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Altering Attis: Ethnicity, Gender and Genre in Catullus 63

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image of Mnemosyne

Catullus 63 is one of the most unusual of Latin poems, and also one of the most difficult for literary interpreters. In this paper I would like to discuss it from three angles, connected by the common factor of change or alteration: ethnicity, the poem's alteration of Attis' previous ethnic identity to make him Greek and to stress the contrast with the poem's Asiatic setting; gender, its transsexual use of previous female literary characters as models for Attis' two speeches;2) and genre, the literary form of the poem and its alteration and mixture of various types of generic antecedent.


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