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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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Roman Poets on Grammatical Gender

Roman Poets on Grammatical Gender

(p.41) Chapter 2 Roman Poets on Grammatical Gender
Sexing the World

Anthony Corbeill

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines eight different explanations that scholars have put forward since antiquity for the literary phenomenon of the non-standard gender. More specifically, it investigates why some poets were thought to have greater access to literary authority than others. The explanations range from semantic distinctions to morphology and analogy, metrical convenience, sound, and Greek intertextuality. Informing these various ancient explanations is an assumption that the desire and ability of the most highly respected poets to transform grammatical gender provides tangible evidence of the superior knowledge that these poets possess of the relationship between language and the natural world. Roman scholars attributed to poets the privileged knowledge of an early poetic language, one that had access to mythic and folkloric associations dating back to the period when the Latin language was first coming into existence.

Keywords:   non-standard gender, poets, literary authority, morphology, analogy, sound, Greek intertextuality, grammatical gender, poetic language, Latin language

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