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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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Androgynous Gods in Archaic Rome

Androgynous Gods in Archaic Rome

(p.104) Chapter 4 Androgynous Gods in Archaic Rome
Sexing the World

Anthony Corbeill

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines the role of grammatical gender in daily religious experience by focusing on androgynous gods in ancient Rome. It shows that the grammatical gender of a god's name matches the perceived sex of its imagined incarnation. This observation is extended to an analysis of the indigetes, a set of minor deities who seem to have ruled every aspect of daily life, and to whom the Romans appealed, in particular at significant transitional stages such as birth, marriage, and death. A tendency to group gods in sexed pairs is evident in the numerous extant allusions to these deities, as well as to other divine powers. The chapter concludes by showing how this originary state of divine androgyny—whether historical or the product of intellectual speculation—collapses over time in ways analogous to the loss of fluid gender for nouns.

Keywords:   grammatical gender, androgynous gods, ancient Rome, sex, indigetes, deities, divine androgyny, fluid gender, nouns

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