Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Challenging Gender Norms: Quintus Hortensius, Aulus Gellius Attic Nights I.v.2-3

 Trigger Warning: intentional misgendering of a person; slander

Q. Hortensius omnibus ferme oratoribus aetatis suae, nisi M. Tullio, clarior, quod multa munditia et circumspecte compositeque indutus et amictus esset manusque eius inter agendum forent argutae admodum et gestuosae, maledictis compellationibusque probris iactatus est, multaque in eum, quasi in histrionem, in ipsis causis atque iudiciis dicta sunt. 3 Sed cum L. Torquatus, subagresti homo ingenio et infestivo, gravius acerbiusque apud consilium iudicum, cum de causa Sullae quaereretur, non iam histrionem eum esse diceret, sed gesticulariam Dionysiamque eum notissimae saltatriculae nomine appellaret, tum voce molli atque demissa Hortensius "Dionysia," inquit "Dionysia malo equidem esse quam quod tu, Torquate, amousos, anaphroditos, aprosdionysos".

--Aulus Gellius, Noct. Att. I.v.1-3

Quintus Hortensius was more famous than nearly all of the politicians of his time period (with the exception of Cicero). Because he wore lavish outfits, with his outfits meticulously arranged, and because he used over-the-top hand gestures, he was slandered with curses and accusations of impropriety; a lot of people said that he performed like an actor even when he was in the courthouse and at trial.  There was one time when L. Torquatus, a boorish and inelegant man, was working on Sulla’s case, where he commented rather bitterly about Hortensius in court, not only saying that he was an actor, but also called him the name of an actress (the famous mime actress Dionysia).  Hortensius responded with a soft and condescending tone, “Dionysia? I would rather be Dionysia [loved by Dionysus] than you, Torquatus, who is unloved by the Muses, Aphrodite, or Dionysus.”



Name:  Aulus Gellius

Date:  2nd. c. CE

Works:  Attic Nights



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



 Aulus Gellius lived during the 2nd century CE. His work, the Attic Nights, are a collection of anecdotes about literature, history, and grammar.  From internal evidence, we can deduce that he was in the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ social circle, having close friendships with Herodes Atticus and Fronto.



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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