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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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Poetic Play with Sex and Gender

Poetic Play with Sex and Gender

(p.72) Chapter 3 Poetic Play with Sex and Gender
Sexing the World

Anthony Corbeill

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines selected instances of grammatical gender-bending that occur in extant poetic texts, for most of which instances scholars both ancient and modern have largely chosen not to offer explanations. The passages chosen are meant to demonstrate the potential range of approaches that the poets could apply to the manipulation of grammatical gender. The chapter begins with a survey of visual evidence from antiquity to demonstrate that, with only apparent exceptions, personifications in ancient Rome are depicted with the sex that corresponds to the grammatical gender of the noun that describes them. It then considers poetic texts that provide various examples in which a poet plays with the notion of personification through the exploitation of a noun's gender. It concludes with an analysis of Catullus 6, where sensitivity to grammatical gender contributes to the riddling nature of the poem.

Keywords:   poets, grammatical gender, personification, ancient Rome, sex, gender, Catullus 6

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