Classically Inclined

August 7, 2012

The sex lives of Homeric heroines

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 9:31 am
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The subject of this post is an offshoot from the paper I gave at Feminism and Classics VI. Some of you may remember the translation of poem 68 in the Priapea that I posted just before I left for the conference. This poem really jumped out at me for a number of reasons, but the main one was that the last few lines dedicate a lot of space to praising Penelope, the heroine of the Odyssey, best known for her fidelity to her absent husband – and also express Priapus’ conviction that he would have been able to “please” her if he had existed when she was around.

This passage highlights a bit of a trend I’ve been noticing in Latin poetry of the Augustan period and later, which is a mild obsession with the sex lives of Homeric heroines. When I was teaching the Ars Amatoria last term, I found some of the imagery very striking, particularly in book three, where the praeceptor/teacher-narrator of the poem addresses his female readers. The final section of the book explicitly addresses sexual positions, and advises that each woman should pick the position which shows off her best physical attributes. In describing the woman-on-top position, the praeceptor says that women who are tall should not attempt it; as a supporting proof, he comments that Andromache was so tall that she never sat astride her ‘horse’.


May 18, 2012

Some Selected Penis Poetry

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 9:31 am
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As those who follow me on Twitter know, my recent research project has involved translating some poems from the Priapea for the paper I’m giving at Feminism and Classics VI. As I’ve had to write these translations for my handout, I thought I’d post some examples here for those of you who are interested.

A note of caution – the language used in the translations below the cut is most definitely not safe for work, and I should probably advise that it might be a little strong for those under the age of 18. This is because the Latin itself is not safe for work, and I’m not going to go about adding more bowdlerisation to the world.  Especially with poems in praise of the willy, as it would rather miss the point. As it were.

If you’re interested in looking at the Latin, an on-line text can be found here.


September 19, 2011

The eroticization of knowledge in the Priapea – a preview

Filed under: Research — lizgloyn @ 4:10 am
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I seem to be having a good run with abstracts at the moment – first I was accepted for the Animating Antiquity conference (for which, incidentally, booking is now open), and now I’ve heard that I’ve had my paper accepted for Feminism and Classics VI in May! This is brilliant news for two reasons. First, it means I get to go back to North America and check in with some of my friends and colleagues from my six years in the US – you know, reassure them I haven’t grown an extra head, that sort of thing. Second, it finally gives me a chance to road-test an idea I’ve been sitting on since 2007 and that I’ve wanted the opportunity to come back to.

Every year, the Rutgers classics department participates in something called Latinfest, or the Latin Day Colloquium if you want to be more formal about it, along with Columbia, NYU, Penn and Princeton. The idea is to take a relatively unfamiliar Latin text which hasn’t had a great deal of scholarship done on it, and to put it at the centre of a day’s conference/seminar/discussion. Each of the five schools takes a section of the text, and graduates from each school give a short presentation on various relevant topics before opening up to more general discussion on each segment. It’s a great way of presenting in a friendly atmosphere and exploring an unfamiliar text, and I’m actually quite keen to import it to the UK. (I think one of Penn’s graduates has already taken the idea successfully to Germany, so there is precedent.) (more…)

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