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The boy as metaphor the hermeneutics of homoerotic desire in Tibullus 1.9.

This paper examines Tibullus 1.9, the closing poem of the Marathus cycle, in an attempt to depart from traditional interpretations of the elegiac puer as a real-life male beloved and establish the 'boy' as a distinct gender category in the genre, analogous to 'man' and 'woman.' The paper builds on Nikoloutsos 2007, which discussed Tibullus 1.4, the opening poem of the cycle. Challenging the autobiographical mode in which Tibullus's homoerotic poetry has commonly been analyzed, in that article I showed that the erotic discourse of 1.4 forges such a strong link between the theme of boy-love and the collection's central concerns (namely, elegiac composition, gender roles, economics, and the state) that any attempt to look into the poem for reliable information about same-sex practices in Roman antiquity is doomed to fail. Furthermore, I argued that in 1.4 Tibullus introduces a new strand in the collection, parallel to that about Delia and unique in the corpus of Augustan elegy. In this poetic strand, the puer is cast, like the puella in the heterosexual cycle, as a literary construct, a fictitious character with strong intertextual connections that serves as a vehicle through which the poet expresses his artistic and socio-moral ideology. Unlike a typical puer delicatus who is expected to be submissive, the puer that the god Priapus recommends in his erotodidactic speech in Tibullus 1.4 is demanding. He crosses gender and social boundaries and so defies binary categories, such as active/passive or elite/non-elite. As such, he highlights the precarious position of a man, such as the poet but also the reader/listener, in hierarchical spheres. Given the power asymmetries in both the private and the public domain, a man, as I argued, often can (or is forced to) play the role of the 'boy' (2007, 79).

This paper applies this theoretical model to poem 1.9; its aim is to contextualize further Tibullus's choice of the theme of pederasty and thus restore a neglected group of poems to visibility in contemporary scholarship on gender and sexuality in classical antiquity. I shall argue that far from being a flesh-and-blood boy, as he has traditionally been understood, (1) Marathus is a scriptus puer modeled in accordance with the aesthetic principles of Latin elegy and the pressing social, moral, and political issues of a rather liminal period in Roman history. Published in late 27 or early 26 B.C.E., (2) Tibullus's book 1 was the product of a period during which Rome changed, after a series of civil wars, from Republic into an Empire under Augustus. Fashioned discursively, Marathus operates as a medium through which Tibullus achieves self-expression and communicates to his reader his goals and ambitions as a practitioner of elegy, as well as his concerns and anxieties as a male and citizen in post-civil war Rome.

Although the subordination of the beloved to the protocols of writing elegy is an issue already explored in connection with the puella by Maria Wyke (2002, 1-191) and other critics, (3) a separate study of the elegiac puer and his semiotic role in the genre is necessary for two reasons. First, it can shed more light upon elegy's engagement with the big ideological debates of its time. Second, it can help build intellectual bridges between feminist and queer classical scholarship. A dialogue between these two strands of scholarship, as this paper proposes, can enrich and at the same time complicate the theorization of the interconnection between power, sex gender, class, economics, and poetic practice in late Republican and early Augustan Rome.

Triangulating the Pederastic Affair

I begin my analysis by focusing on the way the relation between amator and puer is portrayed in Tibullus 1.9. My goal in choosing to do so is to show that homoerotic desire is in intimate relation with power, a finding that can effect a smoother transition to the examination of the dynamics and asymmetries of amor puerilis as a poetic practice in the section 2 below.

Tibullus 1.9 opens with the narrator's self-representation in the role of a betrayed amator who accuses Marathus4 of violating his promise to remain faithful by yielding in secret to the lure of gifts. As in most elegies in book 1, here too Tibullus establishes a situation in the opening lines of the poem, which he elaborates for a while, but does not disclose all the information we need to understand the plot right away (Cairns 1979, 144-65). To construct full meaning, we must read the poem in its entirety, for it is towards the end (lines 53-78) where the narrator reveals that these gifts were the bait that an old man used to seduce the boy and sleep with him. The betrayed amator responds to this infidelity with a curse directed against both his puer and the gifts of the rival:
  Quid mihi, si fueras miseros laesurus amores,
  foedera per divos, clam violanda, dabas?
  a miser, et si quis primo periuria celat,
  sera tamen tacitis Poena venit pedibus.
  parcite, caelestes: aequum est impune Iicere
  numina formosis laedere vestra semel.
  lucra petens habili tauros adiungit aratro
  et durum terrae rusticus urget opus;
  lucra petituras freta per parentia ventis
  ducunt instabiles sidera certa rates.
  muneribus meus est captus puer. at deus ilia
  in cinerem et liquidas munera vertat aquas.
  iam mihi persolvet poenas, pulvisque decorem
  detrahet et ventis horrida facta coma;
  uretur fades, urentur sole capilli,
  deteret invalidos et via longa pedes. (1.9.1-16)

