choice. Hermione’s identity as a woman would have shaped her experience as a slave, freedwoman, and grammarian. In navigating these varied systems of oppression, the creation of a personal identity could have presented a vital form of selfpreservation for someone who existed at the nexus of multiple systems of alienation. In asserting her position of employment alongside traditional artistic elements in her funerary portrait, Hermione was able to curate an individual identity that transcended 21 Montserrat (1997) discusses that the portrait of Hermione was found together with the portrait of a man with the inscribed name Heron. As such, an analogous analysis of both portraits provides the potential of their freedperson status. Hermione and Heron’s names are both religious (they are named after gods) and appear in a singular form on their respective inscriptions. While there may be other reasons for this choice of inscriptional commemoration (limited space, difficulty of writing), these naming patterns follow those of slaves and, subsequently, freedmen, who frequently only had a single name, often adjectival (Felix) or religious (Hermione, Heron). 22 Walker, “Mummy Portraits and Roman Portraiture,” 25.


systems of legal, patriarchal, and political oppression. This idealized reality would have been communicated to viewers within the context of a malleable landscape of political and social competition. These two case studies provide an intensely focused analysis concerning the potential of freedperson identity construction. Such an analysis is naturally constrained by the limited quantity of mummy portraits. It is also limited by the general lack of inscriptions that would indicate freedperson status as other artistic or visual markers are essentially nonexistent. This means that while we do not have any other inscriptional evidence confirming the freedperson status of other subjects in Egyptian mummy portraits, the existence of the Eutyches and Hermione portraits suggests the possibility that many of the other individuals in these portraits may also have been freedpeople. Thus, the desire of such freedpeople to self-assert and curate a specific kind of identity via mummy portraits could have much wider implications. Economically, the mere ability to pay for a portrait would have been an immediate marker of economic and social status within a community. Demographically, mummy portraits are almost evenly split across gender and depict a wide variety of ages, the majority being somewhat middle aged, 30-50 years old, as reflects general life expectancy trends of the time.23 The variety in subjectivity further reinforces the social role that these portraits performed: a vastly varied contingent of a diverse population was equally interested in using this specific form of mortuary commemoration in order to curate a distinct identity in death. The personal artistic details as well as demographic and economic factors suggest a distinct desire for individuals, whether freedpeople or elite citizens, to use art as a means of identity construction. If this desire can be understood as foundational to the creation of Egyptian mummy portraits as a whole, the added dimension of freedperson status would suggest an even greater need to construct an idealized funerary identity. To frame this specific reexamination of mummy portraiture, I turn first to Orlando Patterson’s analysis of natal alienation and slavery. 23 Euphrosyne Doxiadis, The Mysterious Fayum Portraits. Faces from Ancient Egypt, (London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1995), 36.


Patterson posits that slavery was not only an economic or legal status, but also a social one as the slave, “alienated from all ‘rights’ or claims of birth, ceased to belong in his own right to any legitimate social order.”24 Slaves were innately socially separate from their free counterparts in that they were not allowed freely to integrate the experience of their ancestors into their lives or to anchor their living present in any conscious community of memory. Legitimate, binding markers of status, family, or community were necessarily absent from the social relations of slaves.25 The loss of ties of birth, the alienation from all formal enforceable ties of “blood,” and from any attachment to groups or localities other than those chosen for him by the master inevitably led to profound emotional and social implications.26 This foundational function of natal alienation in Roman slavery suggests a system in which freedpeople, after manumission, would have had a profound desire to reassert their legality and identity in whatever means were available to them, if only to affirm their newfound status as not slaves. This desire was often manifested via physical commemorations, of which mummy portraits are one example. In the context of Roman Egypt, freedperson mummy portraits can be understood as responding directly to the deracination that slavery brought about. Not only was the fluctuating legal and ethnic landscape of Egypt intrinsic to this kind of identity construction, but Egyptian funerary traditions themselves reinforced art as a means of social communication. Thus, the artistic variables of each mummy portrait presented an opportunity for the deceased to construct a visual identity that communicated social and cultural capital. These variables included, most obviously, hairstyles, jewelry, and clothing. However, more subtle choices of framing, painting style, and additional elements all equally contributed to the process of mortuary transformation and idealization. In the case studies of Hermione and Eutyches, elements of elite culture were immediately visible via clothing and jewelry while 24 Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982), 5. 25 Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, 5-6. 26 Patterson, Slavery and Social Death, 6.


inscriptions provided a distinct insight into an individual conception of self. Lauren Hackworth-Peterson suggests that in order to understand freedmen art one must take into consideration the contemporary audience(s) for each monument and shift the perspective from one that privileges only elite ideals to one that prioritizes features that would have commanded a viewer’s attention and thus communicated something about the social identity of the individual(s) who paid for it.27 Hackworth-Peterson’s proposed shift is intrinsic to what this paper proposes: rather than understanding Egyptian mummy portraits as merely artistic indicators of elite expenditure and funerary investment, the cases of Eutyches and Hermione suggest that mummy portraiture served a distinctly social function. Portraits presented an immediate opportunity for marginalized individuals such as freedpeople to construct and communicate an incredibly basic element of political, cultural, and social life: identity. However, identity construction postmortem was “not usually concerned with (or capable of) materially representing the entire biographical identity of the deceased in a totalized singular form. Rather, funerary monumentalization commemorate[d] the deceased person while drawing on idealized, desired identities.”28 In the case of mummy portraits, individuals, including freedpeople such as Eutyches and Hermione, sought to construct idealized identities that placed them within traditional Roman artistic structures, structures which in mummy portraiture communicated social and cultural capital in a highly competitive and malleable atmosphere.29 Even as precise distinctions in status remain difficult to ascertain in the absence of formal status indicators, the individuals depicted in my two case studies and, by extension, other freedpeople sought recognition via their own self-delineated and idealized mortuary identity.

27 Lauren Hackworth-Peterson, The Freedman in Roman Art and Art History, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 228. 28 Fowler, “Identities in Transformation,” 14. 29 Hackworth-Peterson, The Freedman in Roman Art and Art History, 228.


Artistic delineations of freedperson identity were not limited to portraiture but can rather be found in a variety of contexts, including literary. Petronius’ Satyricon provides such an example: as Encolpius, the work’s protagonist, steps into the home of the wealthy freedman Trimalchio, he is amazed at the mural painted on the wall of the entrance hall. The mural depicts “a slave-market, price-tags and all. Then Trimalchio himself, holding a wand of Mercury and being led into Rome by Minerva. After this a picture of how he learned accounting and, finally, how he became a steward. The painstaking artist had drawn it all in great detail with descriptions underneath” (Petron. Sat. 29). This description of one freedman’s decorative self-delineation noticeably reflects many of the elements of mortuary idealization that Egyptian mummy portraits suggest. Trimalchio, in his own home, commissioned a piece of decorative art in which he himself is the subject and in which his identity is satirically idealized. While this example is part of a larger comedic commentary, its existence reinforces an understanding of freedperson art which prioritizes a process of self-definition and identity curation. Mummy portraits, just like Trimalchio’s mural, were incredibly effective at conveying an individual sense of social and cultural identity through their use of a widely understood and accepted visual register. These idealized identities communicated to the viewers who observed them a distinct sense of self. Furthermore, in the particular case of freedpeople, a constructed sense of self would have been incredibly valuable in response to the intrinsic alienation of their previous position as slaves. Freedmen constituted a separate collective identity that, in many ways, required much more conscious forms of memorialization. Physical freedperson commemorations, whether portraits, inscriptions, murals, or monuments were the result of individual initiatives and personal motives that may not have been uniformly shared by all members of society.30 Consequently, “there was no single unified field of competition, but many separate, localized fields,

30 Henrik Mouritsen, “Freedmen and Decurions: Epitaphs and Social History in Imperial Italy,” The Journal of Roman Studies 95 (2005): 38.


which each developed their own conventions.”31 In the case of Roman Egypt, funerary mummy portraiture represented a vital means of personal self-definition for freedmen. As such, the localized, competitive, and highly malleable landscape of Roman Egypt in the early centuries CE is intrinsic to this paper’s artistic analysis. Freedpeople such as Hermione and Eutyches actively sought to assert their identity through the process of mortuary transformation. As such, mummy portraits performed a specific funerary function while also serving as a physical marker of social status, community participation, and self-delineated identity. While no commemorative practice was universal - throughout the Empire, or even within a region or a single community - the corpus of Egyptian mummy portraits allows for a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which freedpeople sought to communicate and construct identity in the ancient world.32

31 32

Mouritsen, “Freedmen and Decurions,” 63. Mouritsen, “Freedmen and Decurions,” 62-3.


Bibliography Ancient Faces: Mummy Portraits from Roman Egypt. Edited by Susan Walker. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000. Bagnall, R.S. and K.A. Worp. “Three Papyri from Fourth Century Karani.,” Bulletin of the Egyptological Seminar 3 (1981): 24755. Chapman, Robert. “Death, Burial, and Social Representation.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial. Edited by Liv Nilsson and Sarah Tarlow. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Doxiadis, Euphrosyne. The Mysterious Fayum Portraits. Faces from Ancient Egypt. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd, 1995. Fowler, Chris. “Identities in Transformation.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial. Edited by Liv Nilsson and Sarah Tarlow. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Goldman, Norma. “Reconstructing Roman Clothing.” In The World of Roman Costume. Edited by Judith Lynn Sebesta and Larissa Bonfante. Cambridge: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001. Goodenough, Ward. “Rethinking ‘Status’ and ‘Role’: Towards a General Model of the Cultural Organization of Social Relationships.” In The Relevance of Models to Social Anthropology. Edited by M. Blanton. London: Tavistock, 1965. Hackworth-Peterson, Lauren. The Freedman in Roman Art and Art History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Kus, Susan. “Death and the Cultural Entanglements of the Experienced, the Learned, the Expressed, the Contested, and the Imagined.” In The Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of Death and Burial. Edited by Liv Nilsson and Sarah Tarlow. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. Montserrat, Dominic. “Heron ‘bearer of Philosophia’ and Hermione Grammatike.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 83 (1997): 223-226. Montserrat, Dominic. “The Representation of Young Males in ‘Fayum Portraits’.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 79 (1993):


215-225. Mouritsen, Henrik. “Freedmen and Decurions: Epitaphs and Social History in Imperial Italy.” The Journal of Roman Studies 95 (2005): 38-63. Parlasca, Klaus. Mumienporträts und verwandte Denkmäler (Wiesbaden: Steiner, 1966). Patterson, Orlando. Slavery and Social Death. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982. Straus, Jean A. “Slaves and Slavery in the Roman Period.” In Law and Legal Practice in Egypt from Alexander to the Arab Conquest: A Selection of Papyrological Sources in Translation, with Introductions and Commentary. Edited by J. Keenan, J. Manning, and U. Yiftach-Firanko. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014.



1 (Right) Portrait of the Boy Eutyches. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 2 (Left) Hermione Grammatike. Girton College, Cambridge.


Nature and the Body Form and Function of Simile in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura Sara Rahajason Lucretius uses many similes throughout the entire De Rerum Natura. Lucretius’ Greek poetic predecessors, namely Homer, used simile as a way to adorn their poems, to add to the richness of the imagery, and to help set a clearer scene for the events of the narrative. Despite the beauty they bring to the story, simile in Homer “is irrelevant, for it could be removed without disturbing the main purpose of the Odyssey.”1 In Lucretius’ didactic poem De Rerum Natura, simile takes on a purely functional role with its purpose being one and the same as that of the poem itself: to be a teaching tool facilitating the communication and comprehension of intangible, invisible, and complex ideas about universe, like the movements and compositions of invisible bodies. Lucretius creates images for a breadth of ideas with simile throughout the De Rerum Natura, “drawn from the realms of history, philology, nature, medicine, daily life, and physical phenomena.”2 He uses physical analogies in his similes to more clearly illustrate to the listener or reader these intangible concepts, most commonly analogies with the natural world and the human body. I will argue that there is proximity and even unity in purpose, that is to teach and elucidate bodies and concepts that are complex and caeca, between similes of 1 Rosalie C. Hohler, Lucretius’ Use of Simile, (The Classical Association of the Middle West and South, Inc., 1926), 281. 2 Hohler, Lucretius’ Use of Simile, 282.


the body and those of nature in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura. However these two types of similes are constructed differently: the correspondences in similes of nature are structured in a linear way, while those of the body are constructed around parallel analogies. The connection and unity of purpose between similes about the human body and those about nature can be simply stated: they both serve to illustrate more clearly to the reader, through physical analogy, intangible ideas like life, soul, mind, senses, and the elements. Similes in poetry are constructed around four basic elements according to David Fishelov: the tenor,3 “the thing about which the speaker is speaking and about which he wishes to say something;” the vehicle, “the image brought into the discussion because of its being analogous to [the tenor];” the simile marker,4 “some sort of explicit marker that directs us to construct analogies (or “metaphorical” relations) between [the tenor and the vehicle];” and the ground, “the aspect(s) shared by [tenor and vehicle], that is, the basis of the analogy between tenor and vehicle, usually in the form of a predicate.”5 To unify all of his similes for one purpose, Lucretius takes these four basic elements of the simile and turns nature and parts of human physiology into vessels, or containers, of invisible and intangible things. At 6.102-107, Lucretius writes: praeterea neque tam condenso corpore nubes esse queunt quam sunt lapides ac ligna, neque autem tam tenues quam sunt nebulae fumique uolantes; nam cadere aut bruto deberent pondere pressae ut lapides, aut ut fumus constare nequirent nec cohibere niues gelidas et grandinis imbris.6 Moreover, the clouds cannot be of so dense a body as are stocks and stones, nor yet so thin as are mists and flying smoke. For either they were bound to fall

3 Fishelov uses the term “topic” rather than “tenor” in his article “Poetic and Non-Poetic Simile: Structure, Semantics, Rhetoric”, but I will be favoring the term “tenor” as I find that it more firmly establishes its subordinate position in relation to the vehicle in the simile. 4 Passages containing the simile markers ut, velut, veluti, and quasi were considered for the purposes of this essay. 5 David Fishelov, Poetic and Non-Poetic Simile: Structure, Semantics, Rhetoric, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1993), 5. 6 Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929) 217-218.


dragged down by their dead weight, as do stones, or like smoke they could not hold together or keep within them chill snow and showers of hail.7

The clouds in this simile, or rather the density of the clouds, stand as the tenor (the thing being explained), while the mists, smoke, stocks, and stones are the vehicles (the things explaining the tenor). The very idea of the densities of things and the composition of clouds is rather abstract, as there is nothing that one might interact with that shares many qualities with the tenor in question. In his explanation of the composition and density of clouds, something that can, for the most part, only be observed from a distance, Lucretius invokes the images of things that exist within the realm of human experience which are tangible to the reader, like lapides ac ligna, and nebulae fumique uolantes (Lucr.6.103-104). Smoke and mist are easily analogized with clouds because of their similar qualities: they are neither solid nor liquid, but can clearly be seen and displaced by winds. However, the nubes themselves must be more dense than mist and smoke because they have the ability to cohibere, to hold together, or to contain.8 Myrto Garani argues in his book Empedocles Redivivus: Poetry and Analogy in Lucretius that, “Lucretius himself applies to his similes the Empedoclean method of observing the behaviour of a root within a palpable container in order to draw conclusions about its analogous behaviour within a container into which we could not penetrate except by analogy and projection.”9 Lucretius uses the technique of characterizing concrete and observable things as being containers throughout the De Rerum Natura in both similes about nature and human physiology, though perhaps not always with such an explicit choice of vocabulary than his use of cohibere at 6.107.

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, (London: Oxford University Press, 1910), 238. Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary, 3rd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), s.v. “Cohibere.” 9 Myrto Garani, Empedocles Redivius: Poetry and Analogy in Lucretius, (New York: Routledge, 2006) 121. 7 8


Parts of nature, as well as nature herself, through simile, are given the qualities of a container for the purpose of more clearly conveying difficult concepts. For example at 5.783-789: Principio genus herbarum uiridemque nitorem terra dedit circum collis camposque per omnis, florida fulserunt uiridanti prata colore, arboribusque datumst uariis exinde per auras crescendi magnum inmissis certamen habenis. ut pluma atque pili primum saetaeque creantur quadripedum membris et corpore pennipotentum. “First of all the earth gave birth to the tribes of herbage and bright verdure all around the hills and over all the plains, the flowering fields gleamed in their green hue, and thereafter the diverse trees were started with loose rein on their great race of growing through the air. Just as down and hair and bristles are first created on the limbs of four-footed beasts and the body of fowls strong of wing, so then the newborn earth raised up herbage and shrubs first, and thereafter produced the races of mortal things, many races born in many ways by diverse means.10

In this simile, the tenor is the act of the earth giving birth to the races of plants and trees, and by extension, life, which has sprouted forth on its surface. This idea is clarified through the vehicle of the pluma atque pili which emerge on the limbs of animals. The image of fur coming forth from the skin would compel the reader to visualize the idea of a root contained within the very body from which it grew; the body contains the roots of hair, which is why it is able to be born onto the skin. This a process we cannot see, but can be easily grasped by the pupil as it is a process that happens to human beings. Thus, it is an effective vehicle for explaining the idea of something as intangible as life coming forth from the earth. These ideas are further explored shortly afterward in another simile at 5.826-7: sed quia finem aliquam pariendi debet habere, destitit, ut mulier spatio defessa uetusto.� “But because she must needs come to some end of childbearing, she ceased, like, a woman worn with the lapse of age.11

10 11

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 212. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 213.


In this simile both the human body and nature are given the quality of containing certain roots, while maintaining the same fundamental purpose, that is, to make abstract concepts more clear in the minds of the reader. The subject here of destitit is terra, mentioned in the preceding lines. Again, like in 5.783-789, terra is at the limit of its ability to generate new life. This means that, at a certain point, terra contained life before bringing it forth like a woman giving birth. The idea of the earth containing life is the tenor needing further explanation. The earth is being personified through the action of giving birth, and the feeling of being exhausted from that action could also be considered a tenor in the simile. Lucretius likens the earth to a mulier defessa because it is an experience that is within the realm of human reality, and because it once again encourages the reader to compare nature itself and human physiology: the womb inside the body of a woman. The womb is a vessel of human life, just as the earth is a vessel of plant and animal life. So, in this simile, a womanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s physiology and her womb are containers, serving as the vehicle to explain the generative qualities of the earth, as well as making more palpable the idea of the earth as a container of life. Lucretius extends this technique to similes exclusively about the human body, with the goal once again of taking intangible and invisible things and making them more easily understood by the reader. A notable example comes from 3.548-557: Et quoniam mens est hominis pars una, loco quae fixa manet certo, uelut aures atque oculi sunt atque alii sensus qui uitam cumque gubernant, et ueluti manus atque oculus naresue seorsum secreta ab nobis nequeunt sentire neque esse, sed tamen in paruo licuntur tempore tabi, sic animus per se non quit sine corpore et ipso esse homine, illius quasi quod uas <es>se uidetur siue aliud quid uis potius coniunctius ei fingere, quandoquidem conexu corpus adhaeret. And since the mind is one part of man, which abides mind, like rooted in a place determined, just as are ears and eyes any other organs of sense which guide the helm of life; and, just as hand and eye or nostrils, sundered without apart from us, cannot feel nor be, but


in fact are in a short time melted in corruption, so the mind cannot exist by itself without the body and the very man, who seems to be, as it were, the vessel of the mind, or aught else you like to picture more closely bound to it, inasmuch as the body clings to it with binding ties.12

The human body, in this simile, is a container for the abstract concepts of the mens and the senses. Lucretius says so explicitly by naming the body the vas, or vessel, of the mind. In this case, the tenor is the connection between the mens and the body of man, which is not tangible. The vehicle to explain this connection is the relationship between the sense organs (manus, oculus, nares) and the senses themselves. The vehicle is itself invisible and intangible, but it “emphasizes the homogeneity between different levels of reality and prepares the pupil to envision better and more persuasively the invisible vehicle.”13 Lucretius composed his similes of nature and of the body so that the elements of the tenor and the vehicle can be analogized with containers, with the goal of inducing a more vivid understanding of invisible things. Thus it can be inferred that there is a unity of purpose between similes of nature and similes of the body. Though there is a unity of purpose between similes of nature and those of the body, the two show differences in construction. At their core, Lucretius’ similes are all constructed around the “basic semantic components” of comparing concrete with immaterial, tangible with intangible, familiar with abstract.14 However, few remain that simple as he adds layers of comparison to create complex and “multidimensional” similes. Garani observes that “[at] first glance, Lucretius’ multi-dimensional simile seems to violate the principle of clarity,” but clarity is the crux of the simile’s purpose, and Lucretius constructed his similes with that goal firmly in mind.15 Garani goes on to explain that Lucretius uses “multiple-correspondences” in his similes by drawing numerous connections “between the two parts of a simile in a Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 124. Garani, Empedocles Redivivus, 107. 14 Fishelov, Poetic and Non-Poetic Simile, 13. 15 Garani, Empedocles Redivivus, 104. 12 13


consistent way in order to improve the structure of the simile,â&#x20AC;? to reinforce the unity between the tenor and vehicle.16 Though he certainly uses multiple-correspondences in all of his similes, it can be argued further by introducing several vehicles that Lucretius constructs his nature similes with multiple linear correspondences, and his similes of the body with multiple parallel correspondences. Lucretiusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; nature similes connect caeci motus with movements of elements one can see or feel. He constructs his similes of nature so that each level of comparison can be mapped in a straight line, giving the first vehicle its own second vehicle, effectively turning it into a tenor. This dual role of a vehicle can be seen in 1.277-286: sunt igitur uenti nimirum corpora caeca quae mare, quae terras, quae denique nubila caeli uerrunt ac subito uexantia turbine raptant. nec ratione fluunt alia stragemque propagant et cum mollis aquae fertur natura repente flumine abundanti, quom largis imbribus urget montibus ex altis magnus decursus aquai, fragmina coniciens siluarum arbustaque tota. nec ualidi possunt pontes uenientis aquai uim subitam tolerare. There are therefore, we may be sure, unseen bodies of wind, which sweep sea and land, yea, and the clouds of heaven, and tear and harry them with sudden hurricane; they stream on and spread havoc in no other way than [just as] when the soft nature of water is borne on in a flood o'erflowing in a moment, swollen by a great rush of water dashing down from the high mountains after bounteous rains and hurling together broken branches from the woods, and whole trees too; nor can the strong bridges bear up against the sudden force of the advancing flood.17

Here, the venti corpora caeca are analogous to different corpora quae non videantur, that is, those rerum primordia (Lucr. 1.268). We are to understand here that wind, though it is soft and invisible, can have devastating, destructive, and very real consequences when it comes in sudden large quantities, meaning that it must be corporeal in some way. This explains the idea of how we perceive invisible things like heat, cold, smell, and noise, though they are invisible as well. Lucretius then adds another layer to the simile to explain the corporeality of wind, itself being the first vehicle in the simile to explain the necessary 16 17

Garani, Empedocles Redivivus, 106. Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 36.


corporeality of invisible primordial things, which he explained earlier in verses 1.268-270: quod nequeunt oculis rerum primordia cerni, accipe praeterea quae corpora tute necessest confiteare esse in rebus nec posse videri. because the first beginnings of things cannot be described with the eyes, let me tell you besides of other bodies, which you must needs confess yourself are among things and yet cannot be seen,18

Lucretius uses water, an element that is easily analogous to wind because of its mollis natura, and because of its transparency; the comparison of water with wind would not be so difficult for the pupil to imagine. Water, just like wind, is both soft but devastating in a sudden onslaught, and one can see the effects of water as well as the water itself, whereas one can see and feel only the effects of wind. Though Lucretius describes the caeca corpora of the things perceived by the senses a few lines after his simile about the winds and water at 1.29830, the three layers of comparison are meant to be mapped by the mind of the pupil in a linear fashion: varios odores, calidos aestus, frigora, voces (tenor); ventus (first vehicle and tenor); aqua (second vehicle). Lucretius, at 6.108-115, constructs another simile of nature in this way in the final book of the poem, where he describes the sounds that accompany strong winds and thunder: dant etiam sonitum patuli super aequora mundi, carbasus ut condam magnis intenta theatris dat crepitum malos inter iactata trabesque, interdum perscissa furit petulantibus auris et fragilis sonitus chartarum commeditatur. (id quoque enim genus in tonitru cognoscere possis, aut ubi suspensam uestem chartasque uolantis uerberibus uenti uersant planguntque per auras.) Again, they give forth a sound over the levels of the spreading firmament, as often an awning stretched over a great theatre gives a crack, as it tosses among the posts and beams; sometimes, too, it rages madly, rent by the boisterous breezes, and imitates the rending noise of sheets of paper â&#x20AC;&#x201C; for that kind of sound too you may


Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 36.


recognize in the thunder – or else a sound as when the winds buffet with their blows and beat through the air a hanging garment or flying papers.19

The kernel of this simile is the relationship between the movement of wind and thunder and the sounds that come with the strength of that movement: this is to be understood as the tenor. The tenor here adds a layer of complication because it is not a particular natural phenomenon, but rather the relationship between certain phenomena and their immediate effects, leaving the reader to infer what the actual tenor might be. This “violation of the principle of explicitness [of the tenor] does not necessarily entail unintelligibility,” and it certainly does not in this case due to Lucretius’ linear construction of the simile.20 To explain this tenor, which is not explicitly stated, Lucretius introduces the first vehicle of the carbasus and the sound it makes when snapping in the wind, which the pupil could draw to mind very vividly. The first vehicle itself is twofold, providing an analogy for both to the sound of thunder, as well as to a common and tangible effect of the invisible force of strong winds. The second vehicle branches off in two prongs from the first vehicle, making the first vehicle itself a tenor: one branch corresponds to the movement aspect of the carbasus, the other corresponds to the sound aspect.21 He analogizes the aspect of the movement of the carbasus with the movement of the suspensam vestem and the chartas volantis, and connects the sound aspect of the snapping linen with the sound of paper being torn apart, with the verb commeditatur (Lucr.6.109-112).22 These connections would be linearly arranged in the mind of the pupil, all pointing back to the ultimate purpose of Lucretius’ similes in the De Rerum Natura: to “[imply] a perception of kinship in objects not normally recognized as

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 238. Fishelov, Poetic and Non-Poetic Simile, 7. 21 See Appendix A. 22 Commeditatur (from the verb commeditor, commeditari) is a very interesting choice of verb for this analogy because it takes on a dual meaning: it could mean “to sound like,” making it a verbal marker of simile, or it could be “to impress carefully on one's mind,” which could be interpreted as a subtle poetic nod toward the very purpose of the use of simile, and that of De Rerum Natura at large. (A Latin Dictionary, 3rd ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879), s.v. “Commeditor.”). 19 20


akin.”23 The linear arrangement of similes of nature take on an argumentative tone because they are meant to draw a link through multiple steps between things that are outside of the realm of human experience with things that are familiar. The tenors are just out of reach of the human imagination, and Lucretius, in constructing his nature similes, in this way acts as a guide through his arguments, untangling abstract ideas and setting up a linear path for the pupil to follow. Similes of the body are as “multi-dimensional” as similes of nature, but they are not constructed as linear “[chains] of analogical proofs.”24 Rather, similes of the body are built around multiple parallel comparisons, each with two pairs of connected elements. In similes of nature, Lucretius tries to guide his reader through consecutive vehicles from something far from human experience and perception, toward something more familiar in order to impart his lessons on the nature of things. In his similes of the body, he has no need to present concepts that are outside of human experience, because the similes are either about human experience itself, or they seek to explain the invisible links and functions of the human body. Abstract concepts about the movements and forces of the universe cannot be brought any closer to what is recognizable and familiar to the reader: one cannot get any closer to the reality of humans than the very body in which they live. The parallel analogies in similes of the body are instances “in which the straightforward comparison between the tenor and the vehicle is contaminated by the intrusion of a supplementary level of comparison.”25 For example in 3.558-565: Denique corporis atque animi uiuata potestas inter se coniuncta ualent uitaque fruuntur; nec sine corpore enim uitalis edere motus sola potest animi per se natura nec autem cassum anima corpus durare et sensibus uti. scilicet auolsus radicibus ut nequit ullam dispicere ipse oculus rem seorsum corpore toto, sic anima atque animus per se nil posse uidetur. 23 Stella R. Pope, The Imagery of Lucretius, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1949) 71. 24 Garani, Empedocles Redivivus, 117. 25 Garani, Empedocles Redivivus, 101.


