Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Challenging Gender Roles: Telesilla, Suidas in Telesilla T.260

Telesilla poetria. Huic statua posita est, ad cuius pedes libri iacent: galea vero capiti eius imposita est. Etenim cum Lacedaemonii, interfectis iis, qui in templum Argorum confugerant, ad urbem capiendum irent, Telesilla mulieres, quae per aetatem arma ferre poterant, armavit, et sic hostibus obviam processit. Quod conspicati Lacedaemonii retro cesserunt, turpe ducentes cum mulieribus pugnare, quas et vincere nulla sit gloria, et a quibus vinci, magnum sit dedecus.

--Suidas, in Telesilla, [T.260]; Translated into Latin by Ludolfus Kufterus


Telesilla the Poet: She is depicted with a helmet upon her head and with books scattered at her feet. For when the Lacedaemonians had killed those who had fled to the temple in Argos, and had marched against the city to capture it,  Telesilla armed the women capable of battle and went out to meet the enemy. When the Lacedaemonians saw them, they retreated, thinking it would be inappropriate to fight against women, since they would earn no glory if they won, but great shame if they lost.

The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Ancient Rome: Livy, AUC XXXI.12

TRIGGER WARNING: During early Roman history, the birth of an intersex child was seen as a bad omen. This passage gives explicit details of the inhumane treatment of these unfortunate children. However, the fact that an intersex child was discovered at the age of 16 shows that some parents were successful in protecting their intersex children from Rome's brutal religious laws.


curam expiandae uiolationis eius templi prodigia etiam sub idem tempus pluribus locis nuntiata accenderunt. in Lucanis caelum arsisse adferebant, Priuerni sereno per diem totum rubrum solem fuisse, Lanuui i<n> templo Sospitae Iunonis nocte strepitum ingentem exortum. iam animalium obsceni fetus pluribus locis nuntiabantur: in Sabinis incertus infans natus, masculus an femina esset, alter sedecim iam annorum item ambiguo sexu inuentus; Frusinone agnus cum suillo capite, Sinuessae porcus cum capite humano natus, in Lucanis in agro publico eculeus cum quinque pedibus. foeda omnia et deformia errantisque in alienos fetus naturae uisa: ante omnia abominati semimares iussique in mare extemplo deportari, sicut proxime C. Claudio M. Liuio consulibus deportatus similis prodigii fetus erat. 


--Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, XXXI.12


Furthermore, the fact that numerous bad omens were reported in many places at that time period encouraged the Romans to expiate the violation of the Temple of Persephone [in Locri]. For in Lucania, they say that the sky burned red; at Privernum, the sun was red throughout the entire day, even though the sky was clear; at the Temple of Juno Sospita in Lanuvium, a giant crash was reported. Furthermore, unusual births were announced in many places: among the Sabines, a child of uncertain sex was born, and another person of ambiguous sex was found at the age of sixteen. At Frusino a lamb was born with a pig’s head; at Sinuessa, a pig was born with a human head; and on public land at Lucania, a colt was born with five feet. These unhealthy omens and misshapen births seemed to show nature straying into different paths: of all these omens, the ill-omened intersex children were immediately ordered to be dragged out to sea, as similar children had been treated during the consulship of C. Claudius and M. Livius.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

M/M: A Praise of Patroclus: Maximus of Tyre, Diss. VIII

Et ecce statim in principio operis amatores introducit duos, qui de captiva una inter se certant, quorum alter audax est & furiosus: alter lenior quidem, huius tamen perturbationis haud immunis. Alter ex oculis flammam iacit, omnibusque maledicit, et minatur ordine: alter tacite recedit, humi lacrimans procumbit & anxius oberrat: discessurum denique se ait, cum maneat. Alia est impudici amoris imago, quam in Paride habes, qui proelio se subducit, thalamum intrat, et ubique moecho est similis. Invenies et castum amorem, qui utrinque mutuo respondet, quem in Hectore habes & Andromache: quae viro suo et amatori Hectori, patris fratrisque et si quae praeterea amicissima sunt tribuit nomina. Ille vicissim, ne de matre quidem sua se tam sollicitum esse ait, quam de illa. Habes et Venereum in concubitu Iunonis & Iovis. Et libidinosum, in procis: illecebrosum in Calypsone, veneficum in Circe, virilem in Patroclo: qui labore mutuo accenditur, et ad mortem usque constans manet. Quorum uterque iuvenis, uterque pulcher, uterque castus est. Alter instruit, alter instruitur, alter dolet, solatur alter, alter canit, auscultat alter. Affectum amatorium et hoc exprimit, quod cum pugnae potestatem sibi fieri optet Patroclus, lacrimetur tanquam non impetraturus hoc ab amante. Qui tamen et veniam illi concedit, et arma sua. Sed et cunctante eo metuit, et iam mortuo mori quoque optat, iramque suam deponit. Amatoriae sunt et nocturnae visiones, et somnia, et lacrimae illae: donum postremo ultimum quod sepulchro impendit, capillus. Haec sunt amatoria Homeri.