  Why, if you had planned to harm my unhappy love, did you make pacts
  before the gods to be broken in secret? Oh you miserable, even if
  someone hides perjury at first, yet Punishment comes late on silent
  feet. Spare him, gods of heavens! It is fair for the beautiful to be
  allowed to offend your power once without punishment. Seeking profit
  the countryman yokes the bulls to his handy plough and plies his hard
  work on the land. Through the straits that yield to the winds the sure
  stars guide the unsteady ships which will be looking for profit. By
  gifts has my boy been captured. But may the god turn those gifts to
  ashes and running water. Soon he will pay the penalty in full for me,
  and his beauty will be dragged down by the dust, and his hair will be
  made horrible by the wind. His face will be burnt, his locks will be
  burnt by the sun, and a long travel will wear out his feet so that
  they will be weak. (5)


Tibullus 1.9 creates an agonistic environment between the narrator and the new lover of Marathus. Although the triangulation of the affair is a basic precondition for erotic curses (Faraone 1991, 13), there is a major difference between the goal of the curse in lines 11-6 and that of a katadesmos or defixio (binding spell). As Christopher Faraone (1991, 4) argues, binding spells "were not employed as after-the-fact measures of vengeful spite bur rather as effective "preemptive strikes" against a for midable foe in anticipation of a possible or even probable future defeat." In Tibullus 1.9, this defeat has already occurred. Marathus has had sex with the old man: hide tamen accubuit nester puer (Yet my boy slept with him, 75). The narrator's aim in cursing his puer, therefore, is not to prevent any erotic attraction or sexual action between Marathus and the rival in the future. Instead, his aim is to extinguish his anger, albeit temporarily, with a curse that allows him to reassign the roles of agent and victim and thus restore his wounded ego. The narrator ensnares Marathus in a cruel imagery and visualizes him as a hideous spectacle, a puer who will lose his physical beauty and bear marks of deformity all over his body--literally from head to toe--so that he will no longer be desirable. By losing his ability to attract and victimize, Marathus will also lose his autonomy.

Lines 11-6 are carefully constructed and reproduce motifs we find in incantations in Greco-Roman antiquity, thereby discouraging a reading of them as the poet's own reaction to the infidelity of a real-life beloved. For example, a common incantatory practice is that the spell-caster summons a divine power to undertake action. In most cases, the invocation is to a specifically named god or goddess with well-attested chthonic powers. However, for the sake of creating an atmosphere of fear and mystery, as is the case here (dues ... vertat, 11-2), sometimes the invoked deity remains anonymous (Luck 1985, 23; Graf 1991; Ogden 1999, 44-6). The anaphora uretur ... urentur (15) and the employment of the synonymous coma and capilli in last position in lines 14 and 15 respectively are also incantatory motifs and reflect the belief that the repetition of words, or even whole phrases, helps to increase the efficacy of the spell.

The use of third-person future (persolvet, 13; detrahet, 14; uretur, urentur, 15; deteret, 16) strikes as odd when compared to the first-person present (I bind so-and-so) or the second-person imperative ([you, deity/ daemon,] bind so-and-so) we normally find on curse tablets. This peculiarity may stem from a tradition of incantations in metrical form from the Hellenistic period, which make use of what Faraone has termed "performative" future, a use of the future tense that he traces back to the performance-oriented milieu of Pindar and other early Greek poets. This type of future suggests a magical activity (spell, ritual, or ceremony) that is performed during the recitation of verses and "effects some action simply by its utterance" (Faraone 1995, 3). The possibility that Tibullus draws on this tradition is suggested by the use of deictic language in the passage, as is the case with the texts that Faraone examines: a temporal adverb (iam, 13), a personal pronoun (mihi, 13), and a demonstrative pronoun (ilia, 11). (6) The use of such language adds vividness during the oral performance of the elegy and denotes an attempt by the poet-curser to achieve a favorable outcome. (7)