Again, the living powers of body and mind prevail by union, one with the other, and so enjoy life; for neither without body can the nature of mind by itself alone produce the motions of life, nor yet bereft of soul can body last on and feel sensation. We must know that just as the eye by itself, if torn out by the roots, cannot discern anything apart from the whole body, so, it is clear, soul and mind by themselves have no power.26

This simile is working on multiple levels: the oculus is a container for the ability to dispicere, and the corpus contains the anima atque animus. Each container and its contents can be grouped into two pairs (body with mind and soul, eye with eyesight).27 Highlighted in the simile is the mutual dependence between the body and the mind and soul: this is the first pair. The mind and soul are what give life to the body, and the body contains the mind and soul (inter se coniuncta). The link between the elements of the first pair is the primary tenor governing the simile, though not explicitly stated. According to Ziva Ben-Poratâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s article, even without an explicitly stated tenor, â&#x20AC;&#x153;[an] interpreter will recognize a simile even when one of the basic elements is not expressed in an utterance.â&#x20AC;?28 To explain the connection between the first pair (anima and animus and uitalis motus with corpus), Lucretius establishes a second pair: oculus, and the sense of sight. The invisible link between the elements in the second pair is the primary vehicle explaining the primary tenor from the first pair. The second pair analogizes the invisible link in the first pair, and its elements analogize the two corresponding elements of the first pair. The pupil is meant to understand that the anima and the animus are unable to survive in themselves without their container (corpus) in the same way as the ability to dispicere cannot survive if the eye is torn out by the roots (auolsus radicibus). The eye in the second pair is the first subordinate vehicle of the simile, and is meant to analogize the body (first subtenor); the ability to dispicere contained by the eye is the second subordinate vehicle analogizing the mind and soul (second sub-tenor). Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 124. See Appendix B. 28 Ben-Porat, Poetics of the Homeric Simile and the Theory of (Poetic) Simile (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992), 742. 26 27


This same construction can be mapped onto another simile at 3.459562: Huc accedit uti uideamus, corpus ut ipsum suscipere inmanis morbos durumque dolorem, sic animum curas acris luctumque metumque ; quare participem leti quoque conuenit esse. Then follows this that we see that, just as the body itself suffers wasting diseases and poignant pain, so the mind too has its biting cares and grief and fear; wherefore it is natural that it should also share in death.29

The tenor here is the experience of pain and suffering, thus the first pair is corpus and inmanis morbos dururmque dolorem because the simile is meant to describe the invisible link between each element of the pair. The second pair must be animum with curas acris luctumque metumque. In the same way as in the previous example from 3.558565, one element of the second pair analogizes its corresponding element in the first pair; the mind is the vehicle for the body, and the cares and fears analogize the pain and suffering.30 This type of construction for a simile can be characterized as being parallel because the elements of each pair can be mapped schematically in the same way. Perhaps one of the most famous similes from the De Rerum Natura portrays a scene from everyday life â&#x20AC;&#x153;which shows Lucretius' keen observation of human life is that of a physician giving a child bitter medicine.â&#x20AC;? Appearing at 1.936-42, this simile illustrates the very purpose of his poem: sed ueluti pueris absinthia taetra medentes cum dare conantur, prius oras pocula circum contingunt mellis dulci flauoque liquore, ut puerorum aetas inprovida ludificetur labrorum tenus, interea perpotet amarum absinthi laticem deceptaque non capiatur, sed potius tali pacto recreata ualescat;

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 121. Other such examples of similes of the body can be found in 1.1038-43, 2.194-195, and 3.403-412. 29 30


For that too is seen to be not without good reason; but even as healers, when they essay to give loathsome wormwood to children, first touch the rim all round the cup with the sweet golden moisture of honey, so that the unwitting age of children may be beguiled as far as the lips, and meanwhile may drink the bitter draught of wormwood, and though charmed may not be harmed, but rather by such means may be restored and come to health;31

Just as the poem itself can be understood as the honey with which Lucretius, like the physician, introduces bitter and unpleasant teachings to his pupils, so too are the similes within the poem: they make those unpleasant lessons easier for the pupil to swallow. This simile, though neither about the natural world nor about the human body, serves as a sign post for all other similes to come: though Lucretius is using epic form and meter to express in a more palatable way his Epicurean ideals, the purpose of his poem is entirely didactic, and so are his similes. Insofar as creating analogical imagery, Lucretius’ similes “[bear] the function of Homeric simile.”32 However, the purpose of Homeric simile is to adorn and add richness to the images of the story through analogy, while on the other hand “Lucretius subordinates the decorative function of his similes to the purpose of aiding his readers in grasping the outlines of the great Epicurean universe” equally in relation to nature and to the body.33 In both similes of the body and nature, vehicles are turned into containers for the caeca things, shortening the analogical gap between the ideas which are being imparted through comparison. In terms of construction, similes of nature are presented in linear “chains” of correspondences of res sharing certain qualities to call to more easily call to mind the desired images. Similes of the body present analogies in parallel pairs. Thus, there is a strong unity of purpose but difference in construction in the similes in Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura.

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, 58. Garani, Empedocles Redivivus, 98. 33 Hohler, Lucretius’ Use of Simile, 282. 31 32


Bibliography PRIMARY SOURCE Lucretius. De Rerum Natura. Edited by Guilelmus Augustus Merrill. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1929. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;. On the Nature of Things. 2nd. Translated by Cyril Bailey. London: Oxford University Press, 1910. SECONDARY SOURCES Ben-Porat, Ziva."Poetics of the Homeric Simile and the Theory of (Poetic) Simile." Poetics Today 13, no.4 (1992): 737-769. Fishelov, David. "Poetic and Non-Poetic Simile: Structure, Semantics, Rhetoric." Poetics Today 14, no.1 (1993): 1-21. Garani, Myrto. Empedocles Redivius: Poetry and Analogy in Lucretius. New York: Routledge, 2006. Hohler, Rosalie C. "Lucretius' Use of Simile." The Classical Journal 21, no.4 (1926) : 281-285. Lewis, Chalton T., and Charles Short. A Latin Dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1879. Morewood, James, Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary. Edited by James Morewood. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994. Pope, Stella R. "The Imagery of Lucretius." Greece & Rome 18, no.53 (1949): 70-79.



1 (Above) 2 (Below)


Torture or Love? Erotic Curses in the Greco-Roman World Meghan O’Donnell Erotic curses, popular across the Mediterranean world from the second century C.E. onward, sought to torture the “beloved” with burnings, itchings, or insomnia that would only end when their target was in the arms of the performer of the incantation.1 The orated curses were accompanied by a ritually significant act, such as the perforation of a lead tablet or the binding of the hands and legs of a small effigy.2 I argue that these curse tablets and figures are best understood within the broader Roman religious practice of requesting benefits from the gods. Similar to votive offerings to gods associated with healing, curse tablets were deposited privately and represented an individual’s attempt to communicate directly with the gods. Indeed, eros was treated in the Graeco-Roman world as a disease that some attempted to “cure” using amatory curse tablets. Amatory curses are thus best analyzed in the broader context of Roman religious practices rather than restricted to the category of “magic.” Eros, erotic desire, is treated as a disease in both Greek and Roman literature and was a topic of medical debate. For instance, Faraone argues that the popular image program of the god Eros violently attacking his victims with whips or torches reflects beliefs about the etiology of diseases like epilepsy, quartan fever, and other illnesses that manifest in violent agitations, shivering, or feverish outbursts.3 The ferocity with which the author of the Hippocratic treatise On the Sacred 1 Christopher A. Faraone, “The Agonistic Context of Early Greek Binding Spells,” in Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic & Religion (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991), 15. 2 Faraone, “Agonistic Context,” 5. 3 Christopher A. Faraone, “Spells for Inducing Uncontrollable Passion (Eros),” in Ancient Greek Love Magic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999), 46-47.


Disease attacks those who claim that diseases like epilepsy are caused by the gods underscores the popularity of this belief. Even Galen, writing some six hundred years later, thought it necessary to refute the idea that both epilepsy and eros are “sacred diseases.”4 Thus, erotic desire in both ancient Greece and Rome was understood to be a disease caused by the gods. It follows, then, that treatments for eros would be similar to those for other diseases. The practice of depositing votive offerings at the sanctuaries of deities associated with healing diseases is a religious phenomenon that is found throughout central Italy dating back to at least the fourth century B.C.E.5 Several sites containing votive offerings of small terracotta models of parts of the human body have been found, indicating that people seeking cures for their diseases dedicated these offerings in the hopes of receiving help from the gods.6 For example, a very large deposit of terracottas from the Republican period was found in the bed of the Tiber, presumably associated with the healing god Asclepius’ nearby temple site.7 This practice of Romans turning to the gods directly for help in healing their diseases can be compared to that of depositing curse tablets in search of a cure for eros. Just as votive offerings were placed in particular sanctuaries to communicate with particular healing deities, so too were curse tablets placed in cemeteries and chthonic sanctuaries associated with the chthonic gods.8 Rather than out of shame or fear, curse tablets were buried in secret and in places like cemeteries to ensure direct, private communication with the gods. Faraone argues: “Whether the prayer is benevolent or malevolent is immaterial to the pious belief that the gods addressed can and will do what they are asked provided they are approached in a ritually correct manner.”9 Therefore, it is best to view the deposition of curse tablets Faraone, “Spells,” 48. Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price, Religions of Rome: Volume 1, A History (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 12. 6 Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome: Volume 1, 12-13. 7 Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome: Volume 1, 69. 8 Faraone, “The Agonistic Context of Early Greek Binding Spells,” 9. 9 Faraone, “The Agonistic Context of Early Greek Binding Spells,” 19. 4 5


as a practice that fits into the broader category of Roman or Greek religion and not solely in the realm of magic. A particularly illuminating example of an erotic curse is found in a clay figure of a woman pierced with thirteen needles, found in Egypt in the third or fourth century C.E., the victim of an amatory curse closely following the instructions of the Papyri Graecae Magicae IV.296-329 (Figure 1).10 As the recipe instructs, she is in a kneeling position, her feet bound and hands tied behind her back; needles pierce the top of her head, mouth, eyes, ears, solar plexus, vagina, anus, palms of her hands, and soles of her feet.11 The figure, now in the Louvre, was found with an 11 x 11 cm rolled-up lead tablet in a clay vase.12 The 28 lines of texts on the tablet were inscribed by “an expert hand,” closely following a binding spell found in the Papyri Graecae Magicae (IV.33584),13 one of several binding spells or defixiones found on metal tablets in Egypt.14 The text is also an example of an agōge curse, designed to “lead” or “drag” the victim to the performer of the spell.15 Where the model in the PGM calls for the relevant names to be introduced, this tablet names the client as Sarapammon, son of Area, and the desired woman as Ptolemais, daughter of Aias. It begins by naming itself as a binding spell entrusted to the chthonic gods and the chthonic divine demons, invoking a number of deities from familiar Greek and Egyptian ones to the “bizarre,” and specifically names Antinous, possibly the deceased friend of Hadrian, as the demon tasked with carrying out Sarapammon’s commands.16 The tablet instructs that Ptolemais not be “fucked, buggered or should not give any pleasure to another man, except to me alone Sarapammon,” and to “prevent her from eating, from drinking, until she comes to me,

10 John G. Gager, “Sex, Love, and Marriage,” in Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992), 97. 11 Faraone, “Spells,” 41. 12 Gager, “Sex, Love, and Marriage,” 97. 13 Gager, “Sex, Love and Marriage,” 97. 14 Gager, “Sex, Love and Marriage,” 97. 15 Faraone, “ Agonistic Context,” 14. 16 Mary Beard, John North, and Simon Price, Religions of Rome: Volume 2, A Sourcebook (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 266-67.


Sarapammon.”17 The language becomes more forceful and violent as the tablet instructs the demon to “drag her by the hair, the guts until she does not reject me...and I have her...subject to me for the entire extent of my life, loving me, desiring me, telling me what she thinks. If you do this, I will release you.”18 The violent language of the incantation and the physical piercing of the clay figure invoke ideas of female subjugation and torture. Gager, however, argues that the explicit goal of the curse is not to harm the target but to constrain her.19 This may be explained in part by the development of the erotic defixiones from the legal and judicial realm, where hostile techniques for binding one’s enemies were appropriate.20 While there is certainly a gendered component, there is a danger in misreading this tablet and figure upon first glance. The language is symbolic and the ritual action of piercing the figure is an act of binding that Gager argues is directed toward affecting a change on the actor’s internal rather than external world.21 By using violent force on the clay figure the performer of the incantation seeks to displace their physical symptoms onto the target of the spell - “the desire to dominate the target manifests an effort to regain control of oneself.”22 The torments described in the incantation—the inability to eat, sleep, drink—are temporary: they are present “until she comes to me,” the performer of the spell.23 The clay figure, then, is not best understood as a sort of “voodoo” doll, but rather as part of a ritual of binding and temporary displacement of the performer’s physical symptoms whose violent language is due “to the projected intensity of the performer’s own sense of victimization by a power he is helpless to control.”24 The power in question is eros, a disease treated here as others were in the context of requesting benefits from the gods. Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome: Volume 2, 266-67. Beard, North, and Price, Religions of Rome Volume 2, 267. 19 Gager, “Sex, Love, and Marriage,” 81. 20 Gager, “Sex, Love, and Marriage,” 81. 21 Gager, “Sex, Love, and Marriage,” 81. 22 Gager, “Sex, Love, and Marriage,” 82. 23 John J. Winkler, “The Constraints of Eros,” in Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic & Religion (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991), 232. 24 Winkler, “The Constraints of Eros,” 216. 17 18


Just as petitions were made to healing gods such as Asclepius, so too were petitions made to chthonic gods in the form of defixiones and other erotic curses. The Louvre figure and its accompanying curse tablet are thus best understood as a means for an individual to ask the gods to cure their affliction of eros. Erotic curses should therefore be appreciated in religious terms rather than in strictly magical ones. The transfer of physical symptoms from the performer of the curse onto the clay figure is aimed at affecting a change in the actor’s internal world, in an act of both torture and “love.”


Bibliography Beard, Mary, John North, and Simon Price. Religions of Rome: Volume 1, A History. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Beard, Mary, John North, and Simon Price. Religions of Rome: Volume 2, A Sourcebook. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Faraone, Christopher A. “Spells for Inducing Uncontrollable Passion (Eros).” In Ancient Greek Love Magic, 41–95. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1999. Faraone, Christopher A. “The Agonistic Context of Early Greek Binding Spells.” In Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic & Religion, edited by Christopher A. Faraone and Dirk Obbink, 3–32. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991. Gager, John G. “Sex, Love, and Marriage.” In Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World, 78–115. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1992. Winkler, John J. “The Constraints of Eros.” In Magika Hiera: Ancient Greek Magic & Religion, edited by Christopher A. Faraone and Dirk Obbink, 214–43. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Figures 1 (Right) Image from Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.5)


The Venereal Reaper On the Insidious Quality of Edmund Spenser’s Garden of Adonis Hannibal de Pencier Edmund Spenser's Garden of Adonis from his text The Faerie Queene is an intermediary realm between the transient postlapsarian world and the realm of the eternal. It is paradoxically neither temporal nor infinite, neither material nor wholly immaterial; rather, the Garden of Adonis is a realm of pure potentiality in which form and matter—figured as the elemental binary components of living beings—are divorced. As such, despite its role as the locus of generation, the Garden of Adonis ontologically precludes life itself. The Garden is the natural home only to hollow forms and eternal deities, which exist rather than truly live. This is a critical ontological distinction, for surely the certainty of death is inalienable from any conception of life. Life is necessarily mortal as, without mortality, it is an irreconcilable paradox, a thing which may more properly be referred to as existence. Thus, I argue that the Garden of Adonis, though perhaps an ideal world for Venus, is decidedly not such for Adonis as his mortality is incompatible with the ontological paradigm of the garden. In order to remain in the garden, Adonis must be hidden, caged, stripped of agency, deprived of form, and reduced to utility as pure matter. Ultimately, Spenser’s Adonis is contained in an unnatural immortality which paradoxically amounts to a loss of life. In Spenser's Faerie Queene, the garden of Adonis depicts a cyclical teleology of life, though Adonis himself is disallowed from fulfilling this


telos. According to this central episode of Book III, souls are destined to rotate between the material world and the garden of forms for an undetermined - potentially lengthy - but ultimately finite term before "wicked time[...] with his scyth addrest" puts a stop to this recirculation.1 Following their earthly term, souls return to the garden through an iron gate whereby they enter into the hollow forms of "naked babes".2 After a term of "some thousand yeares” the babes are reincorporated with matter—figured as "fleshly weedes" or "sinful mire"—at which point they are expelled from the garden through a golden gate.3 Thus they "invade/ The state of life, out of griesly shade."4 The regeneration of beings through the golden gate, after having returned to the garden through an iron gate, suggests that this process is positive. Through their reincorporation into formed matter, these beings have reached a sort of sub-telos which simultaneously serves as the starting point of another forward-moving cycle. Having been removed from this cycle, Adonis is excluded from the positive regeneration which is natural to mortal beings. Spenser writes that the garden is the "first seminarie/ Of all things, that are born to live and die,/ according to their kindes."5 The "to"s of this statement are an important indication of teleological significance, as they explicitly state that life and death are purposeful. Men, flowers, and other such beings are made to live and die. In the garden, Adonis is therefore not living according to his kind. Having been removed from the cycle, he is kept safe from death, but simultaneously loses his life. For "all that lives is subject to that law:/ All things decay in time and to their end do draw."6 Therefore, Adonis, not being subject to the law of cyclical life and death, is not truly living. One of two conclusions must then be drawn about Spenser's idyllic garden. Firstly—and perhaps most disturbingly—Spenser may be suggesting that the ideal world is one in which the inhabitants are not Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, 45. Spenser, 44. 3 Spenser, 44. 4 Spenser, 44. 5 Spenser, 43. 6 Spenser, 45. 1 2


alive, that life is necessarily antithetical to the ideal. Yet, such an ideal would be incompatible with the life affirming moralism which precedes and follows the garden scene. Rather, I argue that despite its ostensible charms, the Garden of Adonis—like the houses of Busyrane or Malecasta in their own right—is a negative example of communion between sexes, in which Adonis suffers an metaphysical deformation. The principle aspect of this deformation is bisection. In order to keep Adonis with her, Venus necessarily has to separate his form and matter. It must be noted that Amoret is an exception to this rule. However, she does not originate from the aforementioned cyclical life paradigm. Though she may not be immortal - having been fathered by the sun - she is ontologically unique. Adonis, on the other hand, had a decidedly material conception, having been born out of the incestuous relationship between his mother Myrrah and their mutual father Cinyras. As such, "according to [his] kind", Adonis should not naturally be exempt from the life cycle.7 He is exempted however, largely through this reduction to pure matter. Spenser writes, All[though] he be subject to mortalitie, Yet is eterne in mutabilitie, And by succession made perpetuall, Transformed oft, and changed diverslie, For him the Father of all forms they call; Therefore needs mote he live, that living gives to all.8

Here, Spenser illustrates how Adonis's eternal "mutabilitie"—or in other words his lack of fixed form—allows him to "live" indefinitely. However, in this excerpt, there are indications of the insidiousness of this state. Firstly, the passivity with which Adonis is depicted is contrary both to the heroic-chivalric ideals of the poem as a whole, and to the willfulness which defines him in his natural life in the Ovidian source. In the Metamorphoses, though he has been warned by Venus to avoid wild beasts and the natural world, Adonis's "bold heart rebuffed her warning words".9 He is killed by a wild boar and subsequently metamorphosed into the anemone flower, but his Spenser, 43. Spenser, 46. 9 Ovid, Metamorphoses, trans. AD Melville, 247. 7 8


"enjoyment of it is brief... for the winds deflower it".10 The Faerie Queene's configuration of Adonis's character is diametrically opposed to the willfulness and transience which defines the figure in his Ovidian source. This deviation is significant because the extent to which Spenser alters his source encourages the reader to consider Venus's alterative act. Just as Spenser deforms his source, reformulating it for allegorical utility, Venus deforms Adonis for sensual and procreative utility. Spenser's Adonis is "made perpetual": he is "transformed oft, and changed".11 By configuring Adonis as the recipient of these verbs, he is made powerlessâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;an object rather than an agent. This objectification is further degrading due to its utilitarian justification. Adonis is turned into a passive object so that the active Venus can generate forms. Again, it must be reiterated that despite the ostensible attractiveness of being Venus's functionally immortal companion, the corporeal deformation and dissolution of agency necessary to become so is an insidious process which is necessarily antithetical to the ideals of virtuous romantic communion which Spenser has illuminated elsewhere in the canto. Furthermore, the sub-idyllic aspect of Adonis' containment in the garden is evident in the way in which Venus is demonstrably analogous to the murderous personification of time, who intermittently prowls the garden in order to end the recirculation of certain beings. Time and Venusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; most obvious analogue is precisely this active prevention of recirculation. However, Spenser also aligns the two figures through their figuration as reapers. He writes that, "wicked time [...] with his scyth addrest,/ does mow the flowring herbes and goodly things.â&#x20AC;?12 This description of time killing flowers may be usefully compared with that of Venus's relationship to Adonis. Spenser writes that in the garden Venus is wont to enjoy, And reape sweet pleasure from the wanton boy; There yet, some say, in secret he does ly, Lapped in flowres and pretious spycery, Ovid, 248. Spenser, 46. 12 Spenser, 45. 10 11


By her hid from the world, and from the skill Of stygian Gods, which doe her love envy; But she her selfe, when ever that she will, Possesseth him, and of his sweetness takes her fill.13

Time scythes flowers as Venus reaps Adonis and "posseseth" him. Once again Adonis is depicted as a passive figure, something to be hidden, possessed, and reaped. In the act of concealing Adonis from the "Stygian Gods" she acts in a way analogous to those deities. The analogy between Venus and the Stygian Gods is also evident in the way in which the forms of the garden are figured in language reminiscent of that conventionally used in classical sources to describe the dead in the underworld. Given his extensive engagement with ancient sources in this cantoâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; especially Ovidâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Spenser must have been conscious of this analogous configuration and therefore be using it with intention. Just like souls in the underworld are "bloodless shades,"14 forms in the garden are "griesly shades,"15 having crossed a metaphysical threshold succeeding their natural life. Both Ovid and Virgil refer to the dead as "umbrae", or "shades". Furthermore, just as Venus reigns over the shades in the Garden, Pluto is figured in the Metamorphoses as "lord of the shades".16 Thus, Spenser demonstrably aligns Venus with the murderous reaper, time, and with the Stygian God of his source material - the "lord of the shades".17 This alignment is suggestive of the sub-idyllic state of ontological deformation in which Adonis is contained. Moreover, Venus is aligned with Busyrane and Malecasta as a sexually violent figure through the adornment of her garden. Though the garden of Adonis lacks explicit ekphrastic descriptions of badchastity or sexual violence,18 it does contain signifiers of famous romantic communions which are aggressive, or fatal. Firstly, the bower in which Adonis is caged, the "gloomy grove", is made out of myrtle Spenser, 45. Ovid, 226. 15 Spenser, 44. 16 Ovid, 225. 17 Ovid, 225. 18 As in Malecasta, whose name translates to bad-chastity, whom Spenser aligns with ekphrastic descriptions of tapestries depicting lustful Ovidian scenes (Book 3, Canto 1.34-39). 13 14


trees, meant to echo Apollo's laurel of sexual conquest.19 Within the bower, Adonis is surrounded by flowers, the transmuted states of lovers whose desires were fatal: Narcissus, Amyntas, and Hyacinthus. Thus—as was his intention with the houses of Malecasta and Busyrane—by displaying such analogies, Spenser encourages the reader to consider how the relationship between Venus and Adonis, like the relationships of the signified lovers, may be nefarious and lethal. Like the relationship between Venus and Adonis, each of the signified relationships was destructive because of the ontological discrepancy between lovers. Such power imbalances are shown to be consistently destructive to one of the lovers; Daphne, Narcissus, Hyacinthus, and Adonis are all deformed because of the power imbalance inherent to ontological difference. Despite its seductiveness, Adonis' state in the garden is sub-idyllic because of his natural mortality's incompatibility with the ontological paradigm of the garden—an incompatibility which necessitates his deformation and renunciation of agency. By presenting the reader with this example of romantic communion, Spenser encourages his audience to ground their romantic fantasies. He disallows the inclination to believe that love could only be ideal in a world of immortality in which the lover and beloved are necessarily paragons of beauty—thus reasserting the importance of Britomart's quest to find love’s earthly ideal.


Spenser, 45.


Bibliography Ovid. Metamorphoses. Translated by AD Melville. Oxford: Oxford Scholarly Editions. 2012. Spenser, Edmund. "The Faerie Queene." Edmund Spenser's Poetry. Anne Lake Prescott, Andrew D. Hadfield. New York: Norton, 2014. Spenser, Edmund. The Complete Works in Verse and Prose of Edmund Spenser. London: Grosart, 2005.


Enslaving the Ephebe Slavery, Pederasty, and the Hypocrisies of Roman Patriarchy Neha Rahman The practice of pederasty existed at the nexus of gender, sexuality, class, and age in ancient Rome. A closer examination of this system of socially-sanctioned same-sex relationships, and especially the role enslaved young men played within it, complicates the ways we understand the formation of masculinity and patriarchy in ancient Rome. Pederasty required a power-dynamic fuelled by age difference, in which an older man would dominate and penetrate a much younger one.1 The Romans inherited this specific practice of male-male intimacy from the Greeks, where the younger, passive recipients of penetration, the eromenoi,2 would have regularly been young elite men. The practice of pederasty was common to small, intellectual social circles, with often pedagogical connotations, as the archaic Greek lyric poetry of Anacreon and Theognis attest.3 Symposia— elite dinner parties and sites of homosocial bonding— were famous sites 1 Elizabeth Bartman, “Eros’ Flame Images of Sexy Boys in Roman Ideal Sculpture,” in The Ancient Art of Emulation: Studies in Artistic Originality and Tradition from the Present to Classical Antiquity, ed. Elaine K. Gazda (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2002), 266. 2 I recognize that this binary model, based on Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, is a flawed and simplistic model for same-sex relationships in Ancient Greece and Rome. However, it is used here as shorthand for the kinds of power dynamics that existed within these relationships which I argue are amplified by the younger and arguably more passive partner also generally being an enslaved person. 3 Andrew Lear,“The Pederastic Elegies and the Authorship of the Theognidea,” The Classical Quarterly 61, no. 2 (2011): 381.


for both pederastic practices and the initiation of young men into the social roles and responsibilities expected of them as adults.4 In Rome, however, pederasty was characterized not by the elite, but by the institution of slavery. According to Elizabeth Bartman, for Romans, “the most acceptable male partner for the active male lover was a young slave,” revealing that pederasty was a site for the formation of significant inter-class affective relationships.5 As the institution of slavery legally and socially circumscribed the sexual availability of the enslaved body, they were a convenient choice.6 Bartman, surveying Roman statuary of male adolescence, argues that,“surviving descriptions of male household slaves present a consistent and suggestive profile: they are young, good-looking, and foreign.”7 Moreover Sarah Levin-Richardson states that, both the Greeks and Romans saw male beauty peak during the “bloom” of adolescence (i.e. the very beginnings of puberty around the ages of ten and sixteen),8 after which “that beauty quickly wilted and, with it, (most) interest in males as sexual objects or partners.”9 This time of life is of utmost importance for young men for a plurality of other reasons: at age sixteen, citizen boys would first don the white toga virilis or the “toga of manhood,” indicating their transition from childhood.10 This is also the age at which young men became eligible for conscription.11 Young elite men in Rome, as potential magistrates and noblemen, would adhere to a masculinity that promoted virility, Lear, “Pederastic Elegies” 387. Lowry Nelson, "Alcibiades' Intrusion in Plato’s Symposium," The Sewanee Review 94, no. 2 (1986): 267. 6 Jennifer A. Glancy, Slavery in Early Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press. Oxford Scholarship Online, 2003), 25-26. 7 Bartman, “Eros’ flame,” 267. 8 This age range for physical development could have varied because of the different dietary and hygiene conditions in the ancient world, in that malnourishment could naturally stunt the development of puberty, (Soliman et al, “Nutrition and pubertal development,” 39.) We can thus imagine this bloom of adolescence may have extended even into one’s early 20s. 9 Sarah Levin-Richardson, “Male Prostitutes” in The Brothel of Pompeii (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2019), 130. 10 J. C. Edmondson, “Roman Dress,” in Roman Dress and the Fabrics of Roman Culture, ed. J. C. Edmondson and A. Keith, 21-47 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), 26. 11 Edmondson, “Roman Dress,” 26. 4 5


strength, and control.12 Thus, there were measures that discouraged them from being submissive, effeminiate partners in same-sex relationships.13 Roman patriarchal values were more particular about the ways in which elite men were treated as they were seen as the essential demographic necessary for a functional society. Enslaved young men, although ubiquitous ancillaries in these institutions, were not treated with the expectation that they would take up the mantle of leadership and were available to be fetishized as sexually attractive objects and made vulnerable to the violent manifestations of this desire. Thus, the practice of pederasty divided the experience of a young man in Rome, as one of protection or predation, according to one’s free or enslaved status. Slavery made the young male body susceptible to a particular gendered and age-based violence in a pederastic relationship. Romans circumscribed the bodies of enslaved young men in two major ways: through the distortion of masculine behavioural expectations, and through corporeal modification to preserve the aesthetics of early adolescence. In doing so, Rome, though an inherently patriarchal slave society, harmed the very people that its system claims to protect and empower.14 Through the institution of slavery, Roman men could deny personhood and citizenship to fellow men, destabilizing any single picture we may have about ideals of Roman masculinity. Enslaved people were ideal eromenoi because they were already expected to behave in a submissive manner, influenced by the “servile” qualities featured in the ways Romans portrayed their erotic ideals in literature and art.15 The statues in Bartman’s study portray common “physical virtues for which such a boy was prized: long, curly hair; skin whose softness is as yet unroughened by stubble; "honeyed" lips; limpid eyes.”16 Additionally, their bodies are often 12 Amy Richlin, Arguments with Silence: Writing the History of Roman Women (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2014), 225. 13 Richlin, Arguments with Silence, 225. 14 I say this as opposed to a “society with slaves,” as this term connotes that slavery was an integral if not definitional part of the way Rome operated (Finley, “Ancient Slavery,” 147). 15 Richlin, Arguments with Silence, 224. 16 Bartman, “Eros’ Flame,” 267.


