Sunday, October 20, 2019

W/W: Philaenis' [Girl]friend: Martial, Epig. VII.70

 According to Greek lore, Philaenis was a woman author who wrote a treatise on erotic arts. Because of this, the name Philaenis was used for a stock character of a woman who exceeded Greco-Roman gender roles. Whether she showed excessive lust, same-sex desire, or had children out of wedlock, the name Philaenis was used as an umbrella-term to cover these "unladylike" behaviors.

Ipsarum tribadum tribas, Philaeni, 

recte, quam [viseris], vocas "amicam."

--Martial, Epig. VII.70

Philaenis, everyone's favorite lesbian,
you call the girls you date your [girl]friend--and rightly so!

[Martial is using a double entendre here, as amica can mean female friend or "friend with benefits."]

Disclaimer: this text has been modified to fit the scope of this blog. The main verb of the relative clause has been changed into a less severe alternative. Considering the scarcity of women's perspectives in Latin literature, I felt it was important to include this passage despite the language it uses.

Name: Marcus Valerius Martialis
Date:  40 CE – 104 CE
Works:  Epigrammaton Libri XV*
               De Spectaculis

REGION  2 (Hispania)
Region 1: Peninsular Italy; Region 2: Western Europe; Region 3: Western Coast of Africa; Region 4: Egypt and Eastern Mediterranean; Region 5: Greece and the Balkans

Originally from Bilbilis, Hispania, the poet Martial moved to Rome in the 60s CE to advance his career. His two extant works include de Spectaculis, a collection of poems written to commemorate the opening of the Colosseum, and a fifteen volume collection of epigrams. These epigrams provide valuable insight into the mores and private lives of men and women from all of the city’s social classes.     
Early Roman Lit: through 2nd c BCE: Republican Rome: through 1st c. BCE; Golden Age: 70 BCE to 18 CE; Silver Age: 18 CE to 150 CE; Age of Conflict: 150 CE - 410 CE; Byzantine and Late Latin: after 410 CE