The projection of the deceived lover's dismembering desire onto the body of his deceiving puer is also an incantatory practice. The description of Marathus as a collection of fragments (face, hair, and feet) finds parallels on many curse tablets where parts of the victim's body are singled out and listed alongside his or her name as more specific targets (Faraone 1991, 5). This, however, is not the only reason why the speaker focuses on these particular body parts. Given the excessive care with which Marathus dresses his hair and adorns his face in order to attract a girl named Pholoe in Tibullus 1.8.9-11, the poet-lover here curses, and thus aspires to disable, the most erotically operative parts of the boy's body. A puer with sunburned face and hair that is messed up and roughened by the wind and bleached by the sun serves as an object of scorn rather than as an object of desire. An ugly boy like this--a boy imagined like an old hag--will no longer be pursued by men. Marathus's envisaged ugliness thus will stigmatize and marginalize him.

In the betrayed lover's imagination, the face of his venal puer becomes a visible extension of his bad character. The speaker, as we are invited to imagine, receives some pleasure--as a counterbalance to his anger--in the illusionary thought that his curse may result in the termination of Marathus's erotic career as a puer delicatus. The realization of the curse has an additional repercussion. By losing his physical beauty, Marathus will be deprived of financial resources, as he will no longer be offered precious gifts and money by potential lovers.

In line 16, Marathus is implicated in an imagery that aims to restore the narrator's lost pride. In 1.9.30, the speaker admits having fallen prostrate at Marathus's tender feet and having wept before him in an attempt to convince the boy not to succumb to money. Here he turns the tables on Marathus and visualizes the incapacitation of those feet as the result of a long but otherwise unspecified journey (via longa) on which the puer will go. (8) By having difficulties performing one of the basic human activities, Marathus will be the perfect match for his canus amator who suffers from gout to such an extent that his limbs are a repulsive spectacle (1.9.73-4). Walking must cause a gouty man like this to feel intense pain, which Marathus will also experience after covering the long distance on foot. The closing line of the curse thus suggests an attempt by the speaker to channel his emotional pain into physical pain for Marathus. The speaker alleviates his ira by envisioning a boy who, at the end of this long journey, is exhausted, weak, immobile, and thus dependent.

The via longa provides the context within which the burning of Marathus's face, visualized by the narrator in line 15, will occur. By being exposed to the sun during this long journey, Marathus will lose his white complexion, a physical quality that lovers find very appealing in pueri delicati, as the god Priapus admits in his erotodidactic speech in Tibullus 1.4.12. This, however, may not be the only meaning of uretur fades. Marathus's red face may also be understood as a sign of fever or inner heat that is meant to reflect the narrator's own psychological state. (9)

In the opening couplet of the poem, the narrator defines the relationship with his puer as a strong, emotional bond, not as a meaningless sexual encounter between master and slave, as it would (or should) have been the case in ancient Rome. Not only does he admit his feelings for Marathus (amores, 1), inviting us to imagine the amount of pain he is now experiencing on account of the boy's infidelity He also recalls the promises that Marathus made to be faithful and calls them foedcra (pacts, 2), a term that was normally used in connection with formal agreements between states or private individuals, as well as with marriage contracts. (10) The appropriation of this term from the legal and political sphere highlights the solemnity of the affair and elevates it to something more than just a source of physical pleasure, as opposed to Marathus's relationship with his canus amator, which is based exclusively on sex (75-8). In line 2, the narrator also recalls that, as at a wedding, the pledging of loyalty was witnessed by the gods. This detail emphasizes the inviolability of the bond and casts the boy's deceit not only as perjury (as the poet calls it in line 3) but also as an impious act.