made to twist away from the viewer, with their heads lowered or coyly tilted to the side, which evokes the behavioural expectations for enslaved people, who were generally unable to look at their masters in the eyes, speak back to them, or posture in any way as equals. There is an inherent contradiction in the way statues are ostensible depictions of exalted figures of gods and divine consorts like Dionysus and Ganymede, but in reality, stand in for enslaved young men like Giton.17 As it is bordering on sacreligious to conflate an image of Dionysus with a slave, Bartman cautions us not to read these statues as literal analogies; rather, she shows that the implicit desirability of these sculptures was mirrored in the sexually available bodies of slaves, which were both essentially “possessions of a rich owner.”18 Roman law reinforces enslaved young men’s roles in pederasty. Amy Richlin writes that the lex Julia de adulteriis coercendis “reinforced the ill-attested lex Scantinia, which apparently made illegal the sexual use of an ingenuus [young man] by another male.”19 As the younger, pubescent partner in a pederastic relationship was almost always a slave, violence was inevitable. Richlin emphasizes that rape was not considered a crime when committed against a slave, it was rather the assailant that had legal recourse in such a case.20 For instance, in Petronius’s first century CE novel the Satyricon, the first time we meet the young beloved slave Giton is when his owner Encolpius’s friend Ascyltus attempts to rape him. After this encounter, Giton says, “When I cried in protest, he drew his sword, and said: "If you are Lucretia, you have met your Tarquin!"21 In the following scene, Encolpius fights Ascyltus on Giton’s behalf, extending a degree of protectiveness that betrays at first simple jealousy over his possession but also a certain degree of care he feels for his lover. Later in the novel, when Giton expresses his preference for Ascyltus, Encolpius shows emotional distress, which although, exaggerated for humour, demonstrates the Bartman, “Eros’s Flame,” 268. Bartman, 268. 19 Richlin, Arguments with Silence, 224. 20 Richlin, 224. 21 Petronius, Satyricon, trans. P.G. Walsh, Oxford’s World Classics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017,) 9. 17 18


affective bond he shares with Giton.22 Additionally, the idea that Giton could decide between the two lovers shows that those in positions of authority allowed him a modicum of choice, indicating, perhaps, that slaves in pederastic relationships had the potential to be treated slightly differently, albeit this may not drastically improve a slave’s life. The emotional effect Giton has on Encolpius does not preclude his capacity as a slave owner to be violent towards him, revealed through Petronius’ account of Encolpius beating Giton when he finds him in Ascyltus’s presence.23 Giton’s betrayal is two-fold, as a lover and as a slave. Infidelity, even if as a consequence of rape, was a serious charge in Roman literature. During the attempted rape of Giton in Petronius’s novel, the allusion that Ascyltus allegedly makes to Lucretia and Tarquin is significant in the way Giton is figured as an object of attraction and is doubly significant for the values the comparison to Lurcretia confers upon him. Livy recounts her rape as one of many outrageous crimes committed by members of the unchecked monarchy.24 Lucretia’s eventual suicide has been received in later Roman literature as exemplary feminine virtue and honour, which is problematic as it reconfigures the blame for the crime of rape upon its victim.25 The comparison between Giton and Lucretia is thus a crude joke. However this impels us to compare the idea of “virtue” when applied to an enslaved person in a pederastic relationship and the good sexual behaviour expected of women. Before Lucretia’s suicide she famously says nec ulla deinde inpudica Lucretiae exemplo vivet, or “not any shameless woman shall live by the example of Lucretia.”26 Livy’s use of the word inpudica here is significant, as modesty as well as chastity are common virtues for women upheld in Roman texts written by men. Similarly, Austin Busch notes that although aristocratic Romans did not expect probitas or pudor from their slaves, they saw those resisting sex as “shamelessly lacking” Petronius, 79. Petronius, 79. 24 Livy, The Rise of Rome, trans. James Luce (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998,) 1.57-60. 25 Rosanna Lauriola, “Teaching About the Rape of Lucretia: A Student Project,” The Classical World 106, no. 4 (2013): 682-683. 26 Livy, 1.58. 22 23


these values.27 Busch says that though slaves could uphold standards of morality like “probitas ("uprightness") or pudor ("appropriate shame"),”28 these values were inverted for an enslaved person, as “an aristocratic Roman [...] might more easily imagine a slave resisting or even avoiding sex with a master as shamelessly lacking probitas, pudor, or modestia.”29 Comparing an enslaved person to Lucretia, as Petronius does, twists the metaphor and the meaning of her fabled sacrifice. In contrast, Giton is made inpudicus because he resisted rape. As a slave, and as the eromenos in a pederastic relationship, the social expectations of Giton in a sexual relationship are comparable neither to those of a free-born woman nor a free-born man; yet qualities like chastity, modesty, and shyness are expected to be mimicked by them in appearance and behaviour. The confluence of slavery and pederasty reveal a tension within Roman masculinity and patriarchy, where ideas and expectations overlap and begin to contradict one another. There is evidence that free-born young men were protected to a certain degree from these issues, as Jennifer Glancy writes that, “Plutarch proposed that free Roman youths wear the amulet known as the bulla to prevent adult men from accosting them for sexual purposes.”30 By contrast, slave collars would have been parallel physical indicators about the total availability of an enslaved person’s body, should anyone desire it.31 Though the collars generally attested the name of the owners, the Lex Aquilia shows legal recourse for seizure of other peoples’ slaves, demonstrating that this sexual availability may have existed and been broadcast beyond an owner-slave relationship.32 It is clear that the pubescent male body under the condition of slavery was openly desired and wholly available for violent seizure.

27 Austin Busch, “Pederasty and Flavian Family Values “Siluae” 2.1,” The Classical World 107, no.1 (2013): 71-72. 28 Busch, 71-72. 29 Busch, 71-72. 30 Jennifer A. Glancy, Slavery in Christianity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003,) 12. 31 Glancy, Slavery in Christianity, 21. 32 Richlin, Arguments with Silence, 224.


The contexts in which most Roman slave owners would be able to engage in casual pederastic encounters were their own tricilinia or dining rooms, during banquets, where they served as “benign sexual outlets for their owners.”33 Bartman mentions that both art, historical and literary evidence demonstrate this ornamental role of slaves in banquet contexts, equally existing to serve and to be admired. She cites “a third-century Tunisian mosaic showing wine servers confirms the literary account [From authors like] Catullus [who] mentions litterbearers (ad lecticam homines) from Bithynia, clearly alluding to their role as status-enhancers.”34 Young male slaves were thus beautiful possessions of elite men, and their role in a banquet setting was to act as a manifestation of the elite man’s wealth as well as to sate his sexual desires, as well as those of his guests.35 Slaves were the primary objects of pederastic desire within the semi-private space of elite dinner parties, and as Busch argues, “sexually servicing a master could be understood not just as obligatory, but as officium, a show of dutiful respect.”36 However, much like the way Giton’s comparison to Lucretia contorts traditional expectations of masculine duty, sexual service on the part of young male slaves troubles the context of the Roman dinner party. For free-born elite men, one of the primary functions of a banquet was integrating new members of society into tactical socio-political networks,37 and for freedmen, like Petronius’s Trimalchio, they equally provided a space for the accumulation and advertisement of social power and influence.38 Yet, for enslaved young men, banquets were places where their bodies were made explicitly vulnerable to sexual violence as part of their duty to the household,39

Glancy, Slavery in Christianity, 21. Bartman, “Eros’s Flame,” 267. 35 Sandra R. Joshel and Lauren Hackworth Peterson, The Material Lives of Slaves (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), 37. 36 Busch, “Flavian Family Values,” 71-72. 37 Sandra R. Joshel and Lauren Hackworth Peterson, The Material Life of Roman Slaves (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014,) 37. 38 Petronius, 27-78. 39 Joshel and Peterson, Material Lives of Slaves, 37. 33 34


inverting the broader patriarchal social function of the banquet space as a site of violence rather than one of community building.40 While the systems of pederasty and slavery intersect to distort typical expectations of male virtue and duty, these very distortions are then embodied in the enslaved person through body modifications. Early puberty was a temporary state in which men were most vulnerable to sexual violence. It was in this specific window of time that they most closely adhered to the aesthetic qualifications required of the ideal pederastic partner for an elite Roman man.41 However, as young men grow, vital qualities like the hairlessness of the body and face begins to disappear, the pitch of the voice deepens, the Adam’s apple develops, and, as Levin-Richardson proposes, their physical similarity to their older partner would start to pose a threat.42 After puberty had run its course, young slaves were no longer the attractive, submissive subject that pederasty required. As such, Roman medical and legal texts provide evidence that slave-dealers and slave owners alike sought ways to mitigate this problem and young men who were aging out of their status as eromenoi could be subject to a great deal of violence that sought either to preserve the aesthetic qualities of unfinished puberty or to reverse some of its effects. Bartman observes that the eromenos in Roman statuary are almost always beardless with hairless bodies. This stands in contrast to statuary of fully developed adult heroes and gods, who often comport themselves in powerful poses, with well-kept beards and hair to show virility and strength.43 Eromenoi represent a kind of visual anti-type to this image and thus, commonly subjected to practices of hair-removal (the most benign form of body modification).44 The pursuit of hairlessness as an aesthetic ideal challenges traditional norms of Joshel and Peterson, Material Lives of Slaves, 37. Bartman, “Eros’s Flame,” 267. 42 Levin-Richardson, “Male Prostitutes,” 128. 43 Bartman, “Eros’s Flame,” 253. 44 “Depilation was also held to be a conventional sign of the pathicus. Such a man removed the hair from his legs, chest, buttocks, even genitals by means of plucking, pitch, or other depilatory and was said to be hairless or "smooth" (levis, glaber, expolitus)” (Olson, “Masculinity, Appearance, and Sexuality,” 189). 40 41


Roman male grooming, and achieving it requires a degree of violence performed upon the young, enslaved male body that further corrupts the patriarchal rituals associated with the maintenance of hair as part of a man’s appearance.45 Evidence for practices related to hair-removal and hair-growth prevention come from Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, in which he recommends using ant eggs to “prevent the arm-pits... from becoming hairy”: The ashes of a burnt weasel, mixed with wax, are a cure for pains in the shoulders. To prevent the arm-pits of young persons from becoming hairy, they should be well rubbed with ants' eggs. Slave-dealers also, to impede the growth of the hair in young persons near puberty, employ the blood that flows from the testes of lambs when castrated. This blood, too, applied to the arm-pits, the hairs being first pulled out, is a preventive of the rank smell of those parts.46 The hyacinth grows in Gaul more particularly, where it is employed for the dye called "hysginum." The root of it is bulbous, and is well known among the dealers in slaves: applied to the body, with sweet wine, it retards the signs of puberty, and prevents them from developing themselves. It is curative, also, of gripings of the stomach, and the bites of spiders, and it acts as a diuretic. The seed is administered, with abrotonum, for the stings of serpents and scorpions, and for jaundice.47

Pliny specifically underscores that these natural remedies were used by slave-dealers to artificially preserve youthful appearance in the people they sold. Mangones and venalicii traffic in these medicines, lending a commercial impetus to the preservation of early pubescent aesthetic qualities in young men. This process of depilation temporarily removed the hair so that slaves, looking much younger, could be sold under false pretences. The actual physical process of applying this salve is troubling to imagine, as it may have involved coercion and violence. These ointments were not only used by slaves,

Bartman, “Eros’s Flame,” 253. “Umeri doloribus mustelae cinis cum cera medetur. — Ne sint alae hirsutae, formicarum ova pueris infricata praestant, item mangonibus, ut lanugo sit pubescentium, sanguis e testiculis agnorum, cum castrantur. qui evulsis pilis inlitus et contra virus proficit.” John Bostock, 1855, 30.41. 47 Hyacinthus in Gallia maxime provenit. hoc ibi fuco hysginum tingunt. radix est bulbacea, mangonicis venaliciis pulchre nota, quae e vino ducli inlita pubertatem coercet et non patitur erumpere. torminibus et araneorum morsibus resistit. urinam impellit. contra serpentes et scorpiones morbumque regium semen eius cum habrotono datur. John Bostock, 1855, 21.170. 45 46


as sometimes Roman citizens used them for personal grooming, however, this process held some social stigma, as Kelly Olson writes: Quintilian and the elder Pliny condemned the use of depilatories by men. Like the social censure directed at long hair on freeborn men, that directed against men who indulged in depilation was connected with the confusion of gender boundaries, since such practices were held to be womanish, but also with status dissonance: such men deliberately, and to some inexplicably, positioned themselves as sexually available slave boys.48

Hairless bodies in men were associated with these early stages of puberty but within the context of the pederastic society, and thus held connotations of effeminacy and enslavement. These, though ideals in a submissive eromenos, were a direct challenge to the integrity of the identity for a free-born, elite man (erastes). The trappings of the pederastic ideal challenge social codes of Roman masculinity in which hair, and its maintenance, held deep significance as one of the most prominent markers by which men projected their “public image.”49 A first visit to the barber marked a special occasion for young Roman men, and was part and parcel of the ways puberty could be an initiation into the world of adulthood.50 Particularly significant was facial hair and the first time one shaved, known as a “deposito barbae.”51 Beards in ancient Rome were particularly rife with a myriad of social meaning for elite men depending on the state of their upkeep and could provide immediate visual shorthand for class, occupation, or race. Jerry Toner writes that hair kept short and carefully groomed became “marks of civilization,” while long, disarrayed hair indicated barbarism “even if 48 Kelly Olson, “Masculinity, Appearance, and Sexuality: Dandies in Roman Antiquity,” Journal of the History of Sexuality 23, no. 2 (2014): 189. 49 Jerry Toner, “Barbers, Barbershops and Searching for Roman Popular Culture,” Papers of the British School at Rome 83 (2015): 97-98. 50 Toner, “Barbers, Barbershops,” 97-98. 51 “For men, the barber played an important role in the establishment of the male public image. This was particularly true for young men. A young man's 'first shaving' (depositio barbae) represented an important rite de passage and usually took place at about the age of twenty or when the toga virilis was assumed (and therefore often post-dated the growth of actual facial hair by some years). It was celebrated publicly with sacrifices and partying, with the shorn hair being consecrated to the gods. When Augustus first shaved, he held 'a magnificent entertainment himself, besides granting all the other citizens a festival at public expense'.36 In typical fashion, Nero put the hair from his own first shave in an extravagant gold box, set with pearls, and dedicated it to Jupiter, with a great sacrifice of bulls. Similarly, the vulgar freedman Trimalchio owned a large golden box to hold his first trimmings,” (Toner, 97-98).


there was no etymological link between the Latin words for beard, barba, and barbarian, barbarus. [...] But a long beard could also be a sign of mourning and also became a philosopher’s trademark.”52 Facial hair was thus a visual shorthand indicating myriad aspects of a Roman man’s life. Growing this hair, a process which begins at puberty, was one of the final steps to integrate young men into life as the primary participants in Rome’s social and political offices. The lack of this hair was a potent visual reminder of a more vulnerable status, which is why things like the bulla amulet mentioned earlier may have been necessary to protect young men before they could signal dominance through their well-kept beard.53 Similarly, hairstyles held specific connotations about effeminacy and power. In the statues examined by Bartman and in most literary depictions, ideal eromenoi have long, curly hair that is sometimes coiffed in an ornate manner.54 This kind of style was derided when worn by free-born or elite men, for whom though the convention was to be short and neat, there was also a social impulse not to be extravagant.55 Conventions of beauty can differ greatly along class lines and are thus consistent markers of distinction between free-born, elite men and the young enslaved men they desired. Therefore, eromenoi were idealized for traits that freeborn men would not represent in themselves. Roman pederasty, though an example of ancient same-sex relationships, was heavily circumscribed by the desire for difference. This meant that Roman patriarchal precepts mandated simultaneous rejection and distancing of those desired aesthetics from elite men, and thus visually indicated which young male bodies were more vulnerable. As a more extreme example of body modification in order to stall the effects of puberty, we turn to the Roman practice of castration. Like the salves and medicines Pliny writes about, castration prevented hair growth. Emiel Eyben discusses how Aristotle and Pliny the Elder describe the process of body hair growth as occurring in two stages: Toner, “Barbers, Barbershops,” 96-97. Not only on the face, but also the body. (Toner, “Barbers, Barbershops,” 96). 54 Bartman, “Eros’s Flame,” 254. 55 Olson, “Appearance, Masculinity, and Sexuality,” 188-189. 52 53


primary hair present at birth and secondary hair, acquired during puberty, leaving castrated people with “only primary hair.”56 Pliny’s observation implies that most castration would take place before or in the very early stages of puberty in order to preserve those most desired characteristics. Other effects that came with this procedure (which we may understand as usually just the removal of the testicles, but, in some cases, also the penis)57 included infertility, reduced muscle mass, and, if conducted before puberty, would stop the voice from deepening, while preventing the formation of an Adam’s apple.58 Those castrated slaves were sometimes considered attractive by Romans due to their exoticism as eunuchs were largely associated with places East of Rome like Anatolia (home of the cult of Magna Mater and her famously castrated priests) and Greece.59 In fact, the idealized eromenos which Bartman discusses in statuary “[looked] so Greek that today they are frequently mistaken for copies of Greek originals. [...] Emulative of Greek statuary in their form, theme, and setting, these works in their youthful eroticism recall aspects of a specifically Greek homosexual culture.”60 Although the Romans inherited pederasty from Greek culture, the significant Roman cultural difference is how common and socially-sanctioned it was for the eromenos to be an enslaved person. There is thus an ambiguity about the ways in which ancient pederastic societies perceived eunuchs, which does not exist for the far more universally appealing figure of the eromenos. Holmes references Greco-Roman literature by Aristotle and Clement of Alexandria, that features eunuchs as being undesirable and suspicious because they challenge the two-gender system, possessing both the "shrill voice, sickly constitution... [and] mincing steps" of the half-man, while being "invariably classified as

Emiel Eyben, “Antiquity’s View of Puberty,” Latomus 31, no. 3 (1972): 691. Glancy, “Slavery and Christianity,” 28. 58 M. G. Belcastro et al., “HFI and Castration: the Case of the Famous Singer Farinelli (17051782),” Journal of Anatomy 219 (2011): 632. 59 Beard et al., Religions of Rome. Vol. 1: A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 81. 60 Bartman, “Eros’s Flame,” 256. 56 57


male."61 However, castration produces some effects opposite to what one might expect, as it seems to pose a direct threat to the integrity of masculinity by creating a figure that neither adheres to all the trappings of masculinity, femininity, nor those of the careful balance struck by the eromenos. Furthermore, ancient medical knowledge was far more rudimentary and thus, the results of castration varied with side effects from medical malpractice. In addition, “exoticism” represents a fluid concept that could easily be reframed as “alien” and “unfamiliar,” thus portraying the eunuch as a deeply ambiguous figure instead of the perfect solution to the problem of the aging eromenos. The violence of castration has an effect of transforming the qualities that usually/traditionally were aesthetic ideals into abnormalities. These ambivalent attitudes towards eunuchs could have been part of the reason by the time Domitian was emperor in the late 1st and early 2nd century CE, he made, “castration [...] strictly prohibited, and the price of eunuchs remaining in slave dealers’ hands was officially controlled.”62 This legal precedent seems to indicate that castration was being employed as an excessive measure for the purpose of sexual gratification, and thus fell under the purview of Domitian’s sweeping moral reforms in this period. Though pederasty was a socially sanctioned behaviour, the exoticism associated with eunuch eromenoi 63 and its close link to banquet culture, prostitution, and slavery may have made it a target for moral censure. This kind of legislation was politically useful for Domitian, even though “ancient writers accused Domitian of hypocrisy (Juv. Sat. 2.29-33).” Indeed, he had a pederastic relationship with a slave named Earinus who had been castrated, though Busch argues that these criticisms “might not be fair; he could have passed the law precisely because he had learned through his beloved Earinus the suffering castration caused.”64 61 Brooke Holmes, “Marked Bodies: Gender, Race, Class, Age, Disability, and Disease,” in A Cultural History of the Human Body in Antiquity, ed. Daniel H. Garrison, 159-183 (Oxford: Berg, 2012), 182. 62 Suetonius, Lives of the Caesars: Domitian, trans. Robert Graves, ed. James Rives (New York: Penguin Books, 2007,) 7. 63 Holmes, “Marked Bodies,” 182. 64 Busch, “Flavian Family Values,” 79.


The reason for this apparent hypocrisy may be because these moral reforms were political machinations to help improve Domitians’ image. Augustus’s moral reforms from 18-17 BCE form a political precedent to Domitian’s castration ban.65 Passed concurrently with a reinforced ban about adultery, and the lex Scantinia which made sexual relationships with young free men illegal, those laws that attempted to regulate the sexual lives of Romans made the emperor stand out as an especially pious figure.66 It is difficult to know the efficacy of Roman legislation as we cannot know if this ban mitigated the huge demand and extra-legal means by which castrated young slaves could be sold. It is likely that it had no effect, and black markets continued these sales to an ever-eager market.67 Thus we must focus on the impetus behind Domitian’s ruling, and his motivations which extended beyond the favourable comparisons to Augustus. His ban on castration happened in the context of his own pederastic relationship with a castrated slave, Earinus, who he later freed. Busch imagines that the ban could have therefore come from a deeply personal place, inspired by the suffering of this individual with whom Domitian had a relationship.68 His eventual manumission is also indicative of the ways in which pederasty as an institution complicated the typical image of master-slave relationships. For people Earnius, however, the consequences of castration postmanumission were to make enslavement embodied and permanent through forced physical manipulation. Castration is a physical process of natal alienation, as it removes the ability for a slave to procreate and create patrilineal connections (which were some of the most valued in Roman society).69 Jennifer Glancy argues that a “slave was unaffiliated, existing outside the system in which fathers recognize and legitimate sons, and thereby denying them the ability to assume their 65 Richard I Frank, “Augustus’s Legislation on Marriage and Children,” California Studies in Classical Antiquity 8 (1975): 44. 66 Frank, 44. 67 Keith Bradley, Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire: A Study in Social Control (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 116. 68 Busch, “Flavian Family Values,” 71-72. 69 Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study (Cambridge MA: Harvard University Press, 1982), 5.


places within society.”70 Though Glancy is correct in advancing that slaves did not have a right to patrimony by “inheriting or transmitting a family name or other symbolic capital,” this changed after manumission, as Roman law identified children of freedpeople as full citizens. Castration takes away this possibility, mutilating and eliminating the foundational element of Rome’s patriarchy: the patriarch. Pederasty in Rome was a practice that relied on the system of slavery to function. The convergence of these two social processes created a kind of patriarchy that selectively benefitted men based on class and sexuality. Elite Roman men enjoyed the sexual availability of young, enslaved men, exploiting their ambiguously gendered pubescent state as an aesthetic and erotic ideal. They had unrestricted access to these enslaved bodies, and thus, the ability to mutilate and modify them to their preferences. Though pederastic relationships were ambiguously affective sites for inter-class interaction, they also created spaces for extreme violence. Roman men took advantage of the vulnerability of puberty because the patriarchal systems discriminated entirely based on class. While citizen men protected other citizen men, they utterly destroyed the enslaved people they designed to desire.


Glancy, Slavery and Christianity, 25-26.


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The Changed Form of Poetry Dante’s Interaction with Ovid in the Divine Comedy Taryn Power Ovid refuses to be left in Hell, or perhaps Dante refuses to leave him there. He first enters the Comedy’s stage as Dante enters limbo: he is third of the five great pagan poets who invite Dante to join their number and whom Dante must abandon to continue his journey. Ovid is mentioned by name only one more time, and then only for Dante to bid him “Taccia” as Dante’s poetics of transformation outmatch his own. However silenced Dante may bid him be, Ovid’s words find their way into Dante’s verse throughout his climb up Mount Purgatory and into the earthly Paradise, which appears as a ghostly reflection of Ovid’s Golden Age. At the outset of the final cantica, as Dante — both as the pilgrim within the story and as the poet who tells it — prepares to step into Paradise, he performs two metamorphoses, very much in the Ovidian mode. To express the transhumanization of the pilgrim, Dante uses Ovid’s Glaucus; to express the apotheosis of the poet, he turns to the tale of Marsyas. These two allusions within the Paradiso’s first canto provide a starting point for examining Dante’s relationship to Ovid as one which goes beyond mere allusion, but one in which he is actively engaged in competition and in subversion of the pagan poet’s work. Through his interactions with the Ovidian themes of metamorphosis, exile, and the nature of poetry, Dante presents his vision for an evolved poetic tradition, which itself becomes a means of Christian apotheosis.


Dante’s transformation of the theme of changing forms is perfectly exemplified by the story’s crowning moment of transformation: Dante the pilgrim’s ascent into heaven. After the Purgatorio, whose theme is essentially “spiritual metamorphoses” and which, fittingly, uses the Metamorphoses as its “key pagan subtext,”1 this ultimate transformation is both unsurprisingly Ovidian and surprisingly subtle. Dante uses the story of Glaucus from the thirteenth book of the Metamorphoses: a fisherman who “changed, tasting the herb that made / Him a companion of the other sea gods,”2 to explain the transformation that he experiences, ascending into heaven after looking into Beatrice’s eyes. Here, an Ovidian metamorphosis is reinterpreted as a Christian spiritual ascent — a moment of “passing beyond the human”, as Mandelbaum translates Dante’s term “trasumanar.”3 Dante himself invents this term for a process which “cannot be worded.”4 Not only does this use of Ovid’s work recontextualize and Christianize the metamorphosis, it reinforces an idea Dante has already introduced in the Inferno. There, he boldly complains that he “do[es] not envy” the pagan master of mutata forma, for Dante, unlike Ovid, can “transmute two natures, face to face, so that both forms were ready to exchange their matter.”5 Though the allusion to “two natures” might seem to be an assertion of a strictly Christian understanding through allusion to the doctrine of Hypostatic union, this passage, as Hawkins points out, is followed by one which is entirely “descriptive (that is, Ovidian)” in its treatment of a multitude of gruesome transformations.6 It is a poetic challenge to Ovid, but, as 1 Maristella Lorch and Lavinia Lorch, “Metaphor and Metamorphosis: Purgatorio 27 and Metamorphoses 4,” in Dante and Ovid: Essays in Intertextuality, ed. Madison U. Sowell (New York: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1991), 100. 2 Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy: Paradiso, I:68-9, trans. Allen Mandelbaum, (New York: Columbia University Libraries). All passages from Dante are taken from this version, unless otherwise stated. 3 Paradiso, I:70. 4 Paradiso, I:70-1. 5 Inferno, XXV:100-2. 6 Peter S. Hawkins, “The Metamorphosis of Ovid,” in Dante and Ovid: Essays in Intertextuality, ed. Madison U. Sowell (New York: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1991,) 22.


the poem is still trapped in Hell, it only goes so far as to prove Dante’s ability to compete within Ovid’s poetic tradition; the Paradiso’s metamorphosis, though lacking the direct claim of superiority, is much more bold in its implication. Here, Dante challenges Ovid and the pagan poetic tradition he represents. He creates a new form of — and even a new term for — transformation, which Ovid could never achieve. This concept of spiritual ascent is a foreign concept to pagan poetry, as it cannot truly be understood “until grace grant you the experience.”7 Dante uses Ovid’s narrative as a sort of earthly example of a higher form of metamorphosis that neither he nor the other pagan poets of limbo could hope to describe. While the story of Glaucus portrays Dante the pilgrim’s transformation, an earlier Ovidian allusion presents a transformation of the poet himself. In the middle of his invocation of Apollo at the beginning of the canto, Dante recalls the story of Marsyas: Enter into my breast; within me breath the very power you made manifest when you drew [traesti] Marsyas out from his limbs’ sheath.8

If the reader is familiar with this myth, its presence within the Paradiso must strike them as odd. Ovid’s version of the story in the Metamorphoses, which Dante’s word choice reveals as the most likely source, is one which would appear to be more consistent with the horrors of Inferno. Upon being defeated in a musical competition by Apollo, the satyr Marsyas is skinned alive: His skin is stripped off the surface of his body, and he is all one wound: blood flows down on every side, the sinews lie bare, his veins throb and quiver with no skin to cover them: you could count the entrails as they palpitate, and the vitals showing clearly in his breast.9

