AMBIGUUS SEXUS: EPIC MASCULINITY IN TRANSITION IN STATIUS’ ACHILLEID
Statius’ incomplete Latin epic, the Achilleid, tells the story of the young Achilles’ sojourn on Scyros dressed as a girl, before he goes to Troy. The poem was discounted until recently as a curiosity in the Roman epic tradition, a genre which was theorised to be essentially about martial masculinity (Horace AP 73), despite the fact that women and sexual love feature prominently in actual epics. This paper argues that the Achilleid’s complex post-Ovidian representation of gender also bears implications for our understanding of Roman epic as a genre. As Achilles struggles towards his literary destiny as the ultimate Homeric warrior, the poem’s allusive exploration of gender ultimately reorients the tense relationship of the epic hero to women and amor, and of the epic genre to its own institutionalised masculinity.
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