Sunday, January 26, 2020

Challenging Gender Roles: Maecenas, Velleius Paterculus Hist. II.88.2

Erat tunc urbis custodiis praepositus C. Maecenas equestri, sed splendido genere natus, vir, ubi res vigiliam exigeret, sane ex omnis, providens atque agendi sciens, simul vero aliquid ex negotio remitti posset, otio ac mollitiis paene ultra, feminam fluens, non minus Agrippa Caesari carus, sed minus honoratus (quippe vixit angusti clavi plene contentus), nec minora consequi potuit, sed non tam concupivit. 

--Velleius Paterulus, Historiae Romanae, II.88.2-3

At that time, C. Maecenas was in charge of the city's guards. Maecenas was a member of the Equestrian order, but was nevertheless born of an illustrious background. In times of crisis, he was very dilligent, almost prescient in perceiving what needed to be done.  However, he was just as extreme once work was done, being over-the-top in reveling in effeminate pleasure, even more so; he was practically dripping with femininity. He was no less dear to Augustus Caesar than Agrippa, despite being bestowed with less honors, since he was content to remain in his social class. He could have achieved the same level of political influence as Agrippa if he had wanted to, but he had no desire to do so.

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