Ovid writes that Marsyas screams all the while, asking, “Quid me mihi detrahis?” — “Why do you tear me from myself?”10 It is this line which Dante quotes most directly, his verb traesti being a more or less direct translation of the Latin detrahis. It is on this line that the comparison of Paradiso, I:72. Paradiso, I:19-21. 9 Ovid, Metamorphoses, VI:387-90, trans. Frank Justus Miller, (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1916). 10 Metamorphoses, VI:386. 7 8


these two narratives balances. The immediate difference is that, in Ovid, Marsyas’ torture separates him entirely from himself. Marsyas is reduced to “one wound”; as his body is pulled apart, his self is entirely destroyed. The metamorphosis Ovid depicts is that of Marsyas’ blood and his mourners’ tears which become a river;11 Marsyas himself does not persist in any form, although many of the victims in the Metamorphoses are granted a form of continued life, even if it is perverse or tragic. This transformation is not present in Dante’s reading. Rather, he imagines a different transformation altogether. Marsyas is not torn from himself but merely from his “limb’s sheath.” Marsyas remains whole as he is pulled from his body, in a version of his death which mirrors the explanation Statius gives in the previous cantica: when the soul “quits the flesh” it continues “all of itself” to either the shore of the Archeron or Tiber12 — this is to say, the soul simply disposes of the unnecessary flesh yet remains whole as it passes onto the next life. As Levenstein explains, he “transforms Marsyas’ literal disembodiment” into “spiritual embodiment.”13 Marsyas becomes a martyr figure who witnesses divine power: he suffers, but ultimately, just as in the Glaucus story, his transformation is reimagined as one of spiritual ascent. Marsyas, however, does not parallel the Dante who is a character within the poem but Dante the poet. This Dante desires the same fate as Marsyas: he asks Apollo: “entra nel petto mio, e spira tue”14 — a passage rendered in English varyingly as begging for Apollo’s power,15 music,16 or simply his breath,17 but always asking for him to act “sì come quando Marsïa traesti.”18 In light of Ovid’s text, Dante’s choice of the losing side in the Marsyas story seems to reject obvious Metamorphoses, VI:395-400. Purgatorio, XXV:79-85. 13 Jessica Levenstein, “The Re-Formation of Marsyas in Paradiso 1,” in Dante for the New Millenium, ed. Teadolinda Barolini and H. Wayne Storey (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), 413. 14 Paradiso, I:19. 15 Paradiso, I:19, trans. Allen Mandelbaum. 16 Paradiso, I:19, trans. Dorothy Sayers, 1949. 17 Paradiso I:19, trans. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1867. 18 Paradiso, I:20. 11 12


explanation. Levenstein points out that in Ovid, poetic competitions are deliberate moments of “heightened poetic self-reflection.”19 The competition between the Pierides and Calliope, an allusion to which Dante himself uses at the outset of the previous cantica, is a perfect example of such a meta-poetical moment. In the story of Marsyas, however, Ovid himself does not seem to engage in the same degree of self-reflection. Beyond writing that Marsyas is “conquered in a contest on Pallas’ reed”20 by Apollo, he offers no account of the competition at all, focusing instead on the punishment in all its brutality which forwards a theme of artistic hubris and its heavy consequences. Brian Reynolds reads the incorporation of this myth in the Paradiso as an effort on the part of Dante to present the same warning, begging for humility as he strives to represent the celestial realm of Paradise.21 Dante, however, while invoking Marsyas as an example, claims that “here I shall take as crown the leaves / of which my theme and you [Apollo] shall make me worthy”22 : he is clearly competing in a contest he expects to win. This, as well as his reorientation of the myth as an example of divine inspiration, of the sort Dante himself desires, resists Reynolds’ reading. Rather, this passage is, to use Hawkins’ description, a “violent act of poetic revision” that Dante commits against Ovid.23 He subverts Ovid’s narrative of hubris into one of vision: Dante becomes the instrument of Apollo, who breathes through him as if he were a flute. This form of divine inspiration allows him to “show the shadow of the blessed realm” of which any one else who has seen it “can not speak.”24 Dante reimagines the story of Marsyas not as a competition between Apollo and Marsyas but as a competition between himself and every other poet, especially Ovid, whose story he actively corrects. In preemptively claiming the laurel wreath for 19 Jessica Levenstein, “Resurrecting Ovid's Pierides: Dante's Invocation to Calliope in "Purgatorio" 1.7-2,” in Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society, 126 (2008): 2. 20 Metamorphoses VI:384. 21 Brian Reynolds, “Morphing Mary: Pride, Humility, and Transformation in Dante’s Rewriting of Ovid,” in Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society, 126 (2008): 24. 22 Paradiso, I:26-7. 23 Hawkins, “The Metamorphosis of Ovid”, 33. 24 Paradiso, I:6, 24.


himself, he announces to the reader that he will succeed where no poet has before. This is not to say, however, that, by entering into competition with him, Dante is striving towards the same goal as Ovid. Stepping away from the Paradiso for the moment, it is necessary to examine Dante also as a poet of exile in order to understand the context and, thus, the implications of the Commedia for the poet. Janet Smarr points out that even in Dante’s immediate reception, as far back as the early works of Boccaccio, “the poet in exile, struggling to redeem himself’ is a theme which joins Ovid and Dante in the literary tradition.25 The Commedia certainly tells a tale of exile; reading it as an Ovidian tale is both tempting and, in part supported by the poem: the frozen lake in the lowest pit of Hell borrows its description, Picone notes, from the literary trope of the frozen sea which Ovid invents to describe the winter landscape of Tomis, his place of exile.26 Dante alludes to Phaethon and Icarus, both used in Ovid’s Tristia as parallel narratives to his own exile, in order to express the fear he feels on descending into the Circles of Fraud.27 Dante, however, through conscious subversion of Ovid’s narrative and re-orienting of the Exile’s longing for homecoming, seems to encourage a reading of his work in contrast to, rather than in harmony with Ovid. One such contrast is their differing perspectives on the city from which they are exiled. This contrast is proof of Dante’s correction of Ovid’s exile narrative into one of Christian exile, pilgrimage and, ultimately, homecoming. Ovid begins his Tristia by instructing his book to return to Rome where its “master is not allowed to go”28 and his addresses to the book show his clear longing for the “loved places” of this “great” city.29 His idealization of Rome could not be more strikingly different 25 Janet Levarie Smarr, “Poets of Love and Exile,” in Dante and Ovid: Essays in Intertextuality, ed. Madison U. Sowell (New York: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1991,) 140. 26 Michelangelo Picone, “Ovid and the Exul Inmeritus,” in Dante for the New Millenium, ed. Teadolinda Barolini and H. Wayne Storey (New York: Fordham University Press, 2003), 399. 27 Tristia, I.i:80-83; Inferno, XVII:106-110. 28 Tristia, I.i:2. 29 Tristia, I.i:15.


from Dante’s denunciation of Florence in the Inferno: “Florence, rejoice, [...] all the deep Hell rings with thy name.”30 Herein lies the fundamental difference in the narratives of the two poets: Ovid’s treats his physical exile from Rome as a sort of poetic death, while Dante’s narrative, though the poet himself is in physical exile, focuses on the spiritual exile of the Christian pilgrim from his true home in Paradise. Ovid, in telling his narrative of exile in the Tristia, hopes to be allowed to return to the earthly city of Rome; Dante the poet, in narrating Dante the pilgrim’s journey in the Commedia, hopes to win himself a heavenly homecoming to the celestial realm of Paradise, hinted at by his longing for the pseudo-martyrdom he gives to Marsyas. Dante’s engagement with the pagan poet of exile, then, functions as a correction of the pagan narrative of exile, wherein the goal of the exile poem becomes an ascent to heaven, not a return to his city of birth. Beyond correcting the desired role of poetry in changing its author’s fate, Dante envisions a new role for poetry itself. Returning again to the first canto of the Paradiso, which through its lengthy invocation of Apollo for artistic inspiration, functions as a declaration par excellence of Dante’s poetic ability and achievements. The final book of the Metamorphoses closes with a similar passage, where Ovid summarizes the ultimate goals of this work — and of his poetic corpus as a whole. He writes: And now my work is done, which neither the wrath of Jove, nor fire, nor sword, nor the gnawing tooth of time shall ever be able to undo. [...] Still in my better part I shall be borne immortal far beyond the lofty stars and I shall have an undying name. Wherever Rome’s power extends over the conquered world, I shall have mention on men’s lips, and, if the prophecies of bards have any truth, through all the ages shall I live in fame.31

To Ovid, poetry is a means of achieving actual immortality for himself. He claims, “I shall be borne immortal” and “I shall live in fame.” His work does not continue separate from him, but as his “better half.” As Reynolds rightly points out, no parallel assertion exists in the Commedia,32 even in the aforementioned first canto of Paradiso. What Dante claims as his goal is no more than to record faithfully the nature Inferno, XXVII:1-3. Metamorphoses, XV: 871-879. 32 Reynolds, “Morphing Mary,” 22. 30 31


of paradise: it is his “theme” as well as divine inspiration, as allegorized through the story of Marsyas, which will win him the laurel crown. There is no mention in this passage of Dante’s own “high genius,”33 which he invokes at the outset of the Inferno, nor does he make any mention of his eternal fame, as Ovid does, he simply hopes that his poetry might inspire “better voices” as “Great fire can follow a small spark”34 — a new, Christian poetic tradition which transcends the limits of the earlier pagan tradition as exemplified by Ovid. This is the only hint of any desire to “live in fame” in the Ovidian sense. In short, he desires to raise his verse to the contemplation of the divine, to transform poetry into a means of vision. This is what Levenstein calls “the most sublime of all metamorphoses”35 : an apotheosis of the Poet and poetry itself. Active engagement with Ovid, the great pagan poet of myth and exile, allows Dante’s Divine Comedy to appear as a transformed vision of metamorphosis, exile, and of poetry itself. At the outset of the Paradiso, Dante’s invocation of poetic inspiration provides a perfect example of this apotheosis, showing Dante’s corrected vision of metamorphosis as spiritual ascent or even martyrdom, which is also echoed in Dante’s re-interpretation of Ovid’s narrative of exile as pilgrimage and eventual spiritual homecoming. Using the language of Ovidian artistic competition, Dante enters his Commedia into competition with the pagan poetry exemplified by Ovid, and claims his victory. Ultimately, the goal of Paradiso’s first canto is one which pervades the entire work: the transhumanization of poetry, which allows it to carry the poet and the reader into paradise. Poetry must pass beyond the earthly realm in which even the most revered poets of antiquity are trapped. The Comedy is a self-conscious act of creating a new form of poetry, both in a new language and for a new, Christian world. This transformation is just as imperative for the poet Dante as the embrace of divine wisdom over earthly reason is for his pilgrim counterpart within the poem. However, unlike reason, poetry in Inferno, II:27. Paradiso, I:35. 35 Levenstein, “The Re-Formation of Marsyas,” 112. 33 34


its new form can, must, and will carry the poet all the way up to the Empyrean heaven: Dante the poet requires it; thus, he makes it so.


Bibliography PRIMARY SOURCES Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Columbia University Libraries, 1994. https://digitaldante.columbia.edu/dante/divine-comedy/. Ovid. Tristia: Ex Ponto. Translated by Arthur Leslie Wheeler. Revised by G.P. Goold. Loeb Classical Library 151. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1988. Ovid. Metamorphoses. Translated by Frank Justus Miller. Revised by G. P. Goold. 2 vols. Loeb Classical Library 42. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1916. SECONDARY SOURCES Hawkins, Peter S. “The Metamorphosis of Ovid.” In Dante and Ovid: Essays in Intertextuality, edited by Madison U. Sowell, 18-34. New York: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1991. Levenstein, Jessica. “The Re-Formation of Marsyas in Paradiso 1.” In Dante for the New Millenium, edited by Teadolinda Barolini and H. Wayne Storey, 408-421. New York: Fordham University Press, 2003. Levenstein, Jessica. “Resurrecting Ovid's Pierides: Dante's Invocation to Calliope in "Purgatorio" 1.7-2.” Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society 126 (2008):1-19. Lorch, Maristella and Lavinia Lorch. “Metaphor and Metamorphosis: Purgatorio 27 and Metamorphoses 4.” In Dante and Ovid: Essays in Intertextuality, edited by Madison U. Sowell, 100121. New York: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1991. Picone, Michelangelo. “Ovid and the Exul Inmeritus.” In Dante for the New Millenium, edited by Teadolinda Barolini and H. Wayne Storey, 489-407. New York: Fordham University Press, 2003.


Reynolds, Brian. “Morphing Mary: Pride, Humility, and Transformation in Dante's Rewriting of Ovid.” Dante Studies, with the Annual Report of the Dante Society 26(2008):21-55 Smarr, Janet Levarie. “Poets of Love and Exile.” In Dante and Ovid: Essays in Intertextuality, edited by Madison U. Sowell, 139151. New York: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1991.


Socratic Logoi and Platonic Muthoi in Plato’s Republic The Protreptic Power of Art Lexie White A longstanding debate concerning Plato’s philosophy centers on the tension between his condemnation of poetry on the one hand, and his own frequent usage of mythopoetic discourse to advance his philosophical theories on the other. Some scholars argue Plato’s mythic discourse is inseparable from his logical argumentation, while others suggest his myths play an important role in their own right, independent of the intellectual merit of his ‘philosophy proper.’ A comparison of Plato’s philosophical arguments (logoi) for and against poetry with the main myths in the Republic reveals the essential protreptic nature of stories: the myths carry emotional weight in a way that mere logic simply cannot. Two of the central myths of Plato’s Republic, namely the allegory of the cave and the myth of Er, embody the aesthetic principles laid out by Socrates in Books II-III and are a protreptic complement to Socrates’ logical argumentation. This reveals that Plato did not in fact believe that it is necessary for art to have only logical force, but rather that poetry and myths are themselves intrinsically valuable for the acceptance and recognition of philosophical truth due to their emotional impact.


The central question is why Plato included a mythopoetic allegorization of the philosopher’s acceptance of the Good as the cause of everything ἀγαθὸς, when ostensibly the philosopher should have already internalized this conclusion via the logical arguments of Socrates in Book II. In Book II, Socrates begins his logoi concerning proper aesthetic principles by laying out the reasons why the traditional Greek myths about the gods are morally damaging, even if they are literally true. Socrates condemns the traditional Greek poets, and particularly Homer and Hesiod, for falsely representing the gods. The problem with these myths, however, is not with the myth-form per se, but rather with the immoral content of the traditional Greek myths which in turn negatively affect the moral emotions of their audience, by suggesting that if even the immortal gods are permitted to engage in morally pernicious activities, human beings should have that same license.1 In Socrates' view, the myth form is not itself at fault, but rather the manner in which the gods are represented in the myths, and in particular that the myths simply make a categorical mistake about the true nature of the gods. According to Socrates, nothing that is good can be harmful,2 and evil is defined by Socrates as a harm. On the contrary, everything that is good is beneficial. Since the gods are good, and good things cannot be harmful or the cause of any kind of evil, the portrayals of the gods in Hesiodic verse and Homeric epic are incorrect. Plato cites various Greek poets who depicted the gods being the cause of evil for mortals, which is clearly incompatible with Socrates’ argument. In particular, Socrates quotes Iliad XXIV.527-32, when Homer asserts that “There are two urns at the threshold of Zeus, one filled with good fates, the other with bad ones” and that “the person to whom he gives a mixture of these sometimes meets with a bad fate, 1 Indeed, a form of this argument, namely, that if the gods act in a certain way, then so too humans ought to follow that model, is utilized by Euthyphro to justify indicting his own father of murder. In defining the pious, Euthyrphro suggests that it is bringing his father to court, on the “evidence” that “Zeus is the best and most just of the gods, yet [...] he bound his father because he unjustly swallowed his sons, and [...] castrated his father for similar reasons” (Plato, “Euthyphro,” trans. G.M.A. Grube, in The Complete Works of Plato, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), 6a1-3). 2 “ἀλλὰ μὴν οὐδέν γε τῶν ἀγαθῶν βλαβερόν” (Plato, Republic II. 379b3).


sometimes with good.”3 This is the first argument that Plato uses to discredit the feasibility of the ‘gods’ of Homer and Hesiod. The gods are not the cause of all things, but rather the cause of only good things. As such, the first model which the mythmakers must follow when writing poetry is that the gods are only the cause of good things, and never of evil. The aesthetic principle that the gods are only to be represented as the cause of good things is realized in the allegory of the cave in Book VII. The allegory of the cave is described as an eikōn (VII., 515a4), an image, and is thus a mythic representation of the philosopher’s ascent from the ‘cave’ of ordinary sense-perception out to the real world of noetic concepts, i.e., the Platonic forms. The journey of the philosopher begins with the destruction of the chains which had previously forced her to see only shadows on the wall of the cave which was her prison, and her arduous ascent out of the cave into the real world, where she encounters the objects which she had previously only seen shadows of. After her eyes have adjusted to these objects, she is able to “see [κατιδεῖν] the sun, not images [φαντάσματα] of it in water or some alien place, but the sun itself, in its own place, and be able to study [θεάσασθαι] it.”4 In laying out the allegory, Socrates says, the visible realm should be likened to the prison dwelling, and the light of the fire inside it to the power of the sun. And if you interpret the upward journey and the study [θέαν] of things above as the upward journey of the soul to the intelligible realm you’ll grasp what I hope to convey, since that is what you wanted [ἐπιθυμεῖς] to hear about […] In the knowable realm, the form of the good is the last thing to be seen, and it is reached only with difficulty. Once one has seen it, however, one must conclude that it is the cause (αἰτία) of all that is correct (ὀρθῶν) and beautiful (καλῶν)5 in anything.6

This presentation of the form of the good (ἡ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ἰδέα) as the cause of everything that is beautiful and correct tracks Socrates’ syllogistic argument that the gods are only the agents of good.

3 Plato, “The Republic,” trans. G.M.A. Grube and rev. C.D.C. Reeve, in The Complete Works of Plato, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), II. 379d2-5. 4 Plato, “The Republic,” VII., 516b3-5. 5 “ὀφθεῖσα δὲ συλλογιστέα εἶναι ὡς ἄρα πᾶσι πάντων αὕτη ὀρθῶν τε καὶ καλῶν αἰτία.” 6 Plato, “The Republic,” VII., 517b2-c1.


One might object that the form of the Good presented in the cave allegory is not only the cause of beautiful and good things (as are the gods in Book II) but in fact of everything – as Socrates says during the eikōn, “the sun provides the seasons and the years, governs everything in the visible world, and is in some way the cause of all the things [τρόπον τινὰ πάντων αἴτιος].”7 If Socrates’ aesthetic arguments in Book II for how the gods must be portrayed in myth entail that the gods only be the cause of good, it might be objected that there is a disanalogy between this logical argument and Plato’s mythic presentation of the form of the Good. Consequently, the analogy of the sun should not be read as the mythic counterpart to Socrates’ logical principle concerning the proper aesthetic depiction of the gods. I believe that this tension, however, can be resolved. For one thing, it is striking that Socrates makes a concession that the form of the Good is responsible (αἴτιος) in some way, τρόπον τινὰ. The already vague term τρόπον, ‘a turn, direction, way,’ is further generalized by the modification of the indefinite article τινὰ. This suggests that the account is not wholly precise, and that it remains to be seen in exactly what way the Good is the cause of all things. In fact, this question is explicated more precisely in Plato’s Timaeus, in which God, represented as a demiurge, crafts the cosmos with reference to the Forms, but is himself not the cause of any evil.8 Rather, evil exists in the world due to the inherent chaos and flawed nature of matter, which the demiurge attempts to convert from a state of chaos to order. Timaeus argues that God, because “he was good [ἀγαθὸς ἦν …] wanted everything to be good [ἀγαθὰ μὲν πάντα] and nothing to be bad so far as that was possible […] Now it wasn’t permitted (nor is it now) that one who is supremely good should do anything but what is

7 “οὗτος ὁ τάς τε ὥρας παρέχων καὶ ἐνιαυτοὺς καὶ πάντα ἐπιτροπεύων τὰ ἐν τῷ ὁρωμένῳ τόπῳ, καὶ ἐκείνων ὧν σφεῖς ἑώρων τρόπον τινὰ πάντων αἴτιος.” Plato, “The Republic,” VII., 516b7-9. 8 “Whenever the craftsman looks at what is always changeless and, using a thing of that kind as his model, reproduces its form and character, then, of necessity, all that he so completes is beautiful. But were he to look at a thing that has come to be and use as his model something that has been begotten, his work will lack beauty” (Plato, “Timaeus,” 28a6-b4).


best.”9 The language and content of the myth of the Demiurge, which is called a “likely myth” (‘τὸν εἰκότα μῦθον’),10 is reminiscent of the form of the Good, the entity which allows noetic concepts to be knowable and is responsible for order and beauty in the world.11 The myth of the Demiurge is Plato’s resolution for the problem of evil – instead of locating the cause of evil in God (i.e., the Demiurge, and by extension the forms which he refers to when making the universe), he places the blame on mortal and material entities, some of which are human beings. Furthermore, Socrates argues in Book II that “we won’t allow the poet to say that the punished are made wretched and that it was a god who made them so. But we will allow them to say that bad people are wretched because they are in need of punishment.”12 The concept of punishment entails ethical accountability, suggesting that mortal entities are the cause of their own evils rather than the gods, due to the fact that humans are a synthesis of divine soul and material body and are thus imperfectly rational beings. So, why does Plato include the mythopoetic allegorization, after Socrates’ logical arguments presented in Book II? Pierre Destrée suggests that the allegory of the cave “is an intellectual tool to put us smoothly on the path of understanding how central the Form of the Good is, and to give us food for thinking about how it should be conceived as the ‘cause of knowledge and being’ of good things.”13 However, aside from being a mere intellectual tool, Plato also employs several poetic devices in the allegory of the cave, such as “how emphatically [he] repeats the verb ‘see’ in the imperative […] making Socrates urge Glaucon (and the audience) to place the scenery vividly before his eyes […]”14 and the symbol of the cave “as a theater where 9 “θέμις δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἦν οὔτ᾽ ἔστιν τῷ ἀρίστῳ δρᾶν ἄλλο πλὴν τὸ κάλλιστο.” Plato, “Timaeus,” trans. Donald J. Zeyl, in The Complete Works of Plato, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), 29e1-30b1. 10 Plato, “Timaeus,” 29d2. 11 Plato, “Timaeus,” 29d2. 12 Plato, “The Republic,” II., 380b1-4. 13 Pierre Destrée, “On Plato’s Myths and Allegories in the Republic,” in Plato and Myth: Studies on the Use and Status of Platonic Myths, eds. Catherine Collobert, Pierre Destrée, and Francisco J. Gonzalez (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 117-8. 14 Destrée, “On Plato’s Myths,” 118.


the prisoners are watchers of a show.”15 Plato represents his aesthetic principles, and by extension his ethical theories, in mythopoetic form to emotionally affect his reader, suggesting that mere intellectual argumentation is not enough to seriously exhort one to practice philosophy. The image of the prisoners in the cave, who are “like us” (ὁμοίους ἡμῖν),16 serves as an exhortation to Glaucon (to whom the myth is addressed) to understand that he is “a prisoner in his own cultural and political world. But realizing this cannot possibly be just a pure intellectualist understanding that life would be better off only if he decided to […] get out of his prison.”17 The allegory of the cave thus forces Glaucon, and indeed the reader herself, to vividly imagine what it would be like to be a prisoner in the cave, thereby compelling her to desire a life beyond it-that is, a life devoted to philosophy. A life dedicated to the pursuit of philosophy is, on Plato’s view, a life of true intellectual, ethical, and metaphysical freedom―freedom from the chains of ignorance which bind the prisoners of the cave, freedom from the tyrannical appetitive and emotional desires of the lower parts of the soul for money, food, and sex, and freedom from the chaotic and transitory realm of matter and opinion, towards the stable and unchanging concepts of knowledge itself. Nonetheless, Plato acknowledges that the logical argument that the Good must serve as the model for one’s life is only grasped with great difficulty, and a mere intellectual argument exhorting one to pursue it does not seem sufficient in Plato's view to achieve that protreptic realignment. Imitation and poetry have a further protreptic value for the orientation to philosophical truth. According to Francisco G. Gonzalez, “rather than condemning imitation as completely cut off from the true reality, to which only the human or divine demiurge has access […] the sensible image [provokes] a desire for that intelligible reality of which it is an image.”18 Plato considered images to be essential for the

Destrée, “On Plato’s Myths,” 118. Plato, “The Republic,” VII. 515a3. 17 Destrée, “On Plato’s Myths,” 119. 18 Francisco G. Gonzalez, “The Philosophical Uses of Mimesis,” in The Many Faces of Mimesis, eds. Heather L. Reid and Jeremy C. DeLong (Parnassos Press, 2018), 30. 15 16


appreciation and longing for knowledge, with Gonzalez offering support for this view in the erotic nature of philosophical activity.19 Indeed, when Socrates is explaining the nature of the form of the Good, which Glaucon “wanted to hear about,” Plato uses the verb ‘ἐπιθυμεῖς.’ Given that ἐπιθυμoς is the name of the ‘lowest’ element of the tripartite soul, namely appetite, Plato’s word choice suggests that myths impact not only one’s logical or rational sensibilities, but also her emotional and appetitive desires.20 Some stories do this in a negative way, such as the stories of Homer, whereas Plato’s own myths, because they embody his moral principles, affect the irrational parts of the soul in the proper way. The myth of Er is Plato’s mythopoetic counter proposition to the traditional Greek myths about the afterlife. According to Plato, the mythmakers ought “not to disparage the life in Hades in this unconditional way, but rather to praise it, since what they now say is neither true nor beneficial.”21 Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey represent death incorrectly on Plato’s view, such as Odysseus’ katabasis into the underworld, during which he meets the shade of Achilles who 19 While erotic tones are not as obviously present in the Republic as, for example, the Symposium or the Phaedrus, Socrates in Book VI nonetheless describes that “it is the nature of the real lover of learning [φιλομαθής] to struggle toward what is [and…] as he moves on he neither loses nor lessens his erotic love [τοῦ ἔρωτος] until he grasps the being of nature itself […And] once getting near what really is and having intercourse [συγγενεῖ] with it and having begotten understanding and truth, he knows, truly lives, is nourished, and – at that point, but not before – is relieved from the pains of giving birth” (Plato, “The Republic,” 490a8-b6). See also Book X: “We must realize what [the soul] grasps and longs to have intercourse with, because it is akin to the divine and immortal and what always is, and we must realize what it would become if it followed this longing with its whole being” (Plato, “The Republic,” 611e1-4). 20 Some authors, such as Robert W. Hall, have suggested that “The poets criticized by Plato work only by way of an inadequate right opinion or imagining and have not the proper knowledge to implement these qualities in the work of art. Dominated by the irrational aspect of the soul, they appeal to the irrational part of the soul in others” (Robert W. Hall, “Art and Morality in Plato: A Reappraisal, The Journal of Aesthetic Education 24, no.3 (Autumn 1990): 11). I would argue that while it is certainly true that Plato criticized certain poets for crafting art incorrectly, the main issue is not that they appealed to the irrational soul elements of their audience, for Plato seems to be doing the same thing with his own myths. In fact, so long as myths embody the proper aesthetic principles, they should aim at the emotions and desires of the audience, since Plato believed that human beings by their nature require more than just logical truth to accept and be persuaded by a certain normative philosophical view. 21 Plato, “The Republic,” III. 386b7-9.


laments to him: “I would rather labor on earth in service to another, to a man who is landless, with little to live on, than be king over all the dead.”22 In addition, a soul in the underworld is described by Homer as “a mere phantasm, with its wits completely gone.”23 On Socrates’ reasoning, such representations of the afterlife (and in particular making Achilles, the mythic hero who above all was the embodiment of Greek aretē, openly admit that he would prefer to be a living slave than a dead king), cause people to fear death and become enslaved to this fear. The surface level reason to represent death as a good (or at least neutral) thing rather than an evil is to encourage the guardians, who at this stage in the argument of the Republic are simply the soldiers of Kallipolis, to be fearless and brave when they inevitably go to war, and thus become good protectors of the city. Plato notes, however, that the guardians are not only defenders of the city’s external or physical threats, but (perhaps more importantly) are also the defenders of the abstract values and educational system of Kallipolis. The true worry seems to be that somebody who has been conditioned to fear death will do anything to avoid it, even if that means acting unjustly or wickedly. For Plato, living unjustly is a far worse fate than death: Socrates makes this very point in the Apology when he says “it is not difficult to avoid death, gentlemen; it is much more difficult to avoid wickedness [πονηρίαν], for it runs faster than death.”24 Socrates argues that death is not a thing to be feared and ought to be preferred over injustice perpetrated in life. Plato in turn wants his citizens not to be wicked or unjust, even in the face of potential death, and the representations of the underworld presented by the traditional poets are not conducive to imparting these ethical values.