--Maximus of Tyre, Dissertation VIII, Translated from the Greek by Claudius Larjot


Right at the beginning of the Iliad, Homer presents us with two lovers who are fighting over a captive woman: one [Agamemnon] is bold and passionate, the other [Achilles] is soft spoken, but not impervious to feeling emotion. The one [Agamemnon] shoots daggers from his eyes, slanders everyone, and threatens each and everyone present; the other [Achilles] quietly leaves, throwing himself on the ground and weeping, lost; he says he will leave, but stays nonetheless.

Another type of love is shameful love, the kind that Paris has: he withdraws from the heat of battle to snuggle with his lover, and is an adulterer in every sense of the word.

You can also find perfect love [castum amorem], which is reciprocal, the kind that Hector and Andromache shared. Andromache called Hector her husband and lover, her husband and brother, and every other name shared with a loved one. In turn, he told her that he was more worried for her than for his own mother.

You can read about sexual love [Venereum] in the bedding scene of Juno & Jupiter.

You can read about lust in Penelope’s suitors; seductive love in the case of Calypso; loves brought about by love potions with Circe, and manly love [virilem] in the case of Patroclus. This love [between Patroclus and Achilles] is brought about by mutual effort, and remains steadfast even in death. It exists between two young men, both beautiful, both consensual [castus]. They both take care of each other. One grieves, the other consoles; one sings, the other enjoys the song.

The one expresses his feelings to the other: when Patroclus wants permission to join the fight, on the verge of tears if he wasn’t allowed by his lover. Yet when Achilles allows him to join the Greeks in battle, he gave both his blessing and even his own weapons. And Achilles is terrified while Patroclus is engaged in battle, and wishes to die when Patroclus is slain, and then resolves his anger. His nightly visions, his dreams, his tears are all proof of his love for Patroclus: even the lock of hair that he offers to his lover’s tomb in a final gift [is proof].

These are the types of love you find in Homer.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Aphrodite, Come! Sappho VIII

Ades, Venus, aureis
in poculis, elegantibus
commixtum germinibus
nectar ut affundas
his amicis
meisque tuisque.

Ἕλθε, Κύπρι,
Χπρυσίασιν ἐν κυλίκεσσιν ἄβραισ
συμμεμιγμένον θαλίαισι νέκταρ
     οἰνοχόεισα

--Sappho, Fragment 8 (modern fragment 6) Translated from the Greek by Johannis Christianus Wolfius

Come, Venus, 
pour the nectar mixed with savory herbs, 
pour the nectar in golden goblets,
pour the nectar for these friends of yours & mine.

The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Rome, Continued: Livy AUC XXVII.37

TRIGGER WARNING: During the crisis of Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War (218 - 201 BCE), the birth of an intersex child was seen as a bad omen. This passage gives explicit details of the inhumane treatment of the unfortunate child. The details of this story are odd: did the infant look "four years old" because the parents were successful in protecting their child from public execution for several years? Did the numerous and humiliating punishments inflicted on Roman women afterwards occur in response to a mother disobeying public religious practices to protect her intersex child?