While Marathus did not hesitate to break promises he made before the gods, the poet-lover admits that he allowed himself to be seduced by the boy and fall so deeply in love with him that he even carried the lantern during Marathus's secret meetings with a girl late at night (39-44). Without suspecting that he was being used and that amor was onesided, he chose to externalize his uncontrollable passion for Marathus by writing poetry: quin etiam attonita laudes tibi mente canebam (Nay, I even used to sing praises for you in my frenzy of mind, 47). Now that he is deserted, amor is not an inspiration for writing, but a destructive force that eats up his soul. It is no longer the internal flame or delirium that made him be creative, but a mental torment or inner burning comparable to fever. (11) As John Winkler (1990, 83) has put it, unreciprocated love becomes a "sort of constraint or external pressure that may make life simply unlivable." The amator turns out to be a slave to his feelings while the puert who produces but takes advantage of these feelings, becomes the master in the game of love. To walk out of this state of voluntary imprisonment and extinguish his blazing passion, the amator is in need of some drastic therapy. Since the only effective drug, i.e., the puer himself, is possessed by another man, he directs his rage into a curse that enables him to reverse the roles of agent and victim. Thus in lines 14-5, the unfaithful puer Marathus is entrapped in an imagery in which he is forced to experience symptoms analogous to those of the poet-curser and bear physical characteristics, such as a red face, which is typical of an ill person. (12)

Not only does the betrayed amator attempt to reverse the power dynamics in his relationship with Marathus by projecting his fury onto the tender body of the boy through a curse. He also reduces him from a respectable object of desire--a boy to whom he only wanted to give kisses and caresses (1.9.77-8)--to a body that is worth suffering, like that of a slave. The violence of the curse hurled against Marathus serves, I suggest, as a substitute for unaccomplished sexual intercourse between lover and male beloved, sexual intercourse that the boy had with the rival. This attempt of the speaker to reduce his venal puer to vulnerable, penetrable flesh is also suggested by the analogies of the farmer and the merchant with which he illustrates the susceptibility of human nature to profit (1.9.7-10). The plowing of the field and the cleaving of the sea by the ship are both invasive processes used in classical literature as metaphors for "opening up" and "splitting" the female body (Adams 1982, 25, 89, 167; duBois 1988, 39-85). Since a field is tilled by the one who owns it and a ship is guided not by the stars, as it is poetically described in lines 9-10, but by her master, these two examples show how important the idea of exclusivity is deemed to be by the poet-lover. As the speaker emphatically notes in line 11, Marathus is his own boy (meus ... puer).13

The Traffic in Boys

The fragmentation of the body of the venal puer into parts in Tibullus 1.9.13-6 recalls the speaker's itemizing mode in 1.8.9-16 where Marathus, still an object of desire, resorts to the art of cosmetics to charm a girl named Pholoe. Emphasis is there placed upon the boy's physical details, including his hair and feet:
  quid tibi nunc rnolles prodest coluisse capillos
  saepeque mutatas disposuisse comas,
  quid fuco splendente genas ornare, quid ungues
  artificis docta subsecuisse manu?
  frustra iam vestes, frustra mutantur amictus
  ansaque compressos colligat arta pedes,
  ilia placet, quamvis inculto venerit ore
  nee nitidum tarda compserit arte caput. (1, 8, 9-16)

  What do you now gain from dressing your soft locks and from arranging
  your hair frequently in different ways, what from beautifying your
  cheeks with glittering red dye, what from having your nails pared by
  the skilled hand of an artist? In vain now your clothes, in vain your
  cloaks are changed, and in vain the tight loop squeezes your feet
  together. That one pleases, although she has come with unadorned face
  and she has dressed her shiny head without time-consuming artifice.


In the lines above, Marathus is not only described as a puer obsessed with his external appearance; he is also depicted as an embodiment of the stylistic attributes of the elegiac genre. As it was customary for pueri delicati in Roman antiquity (Pollini 1999, 31-6), he wears his hair long. An adolescent boy with long hair resembles the patron god of poetry, Apollo, especially the kitharaoidos Apollo, or other ephebic gods, such as Bacchus and Eros, who epitomize the ideal of androgynous beauty. (14) Marathus's locks are described as mollis (soft). On the level of erotics, this adjective--also used to designate an effeminate man (Edwards 1993, 63-97; C. A. Williams 1999, 125-32; Skinner 2005, 211-3)--denotes a physical quality that was very appropriate for a puer delicatus and served to enhance his desirability On the level of poetics, it recalls the aesthetic principle of leptotes (slenderness), the delicacy, that is, in versification that Callimachus advocated in the prologue of his Aetia (frr. 11-2) and Roman elegists embraced in their work. Mollis is a standard critical term in Latin elegy and emblematizes the genre's discursive alignment with the feminine, as opposed to durus (hard), which is a shorthand for epic poetry and the masculine values it promotes. (15)

