Of Androgynes and Men: Gender Fluidity in Republican Rome

  • Author / Creator
    Cytko,Elizabeth V J
  • Examining texts from the end of the Republic, an in-depth Roman perspective may be gained from the different writers preserved during this well-documented period. I intend to not only set up a working basis of masculinity but to argue that the Romans understood gender as a spectrum rather than a binary. Removing gender from a binary opens up new ways to critically examine Roman society in the Late Republic. Understanding Roman gender as a spectrum allows a broader and more nuanced understanding of how precarious status was politically and socially. Gender, however, in many ways is an inadequate term to use as a descriptor to comprehend the various segregations within society that often are entwined together. Sex within this paper can be understood as regulatory norms which demarcate and differentiate the bodies it controls. Gender is how the person performs the regulatory norms and how they are perceived within society. In effect the concept of gender does not simply indicate whether someone is a man or a woman, but is tied up with other important aspects such as the ability to participate in politics, how much authority one has, and expectations of performance according to the set norms. Opening up the conversation as to how gender acts as a policing force within society, allows more scrutiny to be applied to how it affected one’s position amongst one’s peers. One can define this idea as ‘social gender,’ where gender fluctuates according to how others perceive the person. For ease of understanding I will call the two ends of the spectrum familiar terms – masculinity and femininity. I will construct my definition of masculinity from Cicero, focusing on his complicated relationship with Publius Clodius Pulcher. After examining gender in a Roman context, I will then look at how the Gallic priests’ willing castration challenged the idea of masculine gender. The Gallic priests challenge the norms governing gender, as they deviate from the role expected of men, yet do not fit into the category of woman. Gender is viewed as an interactive performance that changes according to how peers receive it, making the binary an outmoded manner of understanding complex social interactions.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Arts
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
  • Specialization
    • Ancient Societies and Cultures
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Ens, Gerhard (History)
    • MacFarlane, Kelly (Classics)
    • Harris, John (Classics)