[37] Priusquam consules proficiscerentur nouendiale sacrum fuit quia Ueiis de caelo lapidauerat. sub unius prodigii, ut fit, mentionem alia quoque nuntiata: Minturnis aedem Iouis et lucum Maricae, item Atellae murum et portam de caelo tactam; Minturnenses, terribilius quod esset, adiciebant sanguinis riuum in porta fluxisse; et Capuae lupus nocte portam ingressus uigilem laniauerat. haec procurata hostiis maioribus prodigia et supplicatio diem unum fuit ex decreto pontificum. inde iterum nouendiale instauratum quod in Armilustro lapidibus uisum pluere. liberatas religione mentes turbauit rursus nuntiatum Frusinone natum esse infantem quadrimo parem nec magnitudine tam mirandum quam quod is quoque, ut Sinuessae biennio ante, incertus mas an femina esset natus erat. id uero haruspices ex Etruria acciti foedum ac turpe prodigium dicere: extorrem agro Romano, procul terrae contactu, alto mergendum. uiuum in arcam condidere prouectumque in mare proiecerunt. decreuere item pontifices ut uirgines ter nouenae per urbem euntes carmen canerent. id cum in Iouis Statoris aede discerent conditum ab Liuio poeta carmen, tacta de caelo aedis in Auentino Iunonis reginae; prodigiumque id ad matronas pertinere haruspices cum respondissent donoque diuam placandam esse, aedilium curulium edicto in Capitolium conuocatae quibus in urbe Romana intraque decimum lapidem ab urbe domicilia essent, ipsae inter se quinque et uiginti delegerunt ad quas ex dotibus stipem conferrent; inde donum peluis aurea facta lataque in Auentinum, pureque et caste a matronis sacrificatum. confestim ad aliud sacrificium eidem diuae ab decemuiris edicta dies, cuius ordo talis fuit. ab aede Apollinis boues feminae albae duae porta Carmentali in urbem ductae; post eas duo signa cupressea Iunonis reginae portabantur; tum septem et uiginti uirgines, longam indutae uestem, carmen in Iunonem reginam canentes ibant, illa tempestate forsitan laudabile rudibus ingeniis, nunc abhorrens et inconditum si referatur; uirginum ordinem sequebantur decemuiri coronati laurea praetextatique. a porta Iugario uico in forum uenere; in foro pompa constitit et per manus reste data uirgines sonum uocis pulsu pedum modulantes incesserunt. inde uico Tusco Uelabroque per bouarium forum in cliuum Publicium atque aedem Iunonis reginae perrectum. ibi duae hostiae ab decemuiris immolatae et simulacra cupressea in aedem inlata.

--Livy, Ab Urbe Condita XXVII.37

Before the consuls set out for war, they offered public sacrifices for nine days, since it rained stones in Veii. Once that bad omen occurred, others were soon announced: lightning struck the temple of Jupiter in Minturnae, as well as the sacred grove of Marcia and both the city walls and gate of Atella. At Minturnae, they added another terrifying omen: a river of blood flowed into their city gate. At Capua, a wolf entered the city at night and mauled a guardsman. The consuls expiated these bad omens with more sacrifices, and another public day of prayer was decreed by the head priests. Another nine days of public sacrifices were ordered when it seemed to rain stones in Armilustrum. As soon as the public’s minds were put to ease by the expiation, they were terrified yet again by the announcement that in Frusio, that there was a child [infantem] born the size of a four-year old. But the child’s size wasn’t the miraculous part, but rather the similarity to what had happened in Sinuessa two years prior: the child was indistinguishably male or female (incertus mas an femina). The religious specialists summoned from Etruria declared that the omen was foul and wretched: they declared that the child must be banished from Roman territory, drowned in the sea far from the sight of land. The child was locked in a coffin and thrown into the sea. The priests also decreed that three groups of nine maidens (virgines) should travel throughout the city, singing a hymn composed by the poet Livius. While they were memorizing this hymn in the temple of Jupiter Stator, lightning struck the temple of Juno on the Aventine Hill. The soothsayers said that  this omen was the women’s (matronas) fault, and that Juno should be appeased with a gift. An edict from the curule aediles in the Capitolium decreed that all women who lived within ten miles of Rome should assemble, and that twenty five of them to gather the offering, using money from their dowries. They melted down the gold to create an offering basin, and presented it to the goddess in her temple on the Aventine Hill in a pure and chaste manner by the matrons.
Immediately the decemvirs decreed another day of sacrifice to the same goddess, in the following ceremony: two white cows would be led from the temple of Apollo through the Carmental gate into the city; two cult statues of Juno made of cypress wood would be carried behind them. Then twenty seven young women (virgines), wearing long tunics, would follow singing hymns to Juno. [At the time, these songs were praise-worthy to rustic minds, but now the words are no longer appropriate.] The decemvirs, wearing toga praetexta and crowns, would follow the troop of maidens. They would travel from the Carmental gate along the Street of Yoke Makers into the Forum. The parade would end at the Forum, and the maidens, all holding a rope would sing a song using the rhythm of their stomping feet to keep time. From there they continued through the Tuscan Street and Velabrum Street through the Farmer’s Market onto the Clivus Publicius and then reach the Temple of Juno. Once there, the decemvirs would sacrifice the two cows and the wooden cult statues would be offered to the goddess. 