The preoccupation of Marathus with his coiffure can also be read metapoetically Parallels from Latin elegy reveal a connection between the look of the hair of the puella and the poet's concern about stylistic refinement as an attribute of his work. For example, in the opening poem of book 1 of his Amores Ovid complains that he cannot write elegy because, as he claims in a playful manner, nee mihi materia est numeris levioribus apta, I ant puer aut longas compta puella comas (I do not have material suitable for lighter meters, neither boy nor girl with long, combed hair, 1.1.19-20). As a desirable quality of the puella, compta implicates her in the Callimachean rhetoric of elegance and perfection of form, emphasizing at the same time her status as an object of art since hair neatness and symmetry are characteristics of statues (Keith 1994, 28; Greene 1998, 72). In 1.3.23, Propertius admits the pleasure he received by arranging Cynthia's disarrayed hair one night when he came back home drunk and she was sleeping (et modo gaudebam lapses jormare capil-los). As Kathleen McNamee (1993, 224-5) has suggested, this account allegorizes the efforts of the poet to "interweave different strands of meaning in a well-composed unity."16

Likewise, Marathus's arrangement of his hair in different modes and the boy's presumed frustration in trying to achieve an aesthetically pleasing result can be read allegorically, as projections, that is, of Tibul-lus's own pains to produce elegant poetry. (17) The cultus puer becomes a mirror image of the cultus poeta who is torn by his longing for perfection. (18) Within this metaphorical system, the adornment of the puer before the mirror serves the purpose of both alluring the dura puella Pholoe and of transcending the poet's longing through elegiac composition. Poetic art and the art of cosmetics overlap. As Victoria Rimell (2006, 52) notes about the metapoetic implications of female beautifica-tion in Ovid's Medicamina, "Writing a poem and creating a look are analogous, corresponding, mirroring projects," Just as the puer Marathus tries different looks, so too the poet experiments with different styles and ideas and puts on different masks and assumes different identities throughout the book. (19)

The image of a puer who struggles to make his feet fit into tight-laced shoes in line 14 is also in agreement with Callimachus's small-scale aesthetic. Marathus's attempted foot-shortening finds a parallel in Ovid's Amores 3.1.7-8, where the personified Elegy is portrayed as walking on one short and one long foot. As Wyke (2002, 123) notes about this comic incongruity, "In the pentameter verses pes signals ambiguously both human and metrical feet." Just as the disproportionate feet the Ovidian caricature is granted symbolize the unevenness of feet in the elegiac distich due to the interchange between dactyls and spondees, so too the pressure Marathus exercises upon his feet to adjust their size may refer metaphorically to the restrictions imposed by the meter and the need for short syllables--especially in the second half of the pentameter verses, as illustrated by the use of pedes in line 14. (20)

Marathus's perfectionism, as exemplified by the attention he pays to small details such as his nails, recalls the pain a poet undergoes in trying to make his literary product more attractive and thus more competitive in the marketplace by meticulously polishing the text and smoothing the ends of the scroll with pumice. This practice is mentioned by Catullus in his programmatic poem in connection with his new witty libellus (small/slim book) that he dedicates to Cornelius Nepos. (21) Horace too refers to this practice in Epistles 1.20. The newly polished book that makes itself available to the reader is there equated to an adolescent slave who, after depilating his body to preserve his puerile looks, is eager to be put on sale and be owned by a new master. Pumice mundus (smooth by pumice, 1.20.2) acquires a double meaning in this context. It refers both to the smoothening of the young slave's body with pumice and to "the polish and labor of the Callimachean ideal" (Pearcy 1994, 458) which is applied to the book--its physical form as well as its content--that the slave boy symbolizes. (22) Similarly, by entrusting the care of his nails to an expert (artifex) with skilled (docta) hand (12), Marathus becomes an embodiment of the Callimachean aesthetic ideology of polish, urbanity, precision, and trimness--nail filing is, after all, shortening. (23)

