Sunday, May 2, 2021

Intersex and Famous: Favorinus (Philostratus, VS 1.8.1-2)

Pariter et Favorinum philosophum eloquentia in sophistis clarum fecit. Erat enim ex Hesperiis Galatis ille, Arelate urbe, quae ad Rhodanum fluvium condita est. Natus est autem sexu ambiguo et androgynus, id quod et specie et voce apparebat; imberbis enim facie etiam senex erat et vox acute et acriter cum intentione sonabat, quales eunuchos solet formare natura. Tanta nihilo minus ardebat venerea cupidine, ut vel adulterii reus a viro consulari fieret. Ex controversia autem, quae ei cum imperatore Hadriano orta est, nihil cepit incommodi quare haec tria vitam suam admiranda habuisse dictabat, quod Gallus graece loquutus esset, quod eunuchus reus factus esset adulterii, quod cum imperatore contendens salvus evasisset. (2) Hoc autem Hadriano potius laudi fuerit habendum, quod imperator qui fuit tanquam aequalis cum eo concertarit, quem interficere licebat.

ὁμοίως καὶ Φαβωρῖνον τὸν φιλόσοφον ἡ εὐγλωττία ἐν σοφισταῖς ἐκήρυττεν. ἦν μὲν γὰρ τῶν ἑσπερίων Γαλατῶν οὗτος, Ἀρελάτου πόλεως, ἣ ἐπὶ Ἠριδανῷ ποταμῷ ᾤκισται, διφυὴς δὲ ἐτέχθη καὶ ἀνδρόθηλυς, καὶ τοῦτο ἐδηλοῦτο μὲν καὶ παρὰ τοῦ εἴδους, ἀγενείως γὰρ τοῦ προσώπου καὶ γηράσκων εἶχεν, ἐδηλοῦτο δὲ καὶ τῷ φθέγματι, ὀξυηχὲς γὰρ ἠκούετο καὶ λεπτὸν καὶ ἐπίτονον, ὥσπερ ἡ φύσις τοὺς εὐνούχους ἥρμοκεν. θερμὸς δὲ οὕτω τις ἦν τὰ ἐρωτικά, ὡς καὶ μοιχοῦ λαβεῖν αἰτίαν ἐξ ἀνδρὸς [p. 9] ὑπάτου.

διαφορᾶς δὲ αὐτῷ πρὸς Ἀδριανὸν βασιλέα γενομένης οὐδὲν ἔπαθεν. ὅθεν ὡς παράδοξα ἐπεχρησμῴδει τῷ ἑαυτοῦ βίῳ τρία ταῦτα: Γαλάτης ὢν ἑλληνίζειν, εὐνοῦχος ὢν μοιχείας κρίνεσθαι, βασιλεῖ διαφέρεσθαι καὶ ζῆν. τουτὶ δὲ Ἀδριανοῦ ἔπαινος εἴη ἂν μᾶλλον, εἰ βασιλεὺς ὢν ἀπὸ τοῦ ἴσου διεφέρετο πρὸς ὃν ἐξῆν ἀποκτεῖναι.

--Philostratus, Vitae Sophistarum I.8.1-2; translated into Latin by Antonius Westermann (1850)

Similarly, eloquence also made the philosopher Favorinus famous among the sophists. He was from the city of Arelate, which is situated on the Rhone river in western Gaul. He was born of ambiguous sex, and intersex, which was clear from his body type and his voice; he remained beardless even as an old man, and his voice was high-pitched, the same voice that eunuchs have. This didn’t stop him romantically, though; he was charged with adultery by a man of consular rank. He got into an argument with the emperor Hadrian, but didn’t suffer (lethal) consequences for it. And so, his life was one of three mysteries: he was a Gaul who spoke Greek; he was a eunuch charged with adultery; and he got into a fight with an emperor without dying. [This is more a praise of Hadrian’s virtue, since the emperor could have arguments with others, yet treat them as equals, even though he could put them to death for disagreeing with him.]



Name:  Lucius Flavius Philostratus

Date:  170 – 250 CE

Works: Lives of the Sophists



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



 Philostratus was a Greek scholar who lived during the late 2nd and early 3rd century CE. He was a member of the imperial Roman social circle; one of his works, the Life of Apollonius of Tyana, he dedicates to the Roman empress Julia Domna.

 Age of Conflict

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

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