The Terrible Fate of Intersex Children in Rome: Livy, AUC XXVII.11

TRIGGER WARNING: During the crisis of Hannibal's invasion of Italy in the Second Punic War (218 - 201 BCE), the birth of an intersex child was seen as a bad omen. This is one of two passages from Livy's AUC Book XXVII. The second passage more explicitly describes the tragic fate of the child. 

[11] Prodigia quoque priusquam ab urbe consules proficiscerentur procurari placuit. in Albano monte tacta de caelo erant signum Iouis arborque templo propinqua, et Ostiae lacus, et Capuae murus Fortunaeque aedis, et Sinuessae murus portaque. haec de caelo tacta: cruentam etiam fluxisse aquam Albanam quidam auctores erant, et Romae intus in cella aedis Fortis Fortunae de capite signum quod in corona erat in manum sponte sua prolapsum. et Priuerni satis constabat bouem locutum uolturiumque frequenti foro in tabernam deuolasse, et Sinuessae natum ambiguo inter marem ac feminam sexu infantem, quos androgynos uolgus, ut pleraque, faciliore ad duplicanda uerba Graeco sermone appellat, et lacte pluuisse et cum elephanti capite puerum natum. ea prodigia hostiis maioribus procurata, et supplicatio circa omnia puluinaria, obsecratio in unum diem indicta.

--Livy, Ab Urbe Condita Libri XXVII.11


Before the consuls left the city, they decided to expiate certain omens.   For lightning had hit both the statue of Jupiter and the tree next to his temple on Mt. Alba, as well as the harbor of Ostia, the city walls and Temple of Fortuna in Capua, as well as both the city walls and gate of Sinuessa. Furthermore, some authors stated that the Alban river flowed red with blood, and in the temple of Fors Fortuna in Rome, a figure from the cult statue’s crown fell off of the statue’s head and into the statue’s hand by itself. It was generally agreed that in Privernum a cow spoke, a vulture flew into a shop in a busy forum, and in Sinuessa, a child was born of ambiguous sex (somewhere between a male and a female), which is commonly called “androgynous” (yet another Greek term, for it is easier to make compound words in the Greek language). It also rained milk and a boy was born with an elephant’s head. These bad omens were taken care of with additional sacrifices; a public sacrifice was held for all shrines, as well as a public prayer was held on a special day

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

M/M: The Army of Theban Lovers, Maximus of Tyre, Diss. VIII

Epamonidas amatorio stratagemate Thebas in liberatem a Lacedaemoniis vindicavit. Erant Thebis multi pulchri adolescentuli qui amabantur, multi pulchri iuvenes qui amabant. Utrisque arma in manum Epamonidas dat, et utrisque cohortem instruit amatoriam, quae mirae virtutis planeque inexpugnabilis cum esset, conferto simul agmine facile hostium impetum sustinuit. Qualem neque imperatorum solertissimus Nestor, in Troiano agro, neque in Peloponnesiaco Heraclidae, neque in Attico instruxere Peloponnesii. Necesse enim fuit amatores singulos, vel existimationis suae causa, quod in oculis adolescentulorum pugnarent, vel necessitatis, quod singuli amicissimum defenderent, strenue rem gerere. Vehemens rursus aemulatio adolescentulos pungebat, ut cum amatoribus sibi suis paria facerent: sicut in venatione catuli, qui maiores canes sequuntur. 

--Maximus of Tyre, Dissertations VIII., Translated from the Greek by Claudius Larjot


Epamonidas liberated Thebes from Sparta’s control by weaponizing love. In Thebes there were many teenagers (adolescentuli) who were loved, and many youths (iuvenes) who were loving them.  Epamonidas put weapons in their hands, and created a squadron of lovers who had incredible valor and were undefeatable; whether in battle line or in melee they easily repelled the enemy’s assault, the likes of which have never been seen, not even under the skillful leadership of the Trojan War hero Nestor, nor in the descendants of Heracles in the Peloponnesian campaign,  nor in the Peloponnesian campaign against Athens.
For each man had to prove themselves to their lover, either to fight well in their beloved’s eyes, or out of necessity, since each man had to defend his own sweetheart (amicissimum). And in turn, a rivalry spurred on their bravery, so they could perform equally as well as their lover, just as the puppies of hunting dogs follow the bigger dogs in the pack.