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Still before sexuality: "Greek" androgyny, the roman imperial politics of masculinity and the roman invention of the Tribas

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Chapter Summary

This chapter proposes that the tribas was a Roman ideological invention, an imperial stereotype of androgynous Greek gender-monsters enervating the empire, which Roman viri deployed rhetorically to control their most powerful inferiors, Roman matrons and Greeks. It emphasizes that Roman gender ideology assumed the existence of the hermaphrodite or androgyne, a body-form or gender identified by h/is possession of masculine and feminine physical traits, h/is transformation from one gender to the other or h/is body flux between masculine and feminine forms. Elite Romans, who treated intercourse as a sociopolitical act of penetration or submission that helped to define a subject’s gender, also typically assumed that gender-deviant sex acts could transform one into an androgyne. Finally, Roman imperial gender ideology portrayed androgyny as a foreign gender monstrosity that evidenced disease in the Roman body and portended social upheaval and interethnic war.

Keywords: Greek androgyny; Greek tribas; masculine physical traits; matronly chastity; Roman empire; Roman ideological invention; Roman imperial politics; Roman matrons; sexual gender deviance

10.1163/ej.9789004154476.i-582.12
/content/books/10.1163/ej.9789004154476.i-582.12
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