Friday, June 16, 2023

Aeneas Says Trans Rights: Chloreus, Vergil, Aen.11.768-789

Galli were worshippers of the goddess Cybele who renounced their masculinity by voluntarily undergoing castration. They lived as women, and held a separate legal status from men in ancient Rome. In the Aeneid, one of Aeneas' warriors is a gallus named Chloreus, whom the Amazon warrior Camilla intends to fight. The author Vergil uses this scene to play with gender roles in the epic genre, but it is uncomfortably easy to note the author's use of stereotyping here (particularly the fixation on the warrior's clothing instead of their valor).


It happened that Chloreus,

a sacred retired priest of Cybele,

Was sparkling conspicuously in Phrygian armor

As they rode their horse onward. Their horse

Was covered in gilded bronze adornments

The way feathers adorn a bird.

Chloreus was equally conspicuous

Wearing bright purple armor

Shooting Gortynian arrows from a Lycian bow.

There was a golden ceremonial bow on their shoulders

And they wore a priest’s helmet, also golden;

They tied their purple cloak with a golden tie;

They even wore pants—how barbaric!—embroidered with a needle.

Camilla spotted them from far away,

And wanted to seize the Trojan armor

Either to dedicate it as an offering in a temple

Or perhaps she wanted to wear the golden outfit herself.

The Amazon hunter blindly targeted Chloreus   

For single combat, and,

While she burned with a womanly love of treasure

And was caught off guard,

Arruns used the advantage to brandish his weapon deceitfully…

--Vergil, Aeneid 11.768-789

Forte sacer Cybelo Chloreus olimque sacerdos
insignis longe Phrygiis fulgebat in armis
spumantemque agitabat equum, quem pellis aenis              
in plumam squamis auro conserta tegebat.
ipse peregrina ferrugine clarus et ostro
spicula torquebat Lycio Gortynia cornu;
aureus ex umeris erat arcus et aurea vati
cassida; tum croceam chlamydemque sinusque crepantis   
carbaseos fulvo in nodum collegerat auro
pictus acu tunicas et barbara tegmina crurum.
hunc virgo, sive ut templis praefigeret arma
Troia, captivo sive ut se ferret in auro
venatrix, unum ex omni certamine pugnae              
caeca sequebatur totumque incauta per agmen
femineo praedae et spoliorum ardebat amore,
telum ex insidiis cum tandem tempore capto



Name:  Publius Vergilius Maro

Date:  70 BCE – 21 BCE

Works:  Aeneid*





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



Vergil was born in Mantua (Cisalpine Gaul, located in northern Italy) and lived during the tumultuous transition of Roman government from republic to monarchy. His masterpiece, the Aeneid, tells the story of Aeneas’ migration from Troy to Italy; it was used for centuries as the pinnacle of Roman literature.


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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