Odyssey XI.489-91, quoted at Rep. III. 386c5-7. Iliad XXIII.103-4, quoted at Rep. III. 386d4. 24 “θᾶττον γὰρ θανάτου θεῖ.” Plato, “The Apology,” trans. G.M.A. Grube, in The Complete Works of Plato, ed. John M. Cooper (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997), 39b1-2. 22 23


The myth of Er begins with a katabasis of a “brave Pamphylian man called Er,”25 who is given the opportunity to witness the sights and spectacles of the underworld. Rather than the underworld being a wretched place, even for the excellent Achilles, Socrates shows that one’s positive or negative experience in the afterlife is dependent upon her actions in life. The just souls who “had done good deeds and had become just and pious […] were rewarded,”26 whereas the unjust souls, “for each in turn of the unjust things they had done and for each in turn of the people they had wronged […] paid the penalty ten times over.”27 Furthermore, the souls in the myth have possession of their minds and deliberative faculties, unlike the flitting and mindless shades described by Homer, and are able to choose their next reincarnated life: “a daemon or guardian spirit will not be assigned to [them] by lot; [they] will choose [αἱρήσεσθε] them.”28 Indeed, the souls who practiced philosophy in life are able to choose which life is the best to be reincarnated into, whereas an unjust tyrant who spent his life driven by appetitive desires “in his folly and greed […] chose [a life of tyranny] without adequate examination [ἀνασκεψάμενον] and didn’t notice that, among other evils, he was fated to eat his own children.”29 Plato portrays the underworld as a favourable place for the just and good, thus persuading his readers that death is nothing to be feared so long as one led a just and ethical life. Much like the allegory of the cave, Destrée points out that “this whole fantastic scenery of souls or people choosing their new life should be contemplated as a mirror-like description of the usual way people choose their lives.”30 The spectacular aspects of the myth of Er thus play the same protreptic role as those in the allegory of the cave, with the myth of Er acting as the thematic completion of the allegory of the cave; while in the allegory of the cave, the philosopher truly begins her life after her ascent from the underworld-like cave, the myth of Er represents the Plato, “The Republic,” X.614b2-3. Plato, “The Republic,” X. 615b8-9. 27 Plato, “The Republic,” X. 615a6-8. 28 Plato, “The Republic,” X. 617d9-10. 29 Plato, “The Republic,” X. 619b8-10. 30 Destrée, “Plato’s Myths,” 121. 25 26


philosopher’s death and descent into the underworld, as well as her subsequent rebirth. According to Radcliffe G. Edmonds III, Plato understood the “power of persuasive imagery,”31 recognizing that “fantastic images in the narrative, crafted by the artist’s skill, impress themselves upon the audience, creating a vivid encapsulation of the ideas the teller is trying to express.”32 As such, Plato does not in fact abandon myth, regarding it as something inherently useless for the philosopher and the pursuit of truth, but rather considers it to be an intrinsically valuable mode of persuasion due to its affective impact on human beings’ desires and emotions. Comparison of Plato’s philosophical arguments regarding aesthetic theory and his own aesthetic poiēsis reveals that although Plato took a generally negative stance on the existing myths in antiquity, particularly those of Homer and Hesiod, he nevertheless acknowledged the importance of myths and art in societal education and moral habituation. If Plato’s logical arguments for the truth and necessity of pursuing the philosophical life in fact hold true, why did he find it necessary to represent the same arguments in mythopoetic form? That is, shouldn’t Socrates’ logoi be enough to attest to the importance of philosophy and morality? Plato’s use of mythopoetic discourse in the Republic suggests that he did not consider mere logical truth to be enough to exhort people to practice philosophy. In other words, the mere abstract knowledge of the truth of a proposition is not sufficient to compel an individual to follow and embody that proposition. This represents a novel development in Plato’s moral psychology and his divergence from the views of the historical Socrates, who believed that epistemological understanding of a proposition was sufficient to exhort one to pursue those truths. Socrates’ essential intellectualism, as understood by Alexander Nehamas, is the belief that “only knowledge is relevant to right action. [Socrates] also appears to hold that such knowledge can only be reached by means of the elenchus, by means, that is, of strictly 31 Radcliffe G. Edmonds III, Myths of the Underworld Journey (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 12. 32 Edmonds, Myths of the Underworld Journey, 12.


intellectual argument. Our character and the other affective features of our personality are irrelevant to such argument.”33 On the other hand, Plato’s Republic suggests that Plato disagreed with Socrates’ strict intellectualism, believing emotional habituation to be of paramount importance for leading a eudaimonic life. The early Socratic dialogues (Euthyphro, Laches, Lesser Hippias, etc.) represent the Socratic elenchus alone, and thus his logoi or syllogistic arguments, and are for the most part devoid of myths. It is only in the so-called middle and late period dialogues, of which the Republic is an example, that Plato distances himself from the strictly intellectualist view of Socrates, positing that human beings must be educated in both the proper emotional and appetitive responses as well as logical arguments concerning truth and morality. Unsurprisingly, it is in the later dialogues that Plato utilizes myth as a methodological complement to the logical conclusions of the Socratic elenchus. It is clear from Plato’s lengthy discussion about the nature of paideia and the necessity of inculcating proper morals with a view to harmonizing the soul that Plato took a different stance on human nature than his mentor. All of this suggests that Plato’s philosophy was essentially protreptic, and that he believed myth and art to be an essential component of the successful exhortation to the philosophic life.

33 Alexander Nehamas, “Socratic Intellectualism,” in Virtues of Authenticity: Essays on Plato and Socrates, ed. Alexander Nehamas (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999), 45.


Bibliography PRIMARY SOURCES Plato, “The Apology.” Translated by G.M.A. Grube. In The Complete Works of Plato, edited by John M. Cooper, 17-36. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. Plato, “The Republic.” Translated by G.M.A. Grube and rev. C.D.C. Reeve. In The Complete Works of Plato, edited by John M. Cooper, 971-1223. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. Plato, “Timaeus.” Translated by Donald J. Zeyl. In The Complete Works of Plato, edited by John M. Cooper, 1224-1291. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. SECONDARY SOURCES Destrée, Pierre. “Spectacles from Hades. On Plato’s Myths and Allegories in the Republic.” In Plato and Myth: Studies on the Use and Status of Platonic Myths, edited by Catherine Collobert, Pierre Destrée, and Francisco J. Gonzales, 109-126. Leiden: Brill, 2012. Edmonds, Radcliffe G., III. Myths of the Underworld Journey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Gonzalez, Francisco J. “The Philosophical Use of Mimēsis.” In The Many Faces of Mimesis, edited by Heather L. Reid and Jeremy C. DeLong, 23–36. Parnassos Press, 2018. Hall, Robert W. “Art and Morality in Plato: A Reappraisal.” The Journal of Aesthetic Education 24, no. 3 (Autumn 1990): 5-13. Nehamas, Alexander. “Socratic Intellectualism.” In Virtues of Authenticity: Essays on Plato and Socrates, edited by Alexander Nehamas, 27-58. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999.


The Good Shepherd Analyzing the Depiction of Jesus Christ in the Early Christian Catacombs Jeffrey Rowe “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.” Psalm 23:1-3

The conquests of the Roman Empire greatly expanded its political and religious authority across the Mediterranean. As the Empire moved east, new religious interactions continued to reinvent Roman religion by introducing a number of cult groups into the Empire’s cultural center. Among them, the early Christian community in Rome steadily grew in numbers and public acknowledgement following decades of conflict. Artistic renditions of Biblical passages appeared throughout Rome in the second and third centuries of the common era, especially in hidden spaces including the Catacombs of Priscilla. The object under analysis is the depiction of Jesus Christ as the “Good Shepherd” in the catacomb of Priscilla, circa 300 CE (Figure 1). This essay will argue that early Christian cults in the Roman Empire adopted contemporary symbology into their depictions of Biblical text. This reflected the cultural mosaic of Roman religion in which different religious groups utilized Graeco-Roman artistic and political systems in order to legitimate their communities within the wider Empire. To do this, the historical context in Rome must be explored in order to reflect the presence of early Christian cult groups and their growing acknowledgement through Emperor Constantine. An analysis of the fresco’s representation as a cult symbol and symbol of death


demonstrates the legitimization of Christian doctrine through visual symbols of contemporary Graeco-Roman art movements. The ambiguity of the dynamic religious structures of Rome enabled a number of foreign cults to find authority and prestige within the Empire. Policies towards religious pluralism did not affect much in terms of cementing an official system but rather appeared to encourage various sorts of non-state communal structures.1 In some regards, the cultic structures entering Rome existed as states within states. For example, the councils of the early Christian Church reflected a hierarchical system similar to those of the official Roman state whereby imitating the structures of priestly colleges.2 In many ways this provided systems through which Christian communities could establish authority but also challenge aspects of Roman life. Christian deviation from the religious structures of Rome increased many of the tensions both politically and socially, informing the Roman justification for Christian persecution.3 However, in cases such as the Cult of Bacchus, communal cults began to gain attention from the public, forcing the senate to step in and suppress religious activity.4 Thus, early Christian groups used the image of Jesus Christ within the hidden catacombs in order to symbolically represent their spirituality without provoking Roman religious officials. However, the increasing interest in Christianity on the part of Emperor Constantine reshaped the presence of the Christian community in the Empire. Enacted in 313 CE, the Edict of Milan established Christian religious tolerance throughout the Empire. The Edict, in addition to Constantine’s conversion to Christianity, was the beginning of the development of Christianity’s hegemonic authority over the Roman 1 Clifford Ando, Imperial Rome AD 193-284: The Critical Century, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012), 123. 2 Dimiter Angelov and Judith Herrin, “The Christian Imperial Tradition - Greek and Latin,” in Universal Empire: A Comparative Approach to Imperial Culture and Representation in Eurasian History, eds. Peter Fibiger Bang and Dariusz Kolodziejczyk (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), 163. 3 R. A. Markus, “The Roman Empire in Early Christian Historiography,” The Downside Review 81, no. 265 (1963): 342. 4 Sarolta A. Takács, “Politics and Religion in the Bacchanalia Affair of 186 B.C.E,” HSCP 100 (2000): 302.


Empire.5 Prior to Constantine, many Roman emperors saw Christian communities as threats to statte religion and the Empire because of the opposition in religious interpretations. Constantine’s contribution to the movement of Christian artwork, especially the good shepherd motif, was promoted through public propaganda, referring to himself explicitly as the shepherd leading his flock.6 This self-identification suggests that Constantine viewed himself as not only the leader of the Roman Empire but of the Christian communities living within its boundaries, politically and spiritually. Constantine inaugurated many Christian Imperialization processes that encultured religion into official Roman civic life.7 Although there are no official depictions of Constantine using the shepherd motif, later Christian artistic developments explicitly align Jesus Christ and the good shepherd with Roman imperial imagery. Early Christian artwork sought to visually depict passages from the Bible. Existing with the larger Graeco-Roman systems, early Christian communities relied upon contemporary artistic symbols and motifs. The good shepherd motif was not new when it was applied in the catacombs of Priscilla in 300. Rather, artists appropriated a type of figure long used prior in Roman art.8 The depiction of Christ in the catacomb, a standing figure surrounded by lambs, is similar to earlier visualizations of Hermes. The Gospel of John reflects on Jesus Christ as the leader: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”9 In Greek religion the messenger god, Hermes, was often represented similarly, portrayed as “lord of the flock” and as carrying a goat.10 This complicates the interpretation of the figure in the Christian catacomb because of the greater Mediterranean association of the imagery with another religious figure. Therefore, 5 William S. Babcock, “Image and Culture: An Approach to the Christianization of the Roman Empire,” Perkins Journal 41, no. 3 (July 1988): 2. 6 Jennifer Awes Freeman, “The Good Shepherd and the Enthroned Ruler: A Reconsideration of Imperial Iconography in the Early Church,” in Art of Empire: Christian Art in Its Imperial Context, eds. Lee. Jefferson and Robin Margaret Jensen (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015), 185. 7 Freeman, “The Good Shepherd and the Enthroned Ruler,” 186. 8 G. Ernest Wright, “The Good Shepherd,” The Biblical Archaeologist 2, no. 4 (1939): 46. 9 John 10: 11-12. 10 Wright, “The Good Shepherd,” 48.


Jesus Christ’s connection with Hermes depicts the application of preexisting discourses of divine representation as found in the fresco within the catacombs of Priscilla.11 Acknowledging this, Christian incorporation of Roman political and religious structures enabled artistic expression in the depiction of their cult icons. This was not the first occurrence of cultural intermingling. In fact, much of Rome’s religious foundation was adopted from outside the city. However, the image of Christ in the Catacomb of Priscilla is significant in discerning the symbology behind the fresco and their interpreted meanings. Evoking a vague sense of philanthropy also found in Graeco-Roman tradition, Jesus Christ was associated with deliverance and guidance to the afterlife, as was the case with Hermes.12 Portrayed as humbly looking down upon the catacombs from the domed ceiling, the fresco represents early Biblical ideologies. Its placement depicts Christ from above, seemingly in wait to collect his “flock” of souls. The Gospel of John deals with the eschatological idea that Christ will return for the dead: “very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”13 The funerary context appeared natural in this case, ensuring proper burial ritual for Christians in the Empire. The re-appropriation of the Graeco-Roman tradition enabled early Christian communities to have a visual foundation on which to redevelop new meaning based on the sacred text. The pastoral imagery of the fresco reflects an emphasis on the natural world. The figure is situated between two lambs, with one on his shoulders, with two birds on two green trees. I propose that the connection between the symmetry of the animals and the natural world reflects divine balance encompassing Christ, thereby emphasizing Jesus Christ as the mediator in the balance of the natural order. Reflective of this balance, Psalm 23 is presented as a funerary text depicting the shepherd going to collect the recently deceased. Peace and tranquillity are seemingly promised where “The Lord is my Babcock, “Image and Culture,” 8. Freeman, “The Good Shepherd and the Enthroned Ruler,” 184. 13 John 5:25. 11 12


shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters […]”14 The humble portrayal of Christ the Good Shepherd in the catacomb was worshiped during the death ritual of Christian groups and became a cult icon within the Empire.15 This symbol was intended to ensure that the dead are properly delivered to the afterlife as early Christian communities could not publicly participate in their religion’s rituals. In conclusion, early Christian groups in Rome utilized existing political and artistic conventions in order to express and legitimate their communal structures within the larger realm of Roman religion. Within the context of the Graeco-Roman tradition, depictions of Christ used pre-existing cultural symbols like the Good Shepherd in order to create a sense of the figure’s identity. The context of the fresco outside the Catacomb of Priscilla would be interpreted as a figure like Hermes from the Hellenic tradition, although within the Christian setting it captures passages from Biblical literature of the early third century. By the fourth century of the common era, Christianity would be the official religion of the Roman Empire, under which depictions of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd continued to flourish, directly applying imperial and royal designs to reinforce Christianity’s newfound power.

14 15

Psalm 23:1-2. Wright, “The Good Shepherd,” 46.


Bibliography Ando, Clifford. “Chapter 6: Religion.” In Imperial Rome AD 193-284: The Critical Century. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2012. Angelov, Dimiter, and Judith Herrin. “The Christian Imperial Tradition – Greek and Latin.” In Universal Empire: A Comparative Approach to Imperial Culture and Representation in Eurasian History. Edited by Peter Fibiger Bang and Dariusz Kolodziejczyk, 149–74. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. Babcock, William S. “Image and Culture: An Approach to the Christianization of the Roman Empire.” Perkins Journal 41, 3 (July 1988): 1–10. Freeman, Jennifer Awes. “The Good Shepherd and the Enthroned Ruler: A Reconsideration of Imperial Iconography in the Early Church.” In Art of Empire: Christian Art in Its Imperial Context. Edited by Lee M. Jefferson and Robin Margaret Jensen. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015. Markus, R. A. "The Roman Empire in Early Christian Historiography." The Downside Review 81, 265 (1963): 340-54. Takács, Sarolta A. “Politics and Religion in the Bacchanalia Affair of 186 B.C.E.” HSCP 100 (2000): 301–10. Wright, G. Ernest. "The Good Shepherd." The Biblical Archaeologist 2, 4 (1939): 44-48.



1 (above) Christ the Good Shepherd, ca. 300 AD, Catacomb of Priscilla, Rome, Italy. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=49959


The Lapis Niger Traversing the Limits of Material Evidence Samuele Langille Abstract The Lapis Niger is one of the most debated artefacts from classical antiquity. In this paper, I argue that the efforts undertaken by Roman leaders such as Julius Caesar to protect the Lapis Niger space in the first century B.C.E. suggest that Romans held a conception of sacred space that was similar to their understanding of deities. For Romans, such space accommodated a profusion of beliefs and sacred associations that did not alter the fundamental sacredness of the space itself. Part I: Excavation On January 10, 1899, a team of excavators led by Giacomo Boni discovered a curious trapezoidal slab of black marble balustrade located in the Comitium, the political epicenter of ancient Rome.1 Upon removing the slab, archeologists uncovered a flight of stairs leading to a 6th-century BCE monumental shrine consisting of a U-shaped altar and chipped cippus, or landmark stone, inscribed with warnings.2 The Lapis Niger site, as it came to be known, has sparked debate amongst scholars of classical antiquity ever since.3 Though the truncated nature of the cippus, which dates back to the Regal or Monarchical Period of Rome, prevents full exploration of the site’s various mythological associations, the repeated attempts to

1 Filippo Coarelli, Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide (Berkley: University of California Press, 2014): 89-92. 2 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 89-92. 3 Boris Rankov, “The Epigraphic Record,” in A Companion to the City of Rome, ed. Claire Holleran and Amanda Claridge (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2014), 20.


protect the Lapis Niger space, such as the instillation of the inscribed cippus next to the religious altar and Julius Caesar’s memorialization of the area within the Comitium, nevertheless point to a fluid and distinctly Roman conception of sacred space that corresponds with broader shifts towards religious eclecticism in ancient Rome, as evidenced by the adoption of foreign deities by way of the evocatio ceremony. The following investigation is therefore valuable to the reconstruction of the Roman religious landscape because it extends notions associated with deity worship, specifically the function of deities as mannequins onto which various attributes are projected without altering the underlying deity itself, to sacred space as well.4 Part II: The Black Stone5 The Black Stone, or Lapis Niger, is a slab of marble installed by Roman dictator Julius Caesar in the 1st century CE to protect an ancient monumental shrine from harm.6 Scholars dated the site by analyzing the cippus and shrine beneath the marble itself. The “votive material” of the altar and sanctuary contain fragments of Greek pottery dated to the 6th century BCE.7 The site boasts a multiplicity of mythological associations. While some traditions first identified the site as “the location of the tomb of the shepherd Faustulus [who looked after Romulus and Remus],” others thought it held “Hostus Hostilius [contemporary of Romulus], the grandfather of the third King of Rome.”8 By contrast, Festus maintains that the space is the site of Romulus’ assassination at the hands of the Senate, one of Livy’s various accounts of Romulus’ final days; others believe it to be an ancient site of Vulcan worship, though this is contested.9

4 Heidi Wendt, At the Temple Gates: The Religion of Freelance Experts in the Roman Empire (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016). 5 See Fig. 3, 4, 5, and 6 6 John N. Hopkins, “Comitium,” in The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, ed. Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige B. Champion, Andrew Erskine, and Sabine R. Huebner (Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 2014): 1689. 7 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 91. 8 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 91. 9 Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 91.


When it comes to the function of the site itself, scholars are even more divided than the ancients. What did the space mean to the Romans? One way to address this question is to refer to the inscription on the truncated cippus, which was intended to be read in boustrophedon style, or “left to right and right to left in alternative lines,”10 (Figures 1 and 2). As noted, the bulk of the text is illegible. Yet one line is not, and reads “may the one who will violate this place be consecrated [condemned] to the gods of the underworld.” While this at first appears to be little more than a generic ominous warning reflective of the times, it is actually a distinct Latin formulaic curse associated with “royal laws,” or leges regiae, from the Monarchical or Regal Period.11 More often than not, such inscriptions are found next to altars, and are often concerned with protecting sacred space. In fact, the cippus overlaid with marble by Caesar is next to an altar, which suggests that the inscription is, more specifically, a lex arae, or a “ritual and sacrificial regulation pertaining to the site.”12 This also implies that the cippus, which would have been displayed publicly, says more about state-funded, prescriptive, or “official” religio than “private” practice, contrasting sharply with other explored material evidence more indicative of the private realm, such as curse tablets buried by donae beneath graves. As noted by Filippo Caorelli, the cippus thus was both a prescriptive legal measure and a religious warning to anyone who might transgress the sacred nature of the space. But why did kings, by way of the inscribed cippus, care to protect the space in the first place? Why did Caesar later overlay the space with pavement and marble, effectively sealing it within the Comitium? I aim to answer these questions in the following section.

Rankov, “The Epigraphic Record,” 21. Coarelli, Rome and Environs, 91. 12 Coarelli, Rome and Environ, 91. 10 11


Part III: Space, Religion, and the Intersection in Between To understand the significance of the Lapis Niger site, I must first divorce the space from modern conceptions of sacred space. For twenty-first century practitioners of religion, space is often understood as a hermetically-sealed microcosm into which social or religious foreignness cannot penetrate. For instance, churches rarely double as mosques. From this perspective, the gravity with which Roman kings and other rulers approached the safeguarding of the space seems unreasonable. Only a Roman understanding of the intersection between sacred space and the divine can render intelligible the extensive efforts undertaken by rulers to protect the Lapis Niger site from harm. In this section, I argue that Romans understood sacred space much in the same way as they understood gods; that is, the treatment of sacred space mirrored the way in which gods were scrubbed of their foreign origins when incorporated into the Roman religious pantheon. Noteworthy examples include the importation of the Cult of Magna Mater and the adoption of the Persephone myth from the Greeks, whereby Romans changed the site of Persephone or Proserpina’s abduction to the Aventine Hill. For them, it was not the underlying particulars, which varied by gens and social strata, that made a god divine as much as an underlying collective acceptance of a god’s purported divinity. For instance, both plebeian and patrician classes alike accepted the conceptual validity of the pomerium, or sacred boundary, that divinely demarcated the urbs, or city, from the surrounding rurs, or rural area. Romans even exported their conceptions of sacred space to colonies, erecting simulacra pomeria in Roman coloniae that, though not sacred in their own right, mirrored the inherent sacredness of Rome’s.13 Romans therefore practiced a kind of “spatial tolerance” that accommodated a profusion of beliefs, myths, and practices without

13 Mary Beard, John North and Simon Price, Religions of Rome: Volume 1, A History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998): 320.


contradicting one another, wherein foreignness was permitted as long as it was stripped of social and ethnic particularity and modified to fit within an explicitly Roman framework.14 In this case, it was not foreignness itself that was stripped, but the mythological histories attached to the space. Fitting into broader trends towards religious eclecticism in ancient Rome, this conception of sacred space also differed from surrounding cults, both past and present, such as the Judeans, who claimed that their principal site of worship, the Temple of Jerusalem, held room for only the Judean god. Romans thus retained a more accommodating and inclusive conception of religious space than their Judean counterparts: individuals or groups could lay to sacred space their own spiritual or mythological claims without transgressing the sacred nature of the space itself. That Caesar cemented the space in the political epicenter of ancient Rome is also telling: it points to the significance of Roman religion in political life. As noted by Cicero in a first-century CE speech to the pontifices, religion and politics were not mutually exclusive in Rome; rather, they necessarily overlapped in order to maintain the Pax Deorum, or divine-mortal equilibrium.15 The vitality of the state was predicated on a prudent interpretation of religion. Whereas Western societies necessitate a strict divide between religion and politics in the twenty-first century, Romans understood the two domains to be more intertwined. This understanding paralleled the pragmatism underwriting gender roles in ancient Greece, wherein women’s private management of the oikos, or household, allowed men to publicly maintain the polis, or city, in a united effort to keep Athens afloat. Protecting the space was therefore vital to the continuance of Rome itself. When contextualized, the motives behind the centuries-long protection of the Lapis Niger site suggest a fundamental and invariable 14 Heidi Wendt, “Ea Superstitione: Christian Martyrdom and the Religion of Freelance Experts,” The Journal of Roman Studies 58 (2015): 183-202. 15 Cicero, 1.1.1, “Cicero: The Speech Concerning his House Delivered Before the College of Pontiffs,” in Loeb Classical Library Vol. 1, trans. N. H. Watts (London: William Heinemann / New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1918), 132-133.


sacredness independent of transitory or conflicting mythological associations. In this way, sacred space was almost an institution: it was not the mythical or historical significance of the space itself that held weight, but the collective affirmation of its inherent sacredness. While this may have been a product of past or present myth-making, it was not exclusively tied to it: the significance of the space could evolve with the Romans. Furthermore, sacred space was protected by prescriptive laws, much like those regulating the worship of gods. This investigation into the Lapis Niger site is therefore valuable to the reconstruction of the religious landscape because it illustrates that sacred spaces functioned similarly to Roman deities, or mannequins onto which gens, individuals or entire strata could project unique qualities without altering the deity itself. Part IV: Limitations of Material Evidence Various limitations exist for any scholar hoping to reconstruct the past from material evidence and the Lapis Niger shrine is no different. Due to the truncated nature of the cippus, scholars have no way of knowing what the top half might have said. For instance, the absent half may have negated the prescriptive message of the bottom, in which case the cippus might not have been a prescriptive religious measure for that generation as much as a memorial of ancient belief. Even if this is not the case, the lack of half of the inscription makes it increasingly difficult to make conclusive claims regarding the potential relationship between religion and space. Likewise, Caesar’s circumscription of the shrine in black marble may be nothing more than a way to commemorate the past, so to speak. It does not assist in the reconstruction of the Roman religious landscape as much as it illuminates Caesar’s desire to preserve an ancient artifact to curry political support. This interpretation fits into the trend of Late Republican elites inserting themselves into narratives of the past to acquire social capital. Vis-à-vis this potential interpretation, I may be even more mistaken than previously thought. Caesar’s efforts to protect the Lapis Niger space point to little more than his desire to accrue political power by inserting himself into narratives of the past.


Part V: Why the Investigation is Still Productive While it is not impossible to think that the top half would differ so radically from the bottom, the interpretation of the visible fragments and its perceived association with the leges regae make this unlikely. Moreover, Caesarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s protection of the space did not occur in a vacuum; rather, it was a continuation of a greater protective effort started by the instalment of the prescriptive cippus nearly seven centuries prior. Thus, though the repeated attempts to protect the space may not provide conclusive evidence for an understanding of spatial sacredness that paralleled the way in which Romans understood their deities, when situated within a sea of broader historical evidence such as the widespread conceptual acceptance of the pomerium, and trends towards religious eclecticism at both elite and plebeian levels as evidenced by evocatio ceremonies that permitted foreignness as long as it was scrubbed of ethnic and cultural particularity, the site of the Lapis Niger nevertheless suggests that Romans did hold a unique, fluid, and distinctly Roman conception of sacred space that transcended particulars and accommodated disparate and often contradictory mythological associations. This contrasts sharply with both present-day and ancient understandings of sacred space such as that of the Judeans. In other words, the investigation of the Lapis Niger site is profitable as a window into the Roman religious world because it elucidates an understanding of space that parallels the way in which Romans conceptualized their deities, and therefore extends notions of Roman deity worship to sacred space as well. Part VI: Conclusion As a result of this investigation, scholars of classical antiquity now have a greater conceptual understanding of the multiplicity of ways in which Romans approached, identified, and interacted with sacred space. Further research might shift the scope from religion and space and focus on the significance of the ancient Rostra next to the Lapis Niger site, and what this might have meant for Romans in terms of


their political life.16 Nevertheless, the realization that Romans held a unique conception of sacred space bodes well for the future of religious scholarship of Rome. As such, I suspect that this exploration of the Lapis Niger site, in tandem with broader religious developments and trends towards eclecticism in ancient Rome, will inform the work of scholars of antiquity for many years to come.


See Fig. 4.


Bibliography Beard, Mary, John North and Simon Price. Religions of Rome: Volume 1, A History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998. Cicero. The Speech Concerning his House Delivered Before the College of Pontiffs. Translated by N. H. Watts. Loeb Classical Library Vol. 1. Loeb Classical Library. London: William Heinemann / New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1918. Coarelli, Filippo. Rome and Environs: An Archaeological Guide. Berkley: University of California Press, 2014. Cbanta. Lapis Niger Inscription. 2011. Digital Image. Museum of Rome, Rome, Italy. Digitales Forum Romanum. Comitum. 2019. Digital Image. Digitales Forum Romanum, Rome. Hopkins, John N. “Comitium.” In The Encyclopedia of Ancient History. Edited by Roger S. Bagnall, Kai Brodersen, Craige B. Champion, Andrew Erskine, and Sabine R. Huebner. Hoboken: Blackwell Publishing, 2014. Rankov, Boris. “The Epigraphic Record.” In A Companion to the City of Rome. Edited by Claire Holleran and Amanda Claridge. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2014. Romano Impero. Lapis Niger. 2010. Digital Image. Romano Impero, Rome, Italy. Wendt, Heidi. At the Temple Gates: The Religion of Freelance Experts in the Roman Empire. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016. Wendt, Heidi. “Ea Superstitione: Christian Martyrdom and the Religion of Freelance Experts.” The Journal of Roman Studies 58 (2015): 183-202.


Figures 1 (Below, Left) Filippo Coarelliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Transcription 2 (Right) Second transcription and Text

3 (Above, Left) The Comitium and Lapis Niger 4 (Above, Right) The Monumental Shrine

5 (Far Left) The Lapis Niger Inscription 6 (Left) The Lapis Niger


Body Language Tebtunis’ Corporal Landscape of Violence Marina Martin Violence enacted against slaves is manifest in the scars it leaves behind, whether by branding, tattooing, whipping or exposure to dangerous work environments. Generally, scholars assume, based on primarily literary sources, that these scars permanently marked slaves and former slaves out in the community, causing shame postmanumission and serving as humiliating reminders of a servile past.1 However, literary accounts of slavery inherently privilege the elite perspective, and often present a simplistic account that perpetuates particular narrative tropes, while lived experiences may have been entirely different. One such experience can be accessed through P. Mich. V 244, a guild ordinance from Tebtunis.2 This papyrus details the rules of a voluntary association of tenants on an imperial estate (απολύσιμοι) and describes its undersigned members through their names (including filiation genitive), ages, and their bodily scars.3 These members are likely either freedpeople bearing the marks of enslaved violence or freeborn tenant farmers bearing the marks of labor and potentially punishment. The uncertainty surrounding the status of these scar-bearing individuals indicates fluidity in how freedpeople and freeborn poor would have appeared and presented themselves. This description of physical scars does not account for 1 Kamen, Deborah. "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS: REPRESENTING SLAVE MARKS IN ANTIQUITY." Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 55 (2010): 97. 2 Please see the appendix for a complete translation of the Greek. 3 The word απολύσιμοι is difficult to translate, and is left in the Greek in scholarship regarding the papyrus. It appears to carry dual meanings of both απολύω, “to loosen from” and “workable” in the LSJ. The combination of these two meanings can bring to mind the idea of retirement, which may be misleading, so when referenced, the members of the association will be referred to as απολύσιμοι if not “members.”


the psychological trauma inherent in the transition from slave to freedman. However, the ordinance carries implications in understanding this transition physically, if, once manumitted, the former slave would be able to physically appear as though they had been freeborn. Thus, these scars highlight the status ambiguity of this associationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s members, as they have signaled that an individual is or was enslaved. These scars also may have blended into a corporal landscape littered with physical markers of past labor and experience with violence. Husselman, Boak, and Edgarton infer that the association depicted in P. Mich. V 244 â&#x20AC;&#x153;was either a religious association or an organization for convivial purposesâ&#x20AC;? for tenants on an imperial estate.4 Both contexts imply a high degree of interpersonal connection among members, generating a common community on the estate. Indeed, the content of the papyrus is focused on regulating the communal activities of the group, especially pertaining to drinking parties and banquets held every month.5 The ordinance also supplies bail for a member caught in prison for debt, an interesting protection in place perhaps to protect members from debt slavery.6 It also requires members to vote on issues that are not listed, implying that the upkeep of the organization relied on member participation beyond meetings, banquets, and the payment of dues. Indeed, the meetings are mandatory, and fines of varying amounts were imposed on members who did not attend. These provisions ensured a high degree of interpersonal contact between members. 4 Husselman, Elinor M, William F Edgerton, Arthur E. R Boak, and University of Michigan. Papyri from Tebtunis. University of Michigan Studies. Humanistic Series, V. 28-29. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1933.p 106. (= P. Mich.) 5 Interestingly, P. Mich. V 243, a similar ordinance, also outlines punishments for misdemeanors (and acts of violence) under the influence of alcohol (usually a fine) and also fixes penalties for slander of members. This highlights the particularly interpersonal nature of such guilds through the lens of conflict. 6 Perhaps aside from simply protecting its free and freed members, this provision is also to prevent the complication of slaves, who also may be present in this organization, from being called into debt slavery by a master other than their own. In this way, the ordinance protects the masters who may have been involved in the organization either as masters of members or members themselves.


