Gendered and Gendering Insults and Compliments in the Latin Novels
The chief and subsidiary narrators (generally male) in Petronius and Apuleius’ fictions voice judgments on men’s and women’s actions, words and other sounds, and gestures. These and other behaviors are described as suitable or objectionable for their sex. Sexual and gender codes are fundamental to the functioning of every face-to-face society. This paper examines examples of denotative, evaluative, and metaphoric language for males and for females in the two novels (e.g., vir, homo, dominus--furcifer, tortor, latro, verbero, stuprator, semivir; puella, virgo, femina, matrona, domina, anus, mulier--meretrix, scortum, succuba, milvium). We then examine frequently associated gendered and gendering adjectives (e.g., prudens, sceleratus/a, nequissimus/a, virilis, virginalis) and gender paradoxes, such as Giton’s and Encolpius’ “girlish” behaviors and Psyche and Charite’s “manly spirits” (Sat. 80-82; Met. 5.22, 6.27, 8.14). These two writers endorse and reinforce asymmetrical and misogynistic elements infused in Roman conversation, third-person description, and interior reflection.
Lateiner, Donald, "Gendered and Gendering Insults and Compliments in the Latin Novels" (2013). Classics Faculty Work. 40.
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