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Sexing the WorldGrammatical Gender and Biological Sex in Ancient Rome$
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Anthony Corbeill

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691163222

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691163222.001.0001

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The Prodigious Hermaphrodite

The Prodigious Hermaphrodite

Chapter:
(p.143) Chapter 5 The Prodigious Hermaphrodite
Source:
Sexing the World
Author(s):

Anthony Corbeill

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691163222.003.0006

This chapter examines the change in attitudes toward the human hermaphrodite that extant texts depict as occurring in the transition between the periods of the late Roman Republic and early Roman Empire. It first considers Greek approaches to androgyny before explaining how the human hermaphrodite differed from other prodigies. It suggests that the slippery nature of their sexuality placed the hermaphrodites in the category of the religious sacred, capable of having unimaginable effects on the real world. The chapter also explores the concept of sacer and shows how the combination of the sacred and the mysterious finds analogues with the fluid-gendered nouns and the androgynous divinities of the Roman past. It concludes with an analysis of St. Augustine's discussion of the hermaphrodite, which unites the book's themes of grammar, divine power, human bodies with dual sexuality, and the origins of human culture.

Keywords:   hermaphrodites, androgyny, religious sacred, sacer, prodigies, nouns, St. Augustine, grammar, divine power, dual sexuality

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