For this research, the most interesting part of P. Mich. V 244 involves the validation of the ordinance. Here, individual members of the association sign for themselves, including a personal description with respect to the location of scars on various parts of their bodies for identification. Given the contractual character of this document, these self-descriptors are intriguing. Little has been written about this papyrus aside from its original publication in Papyri from Tebtunis, where it is placed next to a very similar guild ordinance, P. Mich. V 243. This document also lists its fifteen members, half of whom are illiterate, and four of whom are identified by their scars.7 Husselman, Boak, and Edgarton suggest that these four are merely included as signatories with legal knowledge, and the physical descriptions serve for recognition purposes should members have questions about the ordinance.8 However, when studied in conjunction with P. Mich. V 244, it appears that more than just the legal signatories merit physical description. In P. Mich. V 244, all members, including the president, are identified by scars. Here, there are far too many scars listed for their corresponding members to merely be “legal references”. Rather, the scars provide a way to efficiently recognize each relevant member and hold them accountable for upholding the rules of their community. While these scars may have signaled slave or former slave status, it appears that this corporal language of violence is used to describe every member, regardless of potential status. The guild detailed in P. Mich. V 244 is a group of twenty-four men, non-veterans of similar ages (mostly early to mid thirties).9 As a whole, P Mich V 243. P Mich V 244. See page 106 of the edited volume. 9 P Mich V 244, Boak, Hussellman, and Edgarton identify that the members of this group have not seen and retired from military service due to their ages. Following Venticinque, the annual cost of membership in an association like that of the απολύσιμοι in Tebtunis would require its members to be operating above the subsistence level, which indicates that this is not an organization of destitute individuals. See Venticinque, Philip F. “Matters of Trust: Associations and Social Capital in Roman Egypt.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 2 (2013). The cost of membership implies that members were not “ poor and destitute non-elites, but individuals with some disposable income, even if living at or slightly above subsistence.” Thus, in this context, questions of self-expression and bodies as sites of violence involve the dimension of members situating themselves among above-poverty peers in society and still self-identifying by means of their scars. 7 8


the group is likely made up of members with both freed and freeborn statuses. Regardless of the actual status makeup of the group, the language used to describe undersigned members holds parallels with contracts involving the sale of slaves, which also qualify individual slaves by the scars on their bodies. For example, in a contract from Tebtunis, Philoumene, the slave for sale, is twice described as “without a scar.”10 This emphasis reveals how noteworthy this trait is, thus indicating the association between slaves and marked bodies. How does this association translate to the context of P. Mich. V 244, a group without direct indicators of status listed? While there is no explicit evidence for the presence of freedmen and slaves, I identified twelve out of the twenty-four signing individuals as potential freedmen or slaves.11 These individuals were listed as “of” another individual of a similar age in the organization. As the filial genitive is used to describe either an individual’s father or his (former) master, the individuals in the nominative were considered potential freedmen. Some members were identified as both potential freedmen and masters, because their names appeared in the nominative and genitive. Indeed, within the text itself, there is reference to at least some of the members being slave owners.12 Status


Potential Freedmen


Potential Masters


Potential Both Freedmen and Masters 2 Uncertain


10 P Tebt. suppl. 1113+1114+P.EES 24/G53-71, P. Tebt. suppl. 1121 = McLeod, Derin. "Contract for the Sale of a Slave." Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik 180 (2012): 25662. Philoumene is also in her thirties, older than female slaves would normally be sold, so perhaps she is without a scar because she has newly become enslaved. 11 See Appendix Table 1 for a breakdown of methodology and identification of these individuals. 12 In the context of members avoiding paying the necessary fees, P. Mich. V 244: “Kronion shall have the right to seize him in the main street, or in his house, and hand over him or his slaves.”


This data should be reviewed with caution, as these may simply be common names rather than references to other members of the organization. However, following the precedent of Mundy’s onomastic study of Greco-Roman Egypt, I will assume the likelihood that repeated names are reflexive unless otherwise distinguished in the text.13 Within the text itself, there is compelling evidence for assuming that individuals listed twice are the same people. For example, in P Mich V 244, a man named Eutuchos is mentioned as a “father” who shares that name with another member and “father” (“Eutuchos son of Eutuchos”).14 This member, (“Eutuchos the carpenter”) is referred to with an additional signifier, his occupation, while the other is not, indicating that the two “Eutuchos” are not the same person. There are also a few instances where individuals are referred to with “also known as” signifiers. Two of these are members who share the same name, Orseus, one of whom is given an additional signifier to prevent confusion.15 Given the frequency of this occurrence, it is probable that repeated names within the document refer to the same man, signaling that this organization is potentially made up of individuals of variable status, all of whom are associated with the marks on their bodies. The locations of the scars that describe the members of the association are relevant here as well. 50% of the scars are located on the faces of the signing individuals, indicating that these might be reflections of violence.16 These scars, including those elsewhere on the body, might also come from occupational accidents. For example, all seven of the injuries on the hands of members are located on fingers alone, implying relatively small scars that are unlikely the result of violent actions to which they were subjected.17 However, the fact that these are listed in the first place demonstrates that finding 13 Mundy, William. "Seeking Aphrodisios and Philoxenos: Personal Names as a Criterion for Identification in Some Early Roman Papyri in the John Rylands Library." Aegyptus 95 (2015): 164-66. 14 See the appendix for a catalogue of individuals in each category. 15 “Orseus the younger, son of Patermouthis also called Kuberomnis.” See the appendices. 16 Kamen, "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS: REPRESENTING SLAVE MARKS IN ANTIQUITY." 99. 17 See Appendix Table 2 for the breakdown of scar locations for all members of the association.


common ground involved steeping individuals previously unexposed to such violence in a landscape of physical appearances distinguished by marks of force. Further, there are no described scars on the backs or abdomens of the members, which are locations that suggest whipping.18 This does not mean however, that the members of this organization did not bear such marks of violence. The physical descriptors in P. Mich. V 244 are almost exclusively scars that are immediately visible to an onlooker, located on the face, forearm, lower leg, or hand. Their visibility emphasizes that the interpersonal and interactive nature of the association. All Members

Potential Freedmen19

Scar Location

Scar Frequency Location


























The individuals identified as potential slaves or freedmen account for more than half of the scars located on faces.20 This is consistent with Kamen’s analysis that the majority of violent marks used to punish or identify slaves were imprinted on the face.21 Kamen conceptualizes slave bodies as “a corpus of inscriptions,” filled with visible scars that tell the story of domination, punishment, and toil.22 Many forms of 18 Kamen, "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS: REPRESENTING SLAVE MARKS IN ANTIQUITY." 97. 19 “Potential Freedmen” here and for the remainder of this paper, includes individuals who fall into Freedmen Category 1, Freedman Category 2, and Masters Category 1. See Appendix Table A for the breakdown of these categories. 20 See Appendix Table 2 for a breakdown of the locations of scars for all members of the association. 21 Kamen, "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS." 97. 22 Kamen, "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS." 97.


violent acts could leave permanent marking, including whipping, branding, and tattooing. While, as discussed, whipping would likely damage the backs or stomachs of the slaves, tattooing and branding occurred “almost always on the enslaved person's face.”23 Facial marking would make the marked immediately and permanently recognizable as enslaved, creating identification issues upon manumission.24 Accounts of freedmen trying to erase this evidence of enslavement detail individuals growing out their bangs, or simply stating that the scars came from elsewhere.25 Perhaps, part of the reason for the eventual move to slave collaring was to prevent the already complex landscape of status in the Roman world from becoming too confused by misinterpreted servile identity amongst affluent freed people. However, in the context of P. Mich. V 244, visible scarring is employed to signal membership, rather than social exclusion on the basis of servile status. As stated, the scars described are visible to the passerby, on a member’s face, or parts of their body not covered by typical clothing. Although the bodies depicted are not littered with scars and welts, or even damaged from fetters on the wrists and ankles, they nevertheless demonstrate physical proof of injury.26 Particular scars may have been signals of a servile past, but such marks might not have contrasted too heavily with the scars littering the bodies of the freeborn laborers. Rural laborers working in a context similar to that of P. Mich. V 244 may have been subject to particular injuries, such as muscle tears, fractures, and repeated-stress injuries (fused vertebrae etc.) like those attested to in the skeletal sample at Vagnari.27 The fractures attested Kamen, "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS." 96-99. Kamen, "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS." 99. See also Gustafson, W. Mark. "Inscripta in Fronte: Penal Tattooing in Late Antiquity." Classical Antiquity 16, no. 1 (1997); Jones, C. P. "Stigma: Tattooing and Branding in Graeco-Roman Antiquity." The Journal of Roman Studies 77 (1987) 139-155. 25 Kamen, "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS.." 104-6. 26 See Appendix Table 2 for a breakdown of locations of scars for all members of the association. Notice the lack of scars listed on the back or abdomen, and scars on the arms and legs are not consistent with fettering. 27 Prowse, Tracy, and Chrystal Nause and Marissa Ledger. “Growing up and Growing old on an imperial estate: Preliminary palaeopathological analysis of skeletal remains from Vagnari” in 23 24


to in the Vagnari sample present a pattern of injury that is not indicative of personal violence, and appears to demonstrate the risks of daily routine.28 Similarly, scars such as the bodily ones described in P Mich V 244 might have been caused by labor-related accidents. The απολύσιμοι are tenants on an imperial estate, and likely share in the labor of maintaining the property. One can imagine, considering the sharp tools employed in agricultural labor, that marks on the arms, legs, feet, and hands might indicate a clumsy incident with a sickle, or accidents while organizing the storage of metal tools.29 Meanwhile, injury to the facial area generally signifies interpersonal violence, and the facial scars exhibited likely fit this model, as the majority of such scars appear on members identified as potential freedmen.30 However, not every facial scar is accounted for by an individual identified as a potential slave or freed person, so it seems that here, violence marring the face might not necessarily imply slavery to the onlooker. Thus, it appears that the imperial estate in Tebtunis is a context rife with potential for bodily harm, whether by accidental injury or violent punishment. The members of the association, as previously shown, are likely a diverse group of individuals negotiating the complex dynamics of status differences among peers. These complications unfold further when one considers the intricate networks of possible interactions between (former) masters and their slaves or freedpeople in group meetings and events. There is evidence that several members had interpersonal connections outside of the organization itself, in addition to in addition to sharing tenancy on the estate. Two of the twelve potential freedmen were simultaneously identified as potential masters

Beyond Vagnari, New themes in the study of Roman South Italy. 2012. 118-9. Although Vagnari and the estate at Tebtunis are geographically disparate, they share a context of agricultural labor, and so are comparable in this instance. 28 Prowse, Tracy, and Chrystal Nause and Marissa Ledger. “Growing up and Growing old,” 119. 29 Columella de Re Rustica 1.7-8. 30 Prowse, Tracy, and Chrystal Nause and Marissa Ledger. “Growing up and Growing old,” 119.


of other members of the group. Further, multiple members of the group share (former) masters.31 Status Among Freedmen/Slaves

Potential Frequency

Potential Freedman/Slave Only


Potential Freedman and Master


A quarter of the members (6) shared membership with their potential (former) masters. Further, more than one third of the association’s members shared potential (former) masters with one another. Four individuals shared two potential masters who were also a part of the organization.32 It is clear then, that this organization of απολύσιμοι is not the only social connection between these individuals, and that the power dynamics of the broader Tebtunis society are likely pervasive within the interactions of this association. This makes the απολύσιμοι’s choice of self-expression, something physical and indicative of their face to face understanding of one another, all the more striking. Networks of Potential Freedmen/Slaves Frequency Potential Slave/Freedmen with Potential Masters in Guild 6 Guild Members Who May Have Shared Masters/Former Masters 9 Both


With some members of the association possibly being the freedmen of others and some sharing (former) masters, the potential for complex 31 32

These are referred to as “Masters Category 1” in Appendix Table 1. See Appendix Table 1.


interpersonal relationships is clear in P. Mich. V 244. Liu examines the micro-realities of Roman occupational guilds and associations, focusing on the potential that these groups had for developing trust networks and advancing the social capital for its members, while also retaining exclusionary power.33 Indeed, trust networks may already have been present for those members of the association who either shared a (former) master with another member, or even between (former) masters and freedmen who were peers in this context. Even with their inherent complexities then, associations like this one may have been avenues for former slaves to create social relationships and peership with freeborn and other freed people in their community. Master Name

His Potential Slaves/Freedmen Scar Location Name

Peteusouchos arm



Scar Location

















In P. Mich. V 244, freedpeople and slaves are described by physical markers of violence enacted on them by individuals who are also identified in the same way.34 Scars are what each individual has in 33 Liu, Jinyu. "Group Membership, Trust Networks, and Social Capital: A Critical Analysis". In Work, Labour and Professions in the Roman World, (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2017). 34 Further, according to the naming patterns of the association members, every member ought to be a slave by Roman tria nomina standards. However, other papyri describing guild ordinances from Tebtunis do the same thing, identifying each individual by their name and filiation only. Likewise, the slave purchasing contracts do the same from the region, and the individuals purchasing the slave are mentioned only with the filiation in addition to their personal name. In fact, Roman citizens were a fairly small elite group in Roman Egypt in the first century, making tria nomina rare in papyri. See Mundy, William. "Seeking Aphrodisios and Philoxenos: Personal Names as a Criterion for Identification in Some Early Roman Papyri in the John Rylands Library." Aegyptus 95 (2015): 164-6.


common with the group, and scars are how members are represented on official group documentation. When one considers that their masters are likely responsible for scarring on slaves, this method of pseudo-self identification becomes even more complex. Selfexpression in the language of bodily scars is indicative of the tension between the concurrent exclusionary power and inclusivity of associations identified as by Liu.35 Scars bring members occupying diverse strata of the broader social hierarchy in Tebtunis to a level of peership, signaling belonging, while simultaneously marking out certain members for their (past) servile status in the broader community. For example, Psenkebkis and Amaeis, potential freedpeople of Marres, have scars near their left eyebrows.36 One might imagine these highly visible marks as trademark violence of Marres the master. Sharing a scar as well as potentially an enslaved experience might have served as a connection point for these two members. In this ordinance, what actually distinguishes these two individuals from each other, with the same physical descriptor and potential (former) master, is their respective names. This particular instance, then, demonstrates further that scars are an equalizer in the organization, allowing for individual, non-physical qualities that do not necessarily betray a servile past to take precedence. Ascough asserts that banquets and association meetings likely reinforced the pre-existing hierarchies of social and economic status between members of the association.37 Even from a purely administrative perspective, this likely played out in practice for the members of P. Mich. V 244, as there is no evidence that either of the two leaders of the association, Kronion son of Herodes and Eutuchos son of Eutuchos, were potentially of freed status.38 The president of Liu, "Group Membership, Trust Networks, and Social Capital: A Critical Analysis." 203. See appendix, these individuals are in “Freedmen Category 1.” I suspect that these scars reflect branding of some sort because they are two individuals under the same potential master and have matching scars. 37 Ascough, Richard S. "Forms of Commensality in Greco-Roman Associations." The Classical World 102, no. 1 (2008): 33-45. 38 These individuals fall into the “uncertain” category, as it appears that they were neither freedpeople of any association members nor masters of association members. Eutuchos was 35 36


the association would have had a particularly domineering role, as he was in charge of the organization’s finances and enforcing its regulations.39 In fact, P Mich V 244 indicates the president’s power of execution.40 For instance, he has the power to seize a member who does not pay his dues and hand him or his slaves over to public authorities.41 If Kronion was in fact freeborn, these particularly masterlike powers of life and death described in violent language create a tense set of social dynamics within an association potentially containing both freedpeople and their former masters. Indeed, the language of physically seizing a member without respect for the sanctity of one’s home parallels the violent language used on slave collars.42 Considering also the president’s ability to demand the presence of the association’s members under threat of financial punishment, this society may have been a landscape of dominance indeed, within webs of relationships and complex hierarchies.43 Aside from being equalized by their scars, members of this association, as απολύσιμοι on the estate, would likely have shared in the agricultural labor that is required to maintain the property. Following Columella’s assertion that slave managers should also work alongside their overseen slaves, similar experiences in the field would have drawn

deliberately differentiated from Eutuchos the Carpenter, “father” of another association member, so it seems that their choice of identification has some indication of status. 39 Boak, A. E. R. "The Organization of Gilds in Greco-Roman Egypt." Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 68 (1937): 214. 40 Other, similar associations also ascribe this right of “execution” to its president. 41 “...if anyone is in default and fails in any respect to pay the dues of the laographia or the expenses, Kronion shall have the right to seize him in the main street, or in his house, and hand over him or his slaves.” Boak 1937 assumes that Kronion is talking about handing the perpetrator (or his slaves) over to public authorities (215). 42 See J. Trimble. 2016. “The Zoninus Collar and the archaeology of Roman Slavery” AJA 120 (3) for examples of slave collaring language: “seize me.” 43 “If the president issues a call in the village and anyone does not attend, let him be fined two drachmas in silver for the association, except … , when one drachma; if outside, four drachmas; and if in the metropolis, eight drachmas.” See also Joshel, 181 for a parallel: “The movements of slaves demonstrated their owners’ power and prestige even more than objects: as instrumentum vocale, animate “tools” with a voice and a will, slaves enacted in the material world the order sought by slaveholders’ desires and plans.”


further common ground among members, while also contributing to the confusion of social hierarchies in place.44 Lis and Soly study the respective self-representation tendencies for freedmen and free born in associations, and present trends that look toward a common group identity that transcends freeborn/freed status differences.45 Indeed, the physical dynamic of the scars for the απολύσιμοι unites the group and helps to establish a common identity. These notions of pre-existing hierarchies and internal exclusion highlight the tension in the experience of association members, differing in status, sharing space and social identity, all while finding common ground in marks of bodily harm. Associations in Roman Egypt served to involve individuals and create unified trust networks within their broader community.46 In this way, the microcosm of the απολύσιμοι guild, through its composition of freed and freeborn status members and its employment of physical descriptions for identification, is reflective of the broader Tebtunis society, a community that demonstrated nuanced power dynamics and social hierarchies, and, at the face to face level, ambiguity as to the status of individuals. While scholarship surrounding slave marking through tattooing or scarring highlights a shameful, permanent reminder of past servitude, in the case of the Tebtunis papyrus, these marks can also become a unifying factor. The social relationships and institutional hierarchies at play in this association of απολύσιμοι are far from simple. In such a nuanced context, this particular form of self-representation brings the potential masters in the association down to the level of their (former) slaves, and forces those in power to identify themselves in the language of the dominated. Indeed, for the απολύσιμοι, visible scars Columella de Re Rustica 1.8. Lis, Catharina, and Hugo Soly. "Work, Identity and Self-Representation in the Roman Empire and the West-European Middle Ages: Different Interplays between the Social and the Cultural". In Work, Labour and Professions in the Roman World, (Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2017). 46 Muhs, Brian. "Membership in Private Associations in Ptolemaic Tebtunis." Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 44, no. 1 (2001): 8. Including freedmen, non-elites. They also serve as facilitators for conducting imperial administrative practices, such as collection of the laographia. See Boak, A. E. R. "The Organization of Gilds in Greco-Roman Egypt." 214. 44 45


establish a community of peers, and symbolize inclusion rather than stigmatization. This is not to say that reminders of violence are not and were not traumatic to the individuals bearing them. However, considering P. Mich. V 244, it appears that there is more nuance to the notion that freedmen were permanently ashamed by obvious physical markers of past violence post-manumission. Perhaps, like Athenaeusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Thracian woman electing to drown her shameful stigmata with further tattoos, the appearances of freedmen could blend into a landscape littered with evidence of past violence, servile or not.47


Athenaeus 524 d-e.


Bibliography PRIMARY SOURCES Athenaeus 524 d-e Columella, de Re Rustica P Mich V 244 P Mich V 243 P Tebt. suppl. 1113+1114+P.EES 24/G53-71, P. Tebt. suppl. 1121 = McLeod, Derin. "Contract for the Sale of a Slave." Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik 180 (2012): 256-62. SECONDARY SOURCES Ascough, Richard S. "Forms of Commensality in Greco-Roman Associations." The Classical World 102, no. 1 (2008): 33-45. Associations in the Greco‐Roman World: A Sourcebook. Edited by Richard S. Ascough, Philip A. Harland, and John S. Kloppenborg. Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012. Boak, A. E. R. "The Organization of Gilds in Greco-Roman Egypt." Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association 68 (1937): 212-20. Gustafson, W. Mark. "Inscripta in Fronte: Penal Tattooing in Late Antiquity." Classical Antiquity 16, no. 1 (1997): 79-105. Jones, C. P. "Stigma: Tattooing and Branding in Graeco-Roman Antiquity." The Journal of Roman Studies 77 (1987): 139-55. Joshel, Sandra R., and Lauren Hackworth Petersen. “Slaves in the Villa.”. In The Material Life of Roman Slaves, 162– 213. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2014. Husselman, Elinor M, William F Edgerton, Arthur E. R Boak, and University of Michigan. Papyri from Tebtunis. University of Michigan Studies. Humanistic Series, V. 28-29. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1933. = P. Mich. Kamen, Deborah. "A CORPUS OF INSCRIPTIONS:


REPRESENTING SLAVE MARKS IN ANTIQUITY." Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome 55 (2010): 97. Lenski, Noel, “Violence and the Roman Slave,” in The Topography of Violence in the Greco-Roman World. Edited by Riess, Werner, and Garrett G. Fagan. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2016. Liu, Jinyu. "Group Membership, Trust Networks, and Social Capital: A Critical Analysis". In Work, Labour and Professions in the Roman World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2017. Lis, Catharina, and Hugo Soly. "Work, Identity and SelfRepresentation in the Roman Empire and the West-European Middle Ages: Different Interplays between the Social and the Cultural". In Work, Labour and Professions in the Roman World. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2017. Muhs, Brian. "Membership in Private Associations in Ptolemaic Tebtunis." Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 44, no. 1 (2001): 1-21. Mundy, William. "Seeking Aphrodisios and Philoxenos: Personal Names as a Criterion for Identification in Some Early Roman Papyri in the John Rylands Library." Aegyptus 95 (2015): 157-69. Prowse, Tracy, and Chrystal nause and Marissa Ledger. “Growing up and Growing old on an imperial estate: Preliminary palaeopathological analysis of skeletal remains from Vagnari” in Beyond Vagnari, New themes in the study of Roman South Italy. 2012. Trimble, J. “The Zoninus Collar and the archaeology of Roman Slavery” AJA 120 (3) (2016). 447-472. Venticinque, Philip F. “Matters of Trust: Associations and Social Capital in Roman Egypt.” CHS Research Bulletin 1, no. 2 (2013).


Appendices P Mich V 244 (trans. Boak, Husselman, Edgarton, 1933) The third year of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator, on the third supplementary day of the month Kaisateiros, at Tebtunis in the division of Polemon of the Asinoite nome. Having met together the undersigned men of Tebtunis, απολύσιμοι of an estate of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator, voted unanimously to elect one of their number, an excellent man, Kronion, son of Herodes, to be superintendent for one year from the month of Sebastos of the coming fourth year of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator, the same Kronion to collect the public revenues of the laographia of the said apolusimoi and all the expenses of said association. If the president issues a call in the village and anyone does not attend, let him be fined two drachmas in silver for the association, except … , when one drachma; if outside, four drachmas; and if in the metropolis, eight drachmas. If any one of the undersigned men is held for debt up to the amount of one hundred drachmas in silver, secruity will be given for him for a period of sixty days by the association, but if anyone is in default and fails in any respect to pay the dues of the laographia or the expenses, Kronion shall have the right to seize him in the main street, or in his house, and hand over him or his slaves. It is required that the undersigned men shall pay out of the common und to the said estate on behalf of the aforesaid Kronion the laographia of the said coming fourth year of Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus Imperator; and that they shall hold a banquet each month on the day of the god Augustus, the said Kronion furnishing drink for the toasts, and all shall obey the said president. And if a president or a father or mother or wife or child or brother or sister dies and any one of the undersigned men does not attend the funeral, let such a one be fined four drachmas for the association, and the one who is bereaved shall be feasted by the association for one day; but if anyone is in default and likewise fails in any way to satisfy any of the contributions and expensise, the said president has the right to seize him and hand him over as aforesaid. Kronion, son of Herodes, president, about thirty-five years old, with a scar on his left shin. Onnophris, son of Nepheros, about forty years old, with a scar on his left eyebrow. Psenkebkis, son of Marres, about thiry-eight years old, with a scar on his forehead to the left above the eyebrow.


Panesneus, son of Harmiusis, about thiry years old, with a scar on his right eyebrow. Sigeris, son of Pakebkis, about twenty-nine years old, with a scar on his forehead to the left by the temple. Pakebkis, son of Sigeris, about thirty-five years old, with a scar on his left thumb. Sekonopis, son Papontos also called Diodorus, about thirty-two years old, with a scar in the middle of his forehead, Anchious, son of Anchious â&#x20AC;Ś., about thirty years old, with a scar on his right shin. Orseus the younger, son of Patermouthis also called Kuberomnis, about thirty-three years old, with a scar on his left thumb. Papnebtunis, son of Papnebtunis, about thirty-two years old, with a scar above his right cheek. Kronion, son of Labesis, about thirty years old, with a scar on his nose below the eyebrows. Eutuchos, son of Eutuchos, son ofâ&#x20AC;Ś., about thirty years old, with a scar on his right thumb. Orseus, son of Petesouchos, about fifty yeas old with a scar on his right forearm. Peteusouchos, son of Protos also called Hermais, about thirty-five years old, with a scar on his right forearm. Simeis, son of Eutuchos, the carpenter, about thrity-eight years old, with a scar in the middle of his forehead. Labesis, son of Labesis, about thirty-five years old, with scars on his forehead. Harmaeis, son of Harmaeis, about thirty-three years old, with a scar on his left thumb.


Komon, son of Anchious, about thirty-seven years old, with a scar on his forehead to the right. Orseus, son of Papnebtunis, about thirty years old, with a scar on the little finger of his left hand. Amaeis, son of Marres, about thirty-five years old, with a scar on the first finger of his right hand. Hermas, son of Anchious, about thirty-three years old, with a scar on his left knee. Orseus, son of Haroutes, son of Names, about thirty-four years old, with a scar on the first finger of his left hand. Papontos, son of Papnebtunis, about thirty-two years old, with a scar on his left foot. I Kronion, son of Herodes, president, have voted, as has been set forth. I Eutuchos, son of Eutuchos, also called â&#x20AC;Ś , have voted. (end)

Table 1: Potential Freedmen, Masters Breakdown of Potential Status Freedman Category 1 (Least certain) Name



Scar Location

Scar General Location




right eyebrow





first finger of right hand




38 above left eyebrow






left eyebrow

Freedmen: Category 2 (Probable)





Scar Location

Scar General Location




forehead to the right





left knee

leg face




nose below eyebrows




left foot





little finger of left hand





right forearm


Masters: Category 1 Name



Scar Location

Scar General Location




right cheek







Masters: Category 2 Name



Scar Location

Scar General Location


Protos (also called Hermais)


right forearm



Anchious... (also called)...


right shin


Table 1 Key: Freedmen Category 1: These individuals share a "father" with another member, but are of ages that suggest the possibility that they are actually brothers. These individuals mostly have scars on their faces, which has been shown to be the primary site of bodily harm for slaves, so they have been included among the potential freedmen.


Freedmen Category 2: These individuals have a "father" within the association whose name matches that of another member of the association. Age rules out the possibility that these are actual father and son. Masters Category 1: These individuals share the names of their "fathers," and their "fathers" are also the "fathers" of other members of the association. It is unclear as to whether or not these individuals are masters, (or sons of the masters) of the others in the organization, or whether they too are freedmen of this "father." These individuals also have scars on their faces, which has been shown to be the primary site of bodily harm for slaves. Masters Category 2: These individuals share the names of the "fathers" of other members of the association with no further identifiers that would disrupt the possibility that the "father" and this individual are the same.

Table 2: Scar Location Breakdown Scar Location Breakdown for All Members General Scar Location
















Left foot










Hand Leg


Backmatter Classics Outside McGill After the success of Hirundo XVII’s inclusion of international submissions in lieu of traditional backmatter, Hirundo XVIII is continuing this new tradition with great excitement. This section aims to showcase the international network of the McGill Department of Classics by recognizing excellent work submitted by the broader McGill Classics community. This year, we are lucky to bring you submissions from l’Université de Montréal, University of Toronto, and Yale University.


