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Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy


published on March 14, 2017

Aaron Shenkman
DOI: 10.5840/epoche20173886

Multus Homo Es
Desire, Identity, and Conquest in Catullus’s Carmina

Quietly nestled in Catullus’s early love poems, there are two grammatical ambiguities that, although provoking heated grammatical discussion in the commentary tradition, have been completely overlooked by more literary and theoretical writers. In these brief moments, the distinction between man and women, lover and loved, vir and irrumatus, becomes problematized, to say the least. Moving through and unpacking the form of Roman masculinity that is so prevalent in Catullus’s poetry, this paper looks to ultimately understand the place of these ambiguities in our collection of Catullus’ work. In so doing, it explores and uncovers a fundamental engagement with the gender-political situation in Rome, and ultimately attempts to show how Catullus not only bests his male counterparts through his poetry, but also deconstructs the very idea of what it is to be a vir in the first place.