Wednesday, June 30, 2021

From Bride to Groom: Tales from Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. VII.iv.36

 Trigger Warning: child exposure

Ex feminis mutari in mares non est fabulosum. Inveniemus in annalibus P. Licinio Crasso C. Cassio Longino coss. Casini puerum factum ex virgine sub parentibus, iussuque harispicium deportatum in insulam desertam. Licinius Mucianus prodidit visum a se Argis Arescontem, cui nomen Arescusae fuisset, nupsisse etiam, mox barbaram et virilitatem provenisse uxoremque duxisse; eiusdem sortis et Zmyrnae puerum a se visum. Ipse in Africa vidi mutatum in marem nuptiarum die L. Constitium civem Thysdriatanum...

--Pliny the Elder, Hist. Nat. VII.iv.36

It’s not impossible for women to turn into men. For I’ve found in historical records that in 171 BCE [the year that P. Licinius Crassus and C. Cassius Longinus were consuls], a girl turned into a boy while still living at home,* and was abandoned on a deserted island due to religious observances. Licinius Mucianus reports that he saw in Argos a man named Arescon, who used to be Arescusa: she was already living as someone’s wife, but when he grew a beard and underwent manly puberty, he married a wife of his own. He also saw the same thing happen to a boy in Smyrna. When I was in Africa, I saw with my own eyes someone who transformed on their wedding day, when they should have married L. Constitius (a citizen of Thysdrus).

* before eligible for marriage, an indication of the child's age



Name:  Gaius Plinius Secundus

Date:  23 – 79 CE

Works:  Naturalis Historia*



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



 Pliny was an Italian-born Roman statesman and author who lived during the reigns of the early Roman emperors. He spent most of his life in service of his country; he ultimately gave his life in arranging the evacuation of the regions devastated by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 CE. His work, the Natural History, is a 37-volume collection of art, history, and science of the ancient world.


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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