Junon colérique Quelle action dans l’Énéide? Romane F. Auger Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada Le proème de l’Énéide présente la tenace colère d’une cruelle Junon comme la source des malheurs d’Énée (« saeuae memorem Iunonis ob iram » Aen.I.4). Ainsi la déesse apparaît-elle comme le double virgilien du Poséidon de l’Odyssée, c’est-à-dire comme une dramatis persona dont l’action est à l’origine des autres actions du récit.1 Cependant, malgré les ressemblances frappantes entre le premier chant de l’Énéide et l’Odyssée, le modèle de Poséidon ne suffit pas à saisir toute la nuance de la colère de Junon.2 Cette dernière se caractérise, chez Virgile plus encore que chez Homère par une frustration certaine : Junon, si puissante et si outragée, ne peut assouvir par elle-même sa vengeance. Comment comprendre alors ce paradoxe d’une figure si active dans le récit et pourtant incapable d’agir véritablement ? Qu’est-ce qui fait de Junon une déesse effectivement puissante si ce n’est pas sa colère ? Pour répondre à ces interrogations, il faut d’abord étudier comment Virgile exploite la tradition et la critique homérique pour faire de Junon une figure de la colère divine ainsi que de la frustration. Dans un second temps, l’examen du monologue de la déesse permettra de comprendre, avec le modèle de l’Héra de l’Iliade en tête, comment Junon, tout aussi manipulative que colérique, se révèle être une figure d’auctoritas et d’une puissance en paroles plus qu’en actes.

1 Francesco Della Corte, “L’action de Junon dans l’Énéide,” in Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé 1, n°1 (1980), 56. 2 Robert D. Williams, “Virgil and the Odyssey,” in Phoenix 17, n°4 (1963), 266-74.


I. Junon, entre colère et frustration. Pour F. Della Corte, « si l’Iliade est le poème de la colère d’Achille, l’Énéide est celui de la colère de Junon ».3 L’assimilation de Junon à la colère est d’autant plus aisée que depuis l’époque hellénistique la prononciation du nom grec Ἥρα devient similaire au latin ira du fait d’un phénomène phonétique bien connu, l’iotacisme. La colère de la reine des dieux est présente dès le proème (« saevae memorem Iunonis ob iram » Aen. I.4) et en colore le passage (« tantaene animis caelestibus irae » Aen. I.11 ; « causae irarum saevique dolores » Aen. I.25). De plus, parmi toutes les mentions du mot ira dans le poème, celles d’entre elles qui concernent les divinités sont liées à Junon, ce qui en fait une figure dominante de la colère parmi les dieux.4 Enfin, les premiers mots de Junon forment un jeu de mot bilingue pour lui attribuer la colère d’Achille du premier vers de l’Iliade. Dans un jeu de paronomase renforcé par l’élision du mot, « mene incepto » au vers 37 fait entendre « μῆνιν ».5 La colère de Junon peut être qualifiée de « memorem » justement parce qu’elle poursuit celle d’Héra dans l’Iliade. Rappeler – et Virgile délègue cette tâche à la déesse (« memor Saturnia » Aen. I.23) – le jugement de Pâris et l’enlèvement de Ganymède (« iudicium Paridis » ; « rapti Ganymedis honores » Aen. I.26-27) offre de la profondeur à la fois à la colère et au personnage qui ne se comprend pas seulement à la lumière de l’opposition politique entre Rome et Carthage du fait de son statut de gardienne tutélaire de la ville punique. Paradoxalement, les affronts de Junon, ses douleurs et ses rejets, sont de ceux que l’on ne devrait pas dire.6 Dans ce portrait très humanisant de la déesse se joue en réalité un dialogue avec Homère et sa tradition

Della Corte, 53. Jeanne Dion, Les passions dans l’œuvre de Virgile: poétique et philosophie (Nancy : Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1993), 69. 5 James J. O’Hara, True names: Vergil and the Alexandrian tradition of etymological wordplay (Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, 1996), 115. 6 Sarah Spence, Rhetorics of reason and desire: Vergil, Augustine, and the troubadours, (Ithaca, N.Y : Cornell University Press, 1988), 24. 3 4


critique qui reproche justement à l’aède de prêter aux dieux des passions humaines et même de les laisser en venir aux mains les uns avec les autres.7 En concentrant ces passions en Junon, Virgile épargne aux autres dieux cette critique et justifie cette concession par le fait que l’origine de Rome « ne saurait dépendre de caprices seulement humains ».8 Assumée comme telle, cette colère homérique peut éclater dans le premier discours du texte, le monologue de Junon elle-même qui contribue à la caractériser en tant que personnage.9 En effet, le choix d’un monologue n’est pas dénué de sens puisqu’il rentre dans la catégorie aristotélicienne de la mimesis. C’est-à-dire qu’en déléguant la parole à son personnage, le narrateur permet une meilleure représentation de ce dernier pour le lecteur et crée ainsi « sans doute très efficacement une ethopoiia fortement dramatique ».10 On retrouve ce procédé chez Homère, ce qu’Aristote ne manque pas d’apprécier, et en particulier dans le cas de Poséidon au chant 5 de l’Odyssée qui ne manque pas d’inspirer le monologue de Junon.11 Face au départ d’Ulysse de l’île de Calypso, Poséidon redouble de colère (« ἐχώσατο κηρόθι μᾶλλον » Od. V.284) et adresse des paroles à son cœur (« μυθήσατο θυμόν » Od. V.285). Junon quant à elle, couve encore sa colère dans sa poitrine (« aeternum servans sub pectore volnus » Aen. I.36). Les deux monologues commencent sur un fort ton dramatique, qu’il s’agisse de l’exclamation de Poséidon (« Ὢ πόποι » Od. V.286) ou des infinitifs employés par Junon (« desistere » et « posse » Aen. I.37-38) redoublés par une double interrogative négative (« mene » et « nec » Aen. I.37-38). Le fond du discours se colore également de pathos avec la mention des destins., « αἶσα » (Od. V.288) et « fatis » (Aen. I.39) sont vus comme des obstacles aux volontés des dieux présents. Mais c’est finalement Junon qui l’emporte dans cette frustration en concluant son discours par la remise en

Platon, République, II, 377e-378e. Dion, Les passions dans l’œuvre de Virgile, 70. 9 Della Corte, “L’action de Junon dans l’Énéide,” 53. 10 Della Corte, “L’action de Junon dans l’Énéide,” 54. 11 Aristote, Poétique, 24, 1460a, 9. 7 8


cause de son propre numen (« et quisquam numen Iunonis adoret ? » Aen. I.48), mot qui sous-entend sa volonté, sa divinité et sa puissance tout à la fois. Difficile de ne pas y voir non plus un commentaire de Virgile lui-même qui, en juxtaposant « numen » et « Iunonis », souligne le paradoxe de la situation par un rapprochement étymologique possible des deux mots. Ce double portrait, assumé à la fois par le poète et son personnage, présente donc une colère profonde de Junon qui tire son origine de la source littéraire et historique du récit de Virgile, l’Iliade. Et pourtant, il ne ressort de cette antique colère qu’une sourde frustration et le poète lui-même en pose le paradoxe : la colère de Junon est puissante, mais elle-même ne semble pas pouvoir en tirer son action. II. Le paradoxe de la puissance de Junon. Dans son développement, le discours de Junon révèle bien cette caractéristique proprement virgilienne de sa colère : elle ne peut pas y satisfaire par sa propre action. Dans l’Odyssée, Protée rapporte à Ménélas comment Ajax est noyé par Poséidon après ses paroles d’ὕβρις qui refusent de reconnaître l’aide du dieu qui venait de le sauver de la colère d’Athéna (Od. IV.499-511). Virgile reprend l’épisode et le place dans la bouche de Junon à son tour pour mettre en évidence sa frustration : il s’agit justement d’un exemple de vengeance assouvie. Si le dieu vengeur, Poséidon, s’efface au profit de Pallas qui devient l’unique bourreau d’Ajax, c’est pour jouer sur la rivalité entre les deux déesses car la fille de Jupiter s’en prend à la flotte des Argiens, peuple chéri par Junon (juste après le récit de la mort d’Ajax, Protée rappelle qu’Agamemnon, roi d’Argos, était sous la protection d’Héra : « σάωσε δὲ πότνια Ἥρη » Od. V.513). Remplacer le frère du roi des dieux par sa fille permet aussi de renforcer la colère de la reine et sœur de Jupiter qui ne peut pas agir directement contre Énée malgré son statut (« ast ego, quae divum incedo regina Iovisque et soror et conjunx. » Aen. I.46-47). La différence dans l’action des trois dieux est notable. En effet, tandis que Pallas agit (elle brûle, « exurere », elle noie, « summergere », elle lance en personne le feu de Jupiter, « ipsa iaculata ignem » Aen. I.39-40 et 42), Junon


s’interroge justement sur sa propre puissance mais est incapable de provoquer elle-même la tempête (« et quisquam numen Iunonis adoret ? » Aen. I.48). Poséidon quant à lui est doté d’une parole presque performative, son action suit et correspond à ses mots : il annonce son geste (« Ἀλλ᾽ ἔτι μέν μίν φημι ἅδην ἐλάαν κακότητος. » Od. V.290) puis l’accomplit aussitôt (« ὥς εἰπὼν σύναγεν νεφέλας » Od. V.291) et l’emploi du participe accentue cette simultanéité. Neptune suit le même modèle, bien que son rôle soit inversé, et calme la tempête plus rapidement encore qu’il ne le dit (« Sic ait, et dicto citius tumida aequora placat » Aen. I.142). À défaut d’un trident pour déchaîner les eaux, c’est d’une parole persuasive dont Junon est dotée et qu’elle utilise pour réaliser ses desseins grâce à des intermédiaires. Ainsi fait-elle sa requête auprès d’Éole comme Héra auprès d’Hypnos lorsqu’elle souhaite plonger Zeus dans le sommeil pour se venger des Troyens. Le discours d’Héra commence par une captatio benevolentiae qui évoque la puissance du Sommeil, maître de tous les dieux et de tous les hommes (« ἄναξ πάντων τε θεῶν πάντων τ᾽ ἀνθρώπων » Il. XIV.234) que les scholiastes nuancent en rappelant qu’ailleurs, si le Sommeil tient bien les dieux et les hommes il n’a pas d’emprise sur Zeus (« Δία δ᾽ οὐκ ἔχε » Il. II.2). Aussi Virgile ajuste-t-il les paroles de Junon et applique la même formule à Jupiter (« divum pater atque hominum rex » Aen. I.65) à l’ouverture de son discours pour rappeler la puissance accordée par le roi des dieux au roi des vents. Vient ensuite la requête à proprement parler dans les deux discours et surtout la promesse d’une récompense. Or, la récompense promise par Junon à Éole reprend celle qu’Héra fait dans un second temps à Hypnos réticent. En tant que déesse présidant aux unions matrimoniales (et J. J. O’Hara ne manque de rapporter les liens qui ont été fait entre le nom de la déesse et le vocabulaire de l’union – jungam, jungo, conjunx), elle promet le mariage de l’une de ses Nymphes ou Grâces chez Homère.12 Mais Junon comme Héra s’en tient dans son action à une promesse, c’est-à-dire une parole. C’est la manipulation par le 12

O’Hara, True names, 116.


discours qui devient le propre de la déesse dans ce passage et qui nous semble être l’une de ses caractéristiques. L’Héra de l’Iliade joue à ce point de la puissance de sa parole qu’elle est la seule à jurer par le Styx, qu’elle décrit elle-même comme le plus grand et le plus terrible serment pour les dieux bienheureux. Virgile ne fait pas jurer Junon, il fait de ses paroles des ordres suffisamment puissants pour qu’ils soient reconnus d’Éole (« mihi iussa capessere fas est » Aen. I.77) tout comme ils le seront d’Alecto au livre 7 et de Juturne au livre 12. C’est pourquoi la triple épithète virgilienne que la déesse rappelle et brandit dans sa colère (« Ast ego, quae diuom incedo regina, Iouisque / et soror et coniunx » Aen. I.46-47) n’est pas une coquetterie : c’est la justification, par l’énumération de ses titres, de son auctoritas, auquel elle fait elle-même appelle face à Juturne (« auctor ego » Aen. XII. 159). En définitive, les portraits que Virgile donne de sa Junon colérique dans le premier chant de l’Énéide problématisent à la fois son utilisation de la source homérique et de sa tradition critique et l’aspect proprement nouveau qu’il confère à son personnage. En effet, la figure de Junon s’inscrit dans un dialogue avec Homère qui associe le modèle de Poséidon dans l’Odyssée mais aussi celui d’Héra dans l’Iliade pour jouer sur l’ambivalence d’une colère qui n’a eu cesse de couver et d’enfler en la déesse sans jamais parvenir à s’assouvir. Ainsi en proie à ses passions, Junon met en question sa propre capacité d’action au moment même où elle est l’élément déclencheur de la première péripétie du chant, la tempête. Le portrait est paradoxalement celui d’un patient plutôt qu’un agent. C’est en comprenant autrement la puissance de Junon que la résolution apparaît. Ce sont dans les mots eux-mêmes de la déesse, non de sa colère, qu’il faut voir la source de sa puissance. Ainsi Junon se définit-elle comme une figure d’auctoritas, une figure du discours, et c’est bien lui qui est le lieu de son action.


Bibliographie ÉDITIONS DE RÉFÉRENCE DES PASSAGES CITÉS Homère. Iliade (chants I-IV). Sous la direction de Paul Mazon. Vol. I. 4 vol. Collection des universités de France - Budé. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1955. Homère. Iliade (chants XIII-XVIII). Sous la direction de Paul Mazon. Vol. III. 4 vol. Collection des universités de France - Budé. Paris : Les Belles Lettres, 1956. Homère. L’Odyssée « poésie homérique » (chants I-VII). Sous la direction de Victor Bérard. 5e éd. Vol. I. 3 vol. Collection des universités de France - Budé. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1955. Virgile. Œuvres complètes. Sous la direction de Jeanne Dion, Philippe Heuzé, et Alain Michel. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade 603. Paris: Gallimard, 2015. AUTRES SOURCES Aristote. Poétique. Sous la direction de J. Hardy. 2e éd. Collection des universités de France. Paris : Les Belles Lettres, 2008. Platon. Œuvres complètes, Tome VI : La République, Livres I-III. Sous la direction d’Emile Chambry. Vol. VI. Collection des universités de France - Budé. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1959. ARTICLES ET MONOGRAPHIES Della Corte, Francesco. « L’action de Junon dans l’Énéide ». Bulletin de l’Association Guillaume Budé 1, 1 (1980): 49-58. Dion, Jeanne. Les passions dans l’œuvre de Virgile: poétique et philosophie. Travaux et mémoires. Études anciennes. Nancy: Presses universitaires de Nancy, 1993. O’Hara, James J. True names: Vergil and the Alexandrian tradition of etymological wordplay. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996. Spence, Sarah. Rhetorics of reason and desire: Vergil, Augustine, and


the troubadours. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988. Williams, R. D. « Virgil and the Odyssey ». Phoenix 17, 4 (1963): 266-74.


Eroticism, Genderbending, and Agency Sexy, Chaste Lucretia in Ovid’s Fastii Irum Chorghay University of Toronto, Canada From the lips of a mythical past, Lucretia’s name trickles down to us in modernity as perhaps the best-known paradigm of ancient Roman female chastity. Her conduct and suicide moved Roman men to overthrow the tyranny of Sextus Tarquin and establish the Roman Republic, the very paradigm of citizen autonomy. Scholars generally agree that Lucretia, despite being such an exemplar, posits behaviour that strikes us as surprising given the qualifications for chaste womanhood. In the second book of Ovid’s Fastii, her execution of chastity—that is, her independent decision to take her own life with a hidden dagger after recounting to her father and husband that she was raped by the tyrant, Tarquin, the night before—features her own eroticism, displaces gender in herself and those around her, and enables her to reclaim her narrative. Lucretia’s chastity fights the violation that Tarquin’s rape imposes not just on her body, but on the prospect of male, citizen autonomy under a tyrant, whose power over women robs Roman men of the sanctity of their own lineage, and by extension, their authority. I argue that Lucretia achieves an immortalized glory for herself through her performance of model female chastity that reinforces female subjugation to secure male


autonomy, but that this chastity is a sexualized and genderbending agency that she employs to compel Roman men to reclaim their own masculinity. To accomplish this, I will be examining lines 739 through 852 of Book 2 in Ovid’s Fastii. First, I will consider the sexuality that is pervasive throughout Ovid’s depictions of Lucretia’s chastity at her first introduction, during Tarquin’s assault, and at her death respectively. Next, I will trace gendered behaviour between Lucretia and other characters throughout this section, focusing on how Lucretia’s chastity affects Tarquin’s fantasy of her, her own suicide, and Brutus’ proclamation over her dead body. Finally, I will advocate that Lucretia derives agency through her chastity, which demands that she both remain silent at her assault and bold at her death. Her suicide repurposes her rape as a catalyst towards victory for Roman male autonomy while Lucretia’s life and death expose a paradoxical character to model female chastity and cause a skepticism towards the stability of Rome’s patriarchal structure. At Lucretia’s introduction, she emerges as the virtuous matron. While the ruling Tarquin’s own daughter-in-law is caught drinking— unacceptable for Roman women at her time—Lucretia is in her room, weaving with other ladies for the men at war. But the content of her speech features the image of a soldier (pugnantis imago), who rushes in with a sword in hand (stricto qualibet ense ruit) and makes her swoon (mens abit et morior Ovid, Fastii, 2.751-3.). This seems to foreshadow Tarquin’s rape, during which he comes to her bed wielding his weapon at the site of the rash decision that would cause his downfall.1 She does not name the man as her husband, calling him neither coniunx nor vir, and that she mentions him at all reveals that though she is chaste, she experiences sexual desire.2 Does this mean that chastity is not devoid of sex? Chastity is often marked by abstinence or marital exclusivity, but as Oliver suggests concerning Diana’s exchange with her virgin nymph, such a notion is under Ovid, Fastii, 2.793-95. Richard Jackson King, Desiring Rome: Male Subjectivity and Reading Ovid’s Fasti. (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2006), 212. 1 2


pressure elsewhere in Ovid, too.3 In fact, King argues that the urgency with which she seeks to complete the cloak for her husband reveals her own self-conscious anxiety about her chastity.4 While King ascribes this tension to a crack in her controlled demeanor, under pressure due to her separation from her husband, he notes that this, too, is attractive to the men secretly listening to her.5 King proposes that Ovid depicts a separation between the overt attitudes of his characters from their inner intentions to reveal that the social fabric that demands gendered libidinal processes to construe power is fragile and unstable.6 But Lucretia’s departure from herself, as King renders it, demarcates two key aspects of her chastity: first, that sexuality in chastity makes the chastity more desirable, and second, that there is an element of performance in Lucretia’s own enactment of chastity. She must consciously reel back her desire. She must weave at the loom to document her purity.7 Her arousing chastity catches the attention of Sextus Tarquin, who poses as her guest, but in the dead of night, sneaks into her room and forces himself onto her.8 Lucretia’s response is silence, even as Tarquin touches her breast, “the breast touched by a stranger’s hand then for the first time” (tum primum externa pectora tacta manu Ovid, Fastii, 2.804). We are reminded of Lucretia’s chastity, her utter devotion to her husband, but we are also, in this line and in the previous one, drawn to Lucretia’s pectora. The scene, which ought to evoke horror, perhaps inherently, features a strong sensuality. Ovid depicts her trembling like a little lamb (tremit, ut quondam […] parva 3 On chastity as abstinence or marital infidelity see Lesley W. Brill, “Chastity as Ideal Sexuality in the Third Book of the Fairie Queene.” Studies in English Literature 11, 1 (1971): 15-26. On Diana and chastity’s boundaries see J. H. Oliver, “Oscula iungit nec moderata satis nec sic a virgine danda: Ovid’s Callisto Episode, Female Homoeroticism, and the Study of Ancient Sexuality.” American Journal of Philology 136, 2 (2015): 288. 4 King, Desiring Rome, 212. 5 King, Desiring Rome, 212. Ovid describes her, after her speech, as pleasing: hoc ipsum decuit: lacrimae decuere pudicam (2.757). 6 King, Desiring Rome, 206. 7 I will return to further discussion of her chastity as such a performance, the appearance of innocence over genuine innocence on page 6. 8 Ovid, Fastii, 2.791-812.


Ovid, Fastii, 2.799-800), robbed of her options. What are to make of this attractive, helpless, and chaste wife? Can we posit that this kind of erotic depiction was somehow still appropriate to Lucretia and her chastity? Her death scene supports the notion that sensuality is an inherent element to Lucretia’s conduct, and therefore, her chastity. Just before she takes her own life, Ovid claims that she blushes and falls down gracefully, taking care towards her appearance even in death.9 Ovid seems to favour cinematic approaches in his writing at large. Here especially, his language concerning Lucretia and the attitude he prescribes her draws our attention to how Lucretia appears as she performs her most chaste work: she is sexy. Lucretia’s chastity disrupts the expected, gendered behaviour of those around her. She invokes a lust that compels Tarquin to mentally imitate her femininity and dies a heroic death at her own hands. It is only at her death—when neither the threat of her beauty nor violation can persevere—that her chastity can serve its ultimate purpose through Brutus: the reclaiming of male autonomy. The purpose of female chastity is to conserve patrilineality. That is, “to control the exchange of women is important because it guarantees the certainty of paternity.”10 Tarquin’s rape risks that Lucretia might give birth to Tarquin’s child, not her husband’s. Under Tarquin’s tyranny, “there is no legitimate control or exchange of women” because every woman effectually belongs to him.11 Fatherhood serves as the locus of power; the tyrant usurps paternal power. In so doing, he robs men of their power and autonomy, and consequently, their claim to masculinity. However, Tarquin, the omnipotent “father,” compromises his masculinity in light of his infatuation with Lucretia. After watching her at her loom, Tarquin replays his memory of her in his head, mimicking how she sat, how she looked, how she spun thread, and the look on her face as she spoke.12 King argues that Tarquin’s fantasy of her is a

Ovid, Fastii, 2.827-8, 2.833-4. Melissa M. Matthes, Rape of Lucretia and the Founding of Republics: Readings in Livy, Machiavelli, and Rousseau. (Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 2010), 27. 11 Matthes, Rape of Lucretia, 27. 12 Ovid, Fastii, 2.769-78. 9



kind of “mental female drag,” in which Ovid’s use of anaphora and a repetition of demonstratives (Ovid repeats sic and variously declined forms of hic throughout these lines) “mark mimetic or deictic gestures” that signal Tarquin’s internal performance.13 Tarquin, the tyrant, the pinnacle of power over all other men, is suddenly in contrast with Tarquin, playing, albeit in his head, the part of the most chaste woman. This displaced gender follows Lucretia to the day following her rape. Her death, suicide by a dagger she kept concealed in her cloak, is a genderbending performance, neither entirely feminine nor masculine. Though she is a woman, Ovid describes her as “a matron of manly spirit” (animi matrona virilis): her death is masculine. Glendinning argues that Livy’s Lucretia must kill herself because “the knife ‘eradicates unchastity and kills any anomaly in female sexuality.’” But that Lucretia takes her own life in this manly way suggests that chastity must eradicate its own unchastity. Ideal female chastity must include this element of masculinity to reinforce male autonomy. Moreover, recall that as Lucretia falls, she pays careful attention to her appearance, but her husband and father throw themselves over her corpse and lament her death loudly.14 Her masculine decorum is at odds with their feminine grieving, which imitates a common trope of mourning widows. Tracking the gender of her behaviour throughout this final episode, we can perhaps understand Lucretia’s decision to kill herself—veniam vos datis, ipsa nego (the forgiveness you offer me, I deny myself Ovid, Fastii, 2.830.)—as an active, masculine choice; her death, where she is both the perpetrator of her penetration and the object of it, as an ambiguously gendered moment; finally, her corpse, subjected to this gender-bending performance, as the female object that reaffirms her subjugation and simultaneously offers Brutus, who takes the sword— the penetration—from her body,15 an opportunity to reclaim Roman

King, Desiring Rome, 214. Ovid, Fastii, 2.835-6. 15 Ovid, Fastii, 2.838-9. 13 14


men’s forsaken masculinity.16 Her chastity displaces gender— Tarquin’s and her own—in the face of tyranny’s threat on male autonomy. Her chastity is also what resolves this jeopardy by returning her, in death, safely to feminine passivity and giving Brutus his “manhood” (virtus) back.17 However, Lucretia’s masculine assertion over her own death is the very means by which she can reclaim her narrative and be an idealized monument of female chastity. She leverages both her silence and her speech to manipulate her appearance, narrate her own story, and accomplish an immortality, all as a function of her chastity. Lucretia is a woman, the possession of her husband, whose own masculinity is compromised when Tarquin rapes his wife. That Lucretia is raped at all reinforces her object status, and that she must die intimates that she must bear this guilt nevertheless. Everything about her—her beauty, her grace, her concern for her husband, her kind treatment of her guest, her shame, and her death—seem to point to the ultimate, objectified female subject. But something about her does not quite fit this picture. It is not just how she dies, but rather, how she chooses to die that is noteworthy. Lucretia chooses, autonomously and despite the pardon of her family, to kill herself. If she were going to die anyway, why would Lucretia not just avoid the rape altogether, and instead, be killed alongside the slave, as Tarquin threatened?18 And if the rape was inevitable, why must Lucretia still choose to die by suicide? Death is certain in either case, but what she does ultimately choose—that is, to tell her husband and father the truth—allows her to control her narrative. In Lucretia, we learn that chastity is not simply an innocence. Rather, appearance is what matters. Lucretia exercises control over her appearance throughout lines 739 through 852 of Book 2. When we are first introduced to her, we listen to her voice her chaste, matronly concerns over weaving and her military husband. But, as King suggests, the fantasy of the warrior she 16 King, Desiring Rome, 219. King says that Brutus’ taking of the sword from her body is as though “manhood could be transferred with the sword from Lucretia to Brutus.” 17 Ovid, Fastii, 2.844. 18 Ovid, Fastii, 2.807-9.


depicts marks a disjunct between her chaste behaviour and her hidden sexual desire, revealing a performative component within Lucretia’s chastity. When Tarquin forces himself upon her, she is silent (illa nihil [“she [said] nothing”] Ovid, Fastii, 2.797 ). Rood argues that Deianeira’s silence in Trachinae is Deianeira’s tool against a misinterpretation of her intentions. When she cannot control what happened—her manslaughter—Deianeira tries to, at the very least, manage how she appears. She uses her silence as a form of agency to assert her own narrative.19 Similarly, Lucretia chooses to accept Tarquin’s assault because she cannot avoid it. However, her silence during her rape is followed by the morning’s hesitant speech. Lucretia lives to tell her tale precisely because telling her tale—the opportunity to affect her appearance—is a form of agency that Tarquin’s manipulative murder would not provide her. Ovid writes that Lucretia tries and fails thrice to speak. She succeeds only at her fourth attempt, but even then, she cannot manage to look at her husband or father.20 In a declamation that defends a Roman military soldier against the murder of the tribune who threatened to sexually assault him, Gunderson argues that the orator’s hesitation around speaking of male homosexuality, and the declamation’s very nature as a solved case (in favour of the soldier, not the tribune) that is still repeated, speaks to a need in the Roman psyche to reinforce, again and again, a refusal of such a union among men.21 Matthes argues that Tarquin’s rape of Lucretia is an assertion of not only his patriarchal power, but also his political power, mimicking Rhea’s rape in the founding of Rome and serving as his own re-enactment of “his founding claim to authority.”22 Just as Gunderson’s orator hesitates to mention the details of the assault in an attempt to preserve the soldier’s chastity but must if he is to defend the solider and vindicate

Naomi Rood, “Four Silences in Sophocles’ Trachinae,” Arethusa 43, 3 (2010): 351. Ovid, Fastii, 2.823-4. 21 Erik Gunderson, “An Cimbrice loquendum sit: speaking and unspeaking the language of homosexual desire,” in Declamation, Paternity, and Roman Identity: Authority and the Rhetorical Self, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 158. 22 Matthes, Rape of Lucretia, 27. 19 20


homosexual refusal,23 and just as Tarquin must sexually assert himself to ensure his own authority, so too must Lucretia relive her assault. In order to protect her appearance and innocence, Lucretia provides her own, performative account: her three silences, her account of the rape, her modest blushing, and her death by penetration with a sword. Lucretia chooses not to say the final, horrifying details of her assault; her death replaces Tarquin’s violation. She asks, ‘hoc quoque Tarquinio debebimus? eloquar’ inquit, / ‘eloquar infelix dedecus ipsa meum?’ (“Must we owe this, too, to Tarquin?” she said. “Must I speak, unlucky that I am, must I speak of my own disgrace?” Ovid, Fastii, 2.824-5.) Her shying away at these last words are an element of her performance. Lucretia must undergo this retelling if she is to secure her chaste reputation. As Matthes argues, “her reputation is more important than her self-knowledge” and that “she cares not only that she is innocent but that she is perceived as innocent.”24 Lucretia cannot alter Tarquin’s assault; she can, however, maintain her position as an image of chastity and, looking ahead, serve as the catalyst towards Rome’s rejection of tyranny. Gunderson remarks that the repeated character of this declamation suggests that although the soldier was successfully defended against the tribune—that male homosexuality was effectively rejected—the story’s repetition concedes that the threat of homosexuality was never entirely eradicated in Rome. Lucretia’s rape is the event she must retell, and that centuries after, Livy, Ovid and his many contemporaries recall. The role of her chastity in recovering male autonomy is similarly a story that must be repeated. She must assert and reassert her chastity, a chastity whose function is to reclaim a patriarchy that relies on female subjugation for stability, demonstrating that Roman male autonomy is at risk. The eroticism of her depiction, the lust that displaces Tarquin’s gender in his mental drag, and the choice Lucretia makes in her suicide all serve one, key moment: Brutus unearthing the sword buried into her body and claiming that “already, manhood has been dissembled long enough” (iam satis virtus dissimulate diu Ovid, 23 24

Gunderson, “An Cimbrice loquendum sit,” 171. Matthes, Rape of Lucretia, 36.


Fastii, 2.844.). Lucretia’s suicide is shocking and manly, but she must die in order to quell the threat of Tarquin’s rape and to become a corpse, entirely an object of the male gaze.25 Her corpse ensures Brutus’—men’s—subject status. Chastity—really, the patriarchy— begs this of her. This incessant demand that Lucretia must die in fact reveals that Roman masculinity is at stake. Lucretia’s chastity, if she survives, is a threat to all husbands whose wives Tarquin can assault. Her retelling of the story, that is, her assertion of her own agency, are a threat to gendered roles. Female chastity seems unstable, teetering between modest femininity and assertive masculinity, and a single step in the wrong direction—for example, that Lucretia doesn’t kill herself—would fail to achieve male autonomy in the Republic. As King argues, “Lucretia’s husband and father are not her champions, her ideal warrior-rescuer, nor was Sextus. She herself has “manhood,” the iron blade, concealed in her clothes.”26 If the sword never left her cloak or struck her chest, Brutus could not have claimed manhood for himself and for Rome at large. A paradox emerges in such a notion: although Lucretia’s chastity functions as an agency as it empowers men to be men—really, men need Lucretia to become men—her very agency is limited by the men it constitutes. She is allowed agency only insofar as it benefits the men who require her suppression in the first place. Lucretia’s tale does more than illustrate model chastity. Rather, her behaviour reveals the very anxiety of the fragile Roman masculinity that she, and only she, must die to secure. But without her yielding, without her self-exercised silencing, where would male autonomy, the patriarchy of the Roman Republic, be?

25 26

Matthes, Rape of Lucretia, 31. King, Desiring Rome, 219.


Bibliography Brill, Lesley W. “Chastity as Ideal Sexuality in the Third Book of the Fairie Queene.” Studies in English Literature 11, 1 (1971): 1526. Glendinning, Eleanor. "Reinventing Lucretia: Rape, Suicide and Redemption from Classical Antiquity to the Medieval Era." International Journal of the Classical Tradition 20, 1/2 (2013): 61-82. Gunderson, Erik. “An Cimbrice loquendum sit: speaking and unspeaking the language of homosexual desire” In Declamation, Paternity, and Roman Identity: Authority and the Rhetorical Self, 153-190. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003. King, Richard Jackson. Desiring Rome: Male Subjectivity and Reading Ovid’s Fasti. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 2006. Lee, A. G. "Ovid's 'Lucretia’." Greece & Rome 22, 66 (1953): 107-18. Matthes, Melissa M. Rape of Lucretia and the Founding of Republics: Readings in Livy, Machiavelli, and Rousseau. Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 2010. Oliver, J. H. (2015). “Oscula iungit nec moderata satis nec sic a virgine danda: Ovid’s Callisto Episode, Female Homoeroticism, and the Study of Ancient Sexuality.” American Journal of Philology 136, 2 (2015): 281-312. Rood, Naomi. “Four Silences in Sophocles’ Trachinae.” Arethusa 43, 3 (2010): 345-64.


Hercules and Healing Spectacles in the Graeco-Roman Medical Theatre Alisia (Si Hui) Pan Yale University, United States of America Introduction Few figures have left as much reverberations through history as Hercules, a legendary Graeco-Roman hero that has attracted both the attention of Peisistratos in the sixth century BCE in tailoring his myths to garner popular support1 and of Jacques-Louis David in the French Revolution in painting the hero into the iconography of collective power to transform it from one of the most distinct signs of the monarchy into its opposite.2 Much like all other powerful symbols, Hercules’ representation is multi-faceted if not self-contradictory at points. This paper aims to explore the association that lies in one of the many names given to epilepsy, “morbus hercules” or “morbus herculanus”: an association between Hercules and disease that persists in the direct French translation of mal herculéen or mal d’Alcide. For example, in Diseases of Women, the author explains how: When the uterus is near the liver and the hypochondrium and produces suffocation, the woman turns up the white of her eyes, becomes cold (some become even livid), gnashes her teeth, saliva flows into her mouth, and she resembles the persons seized by the Herculean disease” (Diseases of Women, I, ch. 7; vol 8, pp 32-4)

1 Bronwen L. Wickkiser, Asklepios, Medicine, and the Politics of Healing in Fifth-Century Greece (Baltimore: Hopkins University Press, 2008), 94. 2 Lynn Hunt, Politics, Culture, and Class in the French Revolution (London: University of California Press, 2004), 104.


It is possible that specific communities have generally associated lesser gods as healers, in fact, one of Hercules’ many epithets includes Αλεξικακος (Averter of Evil) as he is said to have averted an Athenian plague in the fifth century BCE (School. AD Ar. Ran. 501). This association may be generalized as a mythical eponym adopted partly due to “religious” innovations at the interest of the state, which assigned a variety of newly-created roles to well-known figures in mythology. In the case of Hercules, however, the connection seems more than trivial. It appears more grounded and thought-through than the healers claiming power of efficacy from whatever convenient source, whom Livy criticizes as making money out of medicine by stating: “sine medicis [...] nec tamen sine medicina” (without doctors yet not without medicine) (Naturalis Historia, 29, 11). A possible attempt to connect Hercules to epilepsy is based upon the perception of his greatness, perhaps due the great labours imposed upon him. As such, other diseases such as the incurable skin disease “Herculean Psora” may be named after him using similar logic, as myths of the hero tell of him being affected by a great plethora of diseases due to religious syncretism. Each story may have supplied its justifications separately, but Hercules thematically impose greatness upon the disease.3 Galen, renowned Greek physician and avid commentator of The Hippocratic Corpus, writes that the origin of the name arises as an allegorical phenomenon of the stunning disease « Quelques-uns appellent aussi l'épilepsie la maladie d'Héraclès, non qu'Héraclès en ait souffert, mais le nom d'Héraclès a une vertu indicative ; il marque l'importance de la maladie » (XVII. 2 K 431). This justification is not too far of a stretch from the more common term for epilepsy “the sacred disease,” or what Celsus described as “great disease” (morbus maior). The dominance of such terminology found its way into medieval French quite literally as “grand mal,”4 even though the connection between Hercules and epilepsy remains Owsei Temkin, The Falling Sickness, (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), 19. Though the term grand mal has fallen out of favour more recently, it is still widely acknowledged as an alternative or earlier name for the tonic-clonic type of seizures, involving the stiffening and jerking of muscles. 3 4


indeterminate even among the ancient authors. Plato justified the name by suggesting that the disease causes disturbances to the head, which he regards as the most divine; Aristotle found the link through the excess of black bile which he believed to cause melancholy.5 Analysis of such aetiology proves difficult, however, as Hercules paradoxically embodies strength and disease from the mindset of Graeco-Roman authors and society at large. As explained by Pigeaud, « La folie est violence appliquée à la destruction de soi-même » (madness is violence applied to the destruction of oneself).6 Due to such ambiguities compounded with philosophical differences arising from the differentiation of physicians into sects (haireseis or sectae), it proves near impossible to construct development of pathology along universally accepted lines.7 Even then, it is still fruitful to use the example of Hercules as a spark to better understand the non-linearity and interconnectedness of spheres not traditionally investigated as part of medical history. This paper shall focus on the artistic realm, both material and literary. Archaeological Evidence of Association of Hercules with Surgery Taking into account the lack of antiseptics, antibiotics, and anesthetics, surgeons had to demonstrate that the risk and pain of a surgical procedure was worthwhile. Though in Lucian’s Adversus Indoctum he ridicules the charlatans who provide “ivory splints, silver bleeding cups, and scalpels inlaid with gold,” he simultaneously reflects perceived association between the aesthetics of the surgical tools and ability of the physician. Even if the motivation behind such decorations is disregarded, it is possible to assert that the majority of metal Graeco-Roman surgical tools had features of decoration — geometric or natural. Apart from motifs of animals and vegetation, the motif of interest to this paper can be identified as a “knotty limb” that features a pattern resembling knots in tree trunks. Bliquez specifically outlines eighteen occurrences of this “knotty limb” pattern on surgical Tempkin, The Falling Sickness, 4. Jack Pigeaud, La Maladie de L’Ame, (Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1981), 407-410. 7 Temkin, The Falling Sickness, 29. 5 6


tools.8 Confidence in such identification arises from attempts by other scholars.9 Though it is possible to adopt such a pattern for practical reasons such as strengthening the grip by roughening the surface, other designs would be equally if not more effective.10 There also seems to be little aesthetic consideration for preference of tree limbs over other natural designs. As such, the popularity of this pattern suggests symbolic considerations. First suggested by Hassel and Kunzl, there exists a potential connection between the “knotty limb” pattern and the club of Hercules.11 The association of the hero’s famous weapon is so wellknown that the imagery became a symbol of the hero himself. To entertain this connection, association with other figures related to medicine would need to be eliminated. One such suggestion arose from Milne in 1907, who argued for the identification with Minerva Medica.12 However, the “knotty limb” pattern appears along with a figure covered in unmistakable lion skin on knife handles from Pompeii, or more specifically surgical scalpels given the sub-triangular shape frequently referred to in Graeco-Roman surgical treatists as “breast-shaped” or “bellied.”13 Of the ancient toolkit available, the surgical scalpel is a dominating symbol of the medical profession most commonly selected to memorialize surgeons.14 Concurrent usage of both the club and the Nemean skin equipped by the Dorian hero provide uncoincidental establishment of Hercules as an important motif of Graeco-Roman surgical tools, and thus an inexplicable part of Graeco-Roman medical philosophy.

Lawrence J Bliquez, “Greek and Roman Medicine,” Archaeologia 34, no. 2 (1981): 12. SeeFranz Josef Hassel and Ernst Künzl, “Ein römisches Arztgrab des 3. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. aus Kleinasien,” Medizinhistorisches Journal 15, no. 4 (1980), 407; Emilie Riha et al., Römisches Toilettgerät Und Medizinische Instrumente Aus Augst Und Kaiseraugst (Augst: Römermuseum, 1986), 82. 10 Jackson, 140. 11 Hassel and Künzl, 403-421. 12 John Stuart Milne, Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times (Chicago: Ares Publishers, 1976), 19, 25. 13 Bliquez, 36. 14 Jackson,132. 8 9


This association of Hercules and this motif on instruments of healing may parallel instances of the widespread use of snake imagery with the healing god Asclepius.15 Cases may also be made for other healing deities such as a mouse-shaped handle which alludes to Sminthian Apollo.16 Though the Herculean motif predominated only in the first through the third century CE, it is still perplexing that the knotty limb motif should be more frequently encountered than those of Asclepius given the central importance of the latter in Graeco-Roman medicine. There are indeed infrequent instances of Hercules presented as the central figure of sporadic and minority cults, however, their emphasis on religious healing still provides little explanation for the appearance of Herculean motifs in the rational scientific realm of medicine.17 In attempting to justify the invocation of Hercules for medical instruments, it might be helpful to understand both the broader phenomena of the apotropaic club of Hercules used on protecting amulets18 and the narrower concentration of the knotty limb motif as particularly called upon in surgical instruments causing immense pain. The pattern is associated most frequently with items such as “probes/needles, scalpels, elevators, retractors [...] and birthing hooks” but never on instruments used for tamer situations (e.g. spoons, spatulae).19 If the amount of pain caused by an event should serve as a standard for categorizing experiences, then the association of a pain-enduring hero with tools used in situations of distress seems rationalized. As the surgeon probes the patient to recall the hero’s life of labour and hardship, especially given how the prominent hero 15 Kunzl, 49. Example of Asclepius on pestle in the Meyer-Steineg collection in Jena where he holds out a patera to feed the snake; the snake as the symbol of the god appears on wellknown trivalve specula in Naples. See Ernst Künzl, Medizinische Instrumente aus Sepulkralfunden der römischen Kaiserzeit (Bonn: Sonderdruck aus den Bonner Jahrbüchern, 1983), Abb. 7, 18 (8), 80 (1), 81. 16 Kunzl, 1982. 17 Excavation of a spring near Deneuvre provides evidence for a healing sanctuary accredited to Hercules as the hero is portrayed on stellae with sacrificial votive of an eye and numerous salutary invocations. For more on these scattered alcoves, See Moitrieux, 1987. 18 See Joachim Werner, “Herkuleskeule und Donar-Amulett,” Jahrbuch des RömischGermanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz 11 (1964): 176-197. 19 Bliquez, 44.


served as a magnet for a great variety of such stories,20 the hope would be that the health of the patients may be promoted through endurance. Such may be the preliminary suggestions for at least a substantial 25 specimens of the Herculean symbol on surgical tools within the Roman empire between the first and third centuries CE. If it were true that Hercules served as an apotropaic force in helping the citizens combat illness as one of the many evils that he may be evoked to avert, then the taste of the patients would at least reinforce a physician’s usage of Herculean symbols. Public opinion is ultimately important in understanding any social phenomenon. Literary Evidence of Association of Hercules with Medicine Within the social context of Graeco-Roman society, epilepsy as a disease was particularly prone to interpretation in both physiological and supernatural terms because of its exhibition of both physical and psychological symptoms. Additionally, and perhaps even worse to the classical mind, the horrid symptoms of a sudden epileptic fit are extremely disagreeable. It will not yield either to the physician or the changes of age, so as to take its departure, but lives with the patient until death. And sometimes the disease is rendered painful by its convulsions and distortions of the limbs and of the face; and sometimes it turns the mind distracted. The sight of a paroxysm is disagreeable, and its departure disgusting with spontaneous evacuations of the urine and of the bowels.” (Aretaus, Causes and Symptoms of Chronic Diseases, Ch. IV)

As such, there was a great amount of gruesome remedies for epilepsy and it was widely believed that action would be required to “throw back contagion” (Naturalis historia, 28, 35; vol.4, p.162). Three hundred years before Pliny the Elder, Theophrastus explained that “when he sees a madman or an epileptic, he shudders and spits in his bosom” (Characters, 16). Such a practice remained clear enough that in Plautus’ plays, it is enough to mention “et illic isti qui insputatur morbus 20 As Galinsky writes: “Herakles satisfied the personal cult needs that were left unfulfilled by the state religion and thus came to share in the same religious intensity that was accorded the oriental cults for exactly the same reason… Herakles, in short, regained religious function similar to those he had held in sixth-century Greece: he was once more the ἀλεξίκακoς, the patron saint who would help one overcome all imaginable difficulties of life and hence he was called invictus, the invincible one” (Galinsky, 127).


interdum venit” (“the disease which is spit upon”) when referring to epilepsy (Captivi). The portrayal of madness in theatre is not limited to satires of Plautus. Indeed, in Hercules Furens, the tragic hero is sent into madness by the goddess Lyssa on orders from Hera. The tragic hero is only pulled out of the frenzy, after killing his own children, by the goddess Athena who puts the hero to sleep by throwing a stone at his chest. Though it would be easy to generalize and assume that the portrayal of mythological stories written to maximize theatrical effect would regularly attribute mental disturbances to divine agency and ignore physiological explanations, there exists an abundance of parallel between tragic and medical descriptions of disease. Rationalization of Cerebral Disease The Hippocratic Corpus stands as a clear deviation from previous literature as diseases of the mind were not regarded as essentially different when compared to diseases of the body. As such, the Hippocratic physicians put forward similar accounts of natural causation and viewed such diseases to be equally investigable and treatable. In fact, the Hippocratic author of The Sacred Disease attacked the belief that “if the patient acts like a goat, if he roars, or has convulsions on his right side, they say that the Mother of the Gods is responsible” (VI. 260,10-362,6L). Other examples of justifying mental afflictions to bodily sources may be seen in Caelius Aurelianus and Plato: Following Empedocles, they say that one form of madness comes about from the purification of the soul and another from mental aberration arising from a bodily cause or indisposition. It is this latter form of madness that we shall now consider. The Greeks call it mania, because it produces great mental anguish (which they name ania); or because there is excessive relaxation of the soul or mind” (Caelius Aurelianus, on chronic diseases I. 5) Diseases of the soul are caused by the body in the following way. Granted that folly (anoia) is a disease of the soul; and of folly there are two kinds: madness (mania) and stupidity (amathia). Therefore, every affection one suffers, which involves either one of these conditions, must be termed a ‘disease.’ [...] For no one is voluntarily wicked, but the wicked man becomes wicked on account of some evil disposition of the body and an uneducated upbringing. These are hateful things that happen to every man against his will. (Plato, Timaeus 86 B-E)


It may be helpful to understand these attempts of rationalizing disease in the broader context, starting with the Milesian natural philosophers such as Anximander and Anaximenes, who explain natural phenomena in terms of physical constituents. For example, rain may have been previously attributed to the activity of the god of sky and thunder, Zeus, but was then beginning to be held as compression by clouds. Similar outlooks were applied by physicians to explain the natural causation of disease, with the most potent parallels of imagery growing between the convulsive nature of epilepsy and earthquakes as the ramifying structure of the earth were seen as branching arteries and veins of the human body.21 Effect of Hippocratic Medicine on Theatrical Realism Importantly, the bulk of the ancient treatises collected in the Hippocratic Corpus would be contemporaneous, and thus influential, for the work at the end of Euripides’ career and throughout Sophocles’. Tragic authors are inspired by medical descriptions in their representation of pathological diseases on stage, as they attempt to make their work more realistic, emphatic, spectacular, and thus tragic. One such example, the fit of madness that Orestes undergoes as Euripides describes, indicates a close parallel to the movements of the patient described by the Hippocratic author of The Sacred Disease. The troubled Orestes speaks wildly to the phantoms with eyes disturbed and leaps out of the couch to break violently from his sister Electra’s grip.22 Once he recovers from the fit for which Apollo is blamed (while Electra thinks it to be caused by his mind seeing phantom horrors), he remembers nothing and loses all energy that he had in his fit when threatening conjured goddesses with arrows.23 21

John Z. Wee, “Earthquake and Epilepsy: The Body Geologic in the Hippocratic Treatise «On the Sacred Disease»,” in The Comparable Body: Analogy and Metaphor in Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and Greco-Roman Medicine (Boston: Brill, 2017), 142-167. 22 Euripides, “Orestes,” in The Complete Greek Tragedy. Edited by Whitney J. Oates and Eugene J. ONeill. Translated by E P Coleridge. (New York: Random House, 1938). 23 Orestes in a proximate passage thanks sweet absorbing sleep as the healer of sickness, he is grateful for their visit. A potential reminder of the concurrent rise in popularity of rational Hippocratic medicine and cultish Asclepian healing.


Such a description may not depict an epileptic fit exactly, but fits carefully into descriptions of seizures where patients throw themselves out of sleep, perform uncontrolled actions during hallucination, and fall weak after the fit while regaining lucidity (The Sacred Disease, ch. 1, 6.354,7-10 L.).24 The realism of Euripides’ characters may be better appreciated when compared with the appearance of Phaedra in the 17th century French tragedy Phedre et Hippolyte by Jean Racine. While Euripidian Phaedra asks her nurse to help sit her up in bed because she “feels that the joints of [her] poor members are broken” (Hippolytus, 199), the Racinian adaptation of Phaedra exclaims that her “shaking knees give away from under [her]” (Phedre et Hippolyte, 156). Euripides found it proper to confine patients to bed, whereas Racine ignored such considerations. Though Racine may have eliminated such a clinical description for a plethora of reasons, it remains distinctive and important that Euripides was dedicated to portraying a bedridden patient. Specific word choice makes it more clear that Greek tragedy writers were mindful of clinical descriptions observed by Hippocratic authors. It would be no coincidence that the heroes of Sophocles, Ajax (Ajax 447) and Heracles (Trachinians 794), both conquered by madness, have eyes “which roll in every direction,'' where the adjective used (diastrophos) is shared with the Hippocratic verb “diastrephomai.” Further, Euripedes combines the symptoms of rolling of the eyes and frothing from the mouth in Medea (1173-5) and Bacchae (1122-3), all the while combining physical symptoms with loss of reasoning present throughout The Hippocratic Corpus as well. Other symptoms observed in medical treatises are more sporadically drawn upon, though still poignant when used. One such case is that of Euripides’ Orestes when “one of the strangers leaves the cave, gets up, and, shaking his head, groans whilst his hands shake” (Iphigenia in Tauris, 281-3). These 24 Further reading on Orestes’ madness, see F. Donadi, “In margine alla follia di Oreste,” Boll. dell’Istituto di Filologia greca 1, (1974):111–127.


symptoms strongly recall the “hands that shake” as documented in The Sacred Disease as a diagnostic characteristic for the onset of an epileptic fit. These parallels demonstrate interesting connections between the medical and theatrical texts, though they do not conclude that fits of madness in tragedy were based only on templates of epilepsy in medicine. There exist contradictions such as how epileptics lose their voice in The Sacred Disease whereas tragic hero “wandering in a fit of madness, [cries] out like a hunter” (Iphigenia in Tauris, 284). Effect of Tragic Theatre on Hippocratic Corpus In exploring the relationship between medicine and theatre, it seems appropriate but difficult to identify the causal impact of one sphere on the other. Part of the complication might be elucidated by also examining how portions of the rational Hippocratic Corpus are impacted by theatre, or how the two disciplines share similar origins of older ideas not yet eradicated completely. After all, common parallel redactions in the Corpus suggest that the texts are derived from common models that no longer survive.25 A close reading of the Corpus reveals important remnants of an established understanding of disease as an aggressive, feral and external force that attacks metaphorically in both tragic and medicinal accounts of disease. In tragedy, the adjective ἄγριος (“wild”) denoting pathological phenomena of savage disease appears in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides. Orestes in Choephori speaks of “ulcers with a wild bite” (280 ff.: ἄγρίος γνἀθοις/ λειχηνας) when recalling the disease prophesied by Apollo’s oracles; the expression ἀγρία νόσος (“wild disease”) is employed when Heracles suffers from the poisoned tunic in the Trachiniae (v. 1026 and 1030) and when the hero in Philoctetes complains of the abandonment of Neoptolemus when he was consumed by wild disease; and the same expression is used by Electra to describe the disease that has overtaken Orestes (lines 34 ff.). These tragedies are situated contemporarily to the rise of rational 25 Jacques Jouanna, “Hippocratic Medicine and Greek Tragedy,” in Greek Medicine from Hippocrates to Galen (Boston: Brill, 2012), 75.


medicine; not only did the usage of beastly disease decline as a motif, but the theme of medicinal science was most extensively employed in the latest works of Philoctetes and Orestes. In those works, the feral qualities of the disease are transferred to the patients as well, who are described with the verb form in the passive perfect (ήγρίωσαι in Orestes lines 226, 387 and ἀπηγριωμένος in Philoctetes line 226).26 An interesting comparison then arises, shining further light on the role of Heracles in medicine. As put by Jacques Jouanna based on his analysis of Letter 2, “Hippocrates the doctor, who rids the earth and sea of beastly and wild diseases, is compared to Heracles, who rids the world of wild beasts.” This metaphorical link is further justified by a coin from Cos, preserved in the National Library of Paris (no. 1246), on which portraits of Hippocrates and of Hercules with his club stand on two sides of the same coin. Such an artifact confirms the assertion of Pliny the Elder that Hercules and the deified Hippocrates were held with the same regard: “Hippocratis medicina, qui venientem ab Illyriis pestilentiam praedixit discipulosque ad auxiliandum circa urbes dimist, quod ob meritum honores illi quos Herculi decrivit Graecia” (Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. 7, Ch. 37, 123). Thematic Intersections of Theatre and Medicine The intersection of medicine and theatre is not restricted to the level of physiological descriptions of the patient. Tragic authors often employed their creativity to highlight pertinent problems discussed in the mouth of characters. In the same passage as the madness of Orestes, descriptions of the actions of madness are interspersed with illustrations of the emotions of his sister Electra. Once sense is restored to Orestes, he feels shame for making his sister suffer and thus describes himself as more a corpse than a living man to his uncle Menelaus (Orestes, 380). The concern that the tragic author exhibits 26 However, as Jouanna explains, it should be noted that the hero’s feral qualities in Philoctetes may have arisen from the fact that the hero lives in the physical company of beasts. More information about the wild in Orestes, refer to P. N. Boutler, “The theme of AGRIA in Euripides ‘Orestes’,” Phoenix 16 (1962), 102-106. For more textual analysis of similarities and differences between Hippocratic physicians and tragedy writers, see J. Jouanna, Greek Medicine from Hippocrates to Galen (2012).


here extends beyond the physical recognition of symptoms but rather aims to intellectually stimulate the audience. The sentiment is shared in other tragic plays as well as in scientific writing. As Phaedra’s nurse complains that “it is better to be sick than having to cure” (Orestes, 186), the Hippocratic treatise Breath highlights the difficulty of being a doctor who needs to “[see] terrible things, [touch] disagreeable things and, regarding the misfortunes of others, [reap] the despondencies of others, whilst the patients escape from the greatest harm thanks to his art” (Ch.1, 6.90 L). Beneath an overarching commentary about the role and associated weight of a medical caretaker, discussions of the most effective treatment methods and healing ideologies in medical treatises are also adopted in theatre. As such, a character of Euripides declares that “all those who wish to heal properly should take into consideration the diet of the inhabitants of the city as well as its terrain to study disease” (Euripides, fr 917). This is not unlike how in another fragment, Euripides employs an intermediary to praise the temperate climate of his homeland which “makes the most beautiful things grow” (ἐκτρέφει κά ιστα) (Euripides, fr. 981 Nauck). The influence of such a focus on environmental factors likely grows from the Hippocratic treatise Airs, Waters, Places in which the climates of Europe are criticized in contrast with those of Asia, the land which “makes the most beautiful things grow” (ἐκτρέφει κά ιστα). In these references, through direct word choice or insinuated thought process, Euripides writes his plays as if he is communicating with an audience well-versed in medical terminology, practice, and ideology. This certainly speaks to Euripides’ level of expertise in medical literature but, much like how the usage of Herculean relief on surgical tools partially reflects the taste and mindset of the patients, the discussion of medicinal practices in theatre is evidence that there was significant interest from his audience in frontier perspectives of science. After all, those who voted for public doctors to make technical speeches in public as part of the application process would have been


the public citizens, who would have attended the plays of Euripides in the theatre of Dionysus at Athens.27 Conclusion This paper begins by interrogating Hercules’ role in medicine which opens an avenue onto less expected sources of evidence for ancient medical debates and cultural trends. In the first section, this paper examines how archaeological evidence depicting the “knotty limb” pattern establishes the popular belief in Hercules’ healing powers. Art and religion are invoked to optimize results of surgical treatments. Then, textual analyses of Greek tragedies around the same time period demonstrate the increase in purely physiological descriptions of disease, particularly of madness, which was most easily attributed to divine powers. This trend illustrates how a public audience, a majority of which would not have had access to the treatises, was interested in the latest scientific and philosophical developments. The impact of rational medicine on theatre also exhibits a reverse phenomenon, wherein shared depictions of diseases as feral attacks clarify the fundamental beliefs and the incomplete transition to rational medicine. In the broader scheme, the end of the fifth century was a paradoxical era. As the rational medicine symbolized by The Hippocratic Corpus was widely adopted, the fanciful medicine of the healing god Asclepius was flourishing across the ancient world. As such, this essay has aimed to explore the ambiguity of classical Greek thought by addressing the connections between art objects, tragic plays, and medical treatises. Hercules should then be acknowledged not only as a motif on surgical tools or in Greek theatres, but also as an important link to understanding medical thought. A modern physician may deem disciplines not strictly within scientific medicine to be unrelated and irrelevant to future developments. However, the rich body of Greek 27 Rhetoric was an important part of the medical profession as demonstrated through the oratorial battles between doctors before the public in Plato (Gorgias, 456b) and in Decorum of The Hippocratic Corpus, and in chapter 3 “Rhetoric and Medicine in the Hippocratic Corpus” in Studies in Ancient Medicine by van der Eijk, Hanson, and Zeigler.


medicine did not and could not have developed without influences from literary and artistic spheres.


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Noll, R. “Zwei römerzeitliche Grabfunde aus Rumanien in der Wiener Antikensammlung.” Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz, 31 (1984): 435-454. Pigeaud, Jack. La Maladie de L’Ame. Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1981. Riha, Emilie, Marcel Joos, Schibler Jörg, and Willem B. Stern. Römisches Toilettgerät Und Medizinische Instrumente Aus Augst Und Kaiseraugst. Augst: Römermuseum, 1986. Temkin, Owsei. The Falling Sickness. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994. Wee, John. “Earthquake and Epilepsy: The Body Geologic in the Hippocratic Treatise «On the Sacred Disease»” in The Comparable Body: Analogy and Metaphor in Ancient Mesopotamian, Egyptian, and GrecoRoman Medicine, 142-167. Boston: Brill, 2017. Werner, Joachim. “Herkuleskeule und Donar-Amulett.” Jahrbuch des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums Mainz, 11 (1964): 176-197. Wickkiser, Bronwen. Asklepios, Medicine, and the Politics of Healing in Fifth-Century Greece. Baltimore: Hopkins University Press, 2008.


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