If in the opening lines of poem 1.8 Tibullus constructs a puer as an incarnation of his aesthetic preferences, in poem 1.9 he deconstructs his own creation. (24) Marathus is still handsome, yet corrupt. As such, he can pollute what the poet labels as amoves in 1.9.1--to be understood both as "love" and "love poetry," since the term is used in the plural and thus can connote a collection of verses, as is the case with Phanocles' Erdtes or Cornelius Gallus's and Ovid's A mores. The departure of the male beloved with another man (either as fear or as reality) is a motif discussed by Catullus in the Juventius cycle (poems 15, 21, 24, and 81), as well as by Callimachus in Iambus 3, a poem about a boy named Euthydemus who is prostituted by his own mother. (25) This departure destabilizes the hierarchical relationship not only between lover and beloved or master and slave--given the servile status of pueri delicati in ancient Rome--but also between author and text that the boy is fashioned to represent. The slave-boy/text escapes the control of the master-lover/author, just as the poet-client Tibullus resists the patron Messalla and his militarist ideology in the opening poem of the book (1.1.53-6). From a metapoetic point of view, the image of an errant puer who defies gender protocols reveals the inability of the poet to exercise discursive mastery over his subject.

This interlocking system formed between erotics and poetics becomes clearer in Callimachus's famous Epigram 28 (Pfeiffer), which is addressed to a boy named Lysanias. After providing a list of things that he hates (an epic poem, a street-waking eromenos, a highway, a fountain, and everything that is public), the speaker concludes: Auoavtr), oo 8e vaifci xcdoq xaXog, ctXka. ttqiv eiTreiv / tooto aacpok; fjxco cprjoi tk; "ctoAoc; ejcei" (Lysanias, you are beautiful, yes beautiful; but before I said this clearly, an echo says: "Another has you"). William Fitzgerald (1995, 47-8) and David Fredrick (1997, 174-9) in their insightful readings of this poem have suggested that the anxiety Callimachus expresses through the trian-gulation of the pederastic affair is that about the alienation of the author from his own work when it is put into circulation. Lysanias--not a real boy, but one modeled on Theognis's Cyrnus--is allocated literary qualities that he betrays with his promiscuous behavior. His desirability, emphasized by the repetition of xaAoq, symbolizes the beauty of the text and its ability to arouse among men a desire to penetrate and possess. When the boy/text enters the literary market and is thus beyond the reach of the author, the author can no longer pose as a regulator of meaning and determine the way his work will be used or abused. The text can be owned by another man, the reader, who may try to impose his own meaning onto the author's words. Thus, once the text becomes public property, the author loses his authority over it and becomes ideologically 'handicapped.' Briefly put, in this epigram Callimachus creates a scenario that metaphorizes the tension between narrative agency and hermeneutic receptivity and results in the semiotic disempowerment of the author. (26)

Tibullus appropriates and elaborates this pattern of pueri circulating among men found in poetry before him. To paraphrase the title of an influential essay by Gayle Rubin (1975) in which she discusses the instrumentalization of women in patriarchal societies, this motif in Greco-Roman homoerotic poetry could be called "the traffic in boys." Queer theorist Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick who uses Rubin's views to talk about the role of women as commodities in the literary world notes: "Women [are used] as exchangeable, perhaps symbolic, property for the primary purpose of cementing the bonds of men with men" (1985,25-6).27 Such bonds, as Sedgwick (1985, 21) observes, are often antagonistic and concern the rivalry of two men over the same woman. "[T]he bond that links the two rivals is as intense as the bond that links either of the rivals to the beloved: ... the bonds of 'rivalry' and 'love/ differently as they are experienced, are equally powerful and in many senses equivalent."

Rivalry between men over a beautiful boy is characterized by the same degree of emulation and possessiveness. The lover strives to keep his beloved as his own. The rival strives to win over the boy Author and reader are also in a competitive relationship. The author poses as an authority figure, prescribing the ways in which his text should be read. The reader, on the other hand, comes to cut the strong link between author and text. The condensation of power relations pertaining to literary production in an erotic fiction is an effective way of discussing the discursive limitations of the text imposed by the author and challenged by the reader.

Tibullus turns his text into a beautiful puer. To personify is a way to personalize. The semantic autonomy of the text, metaphorized in poem 1.9 by the waywardness of Marathus, illustrates the inability of the author to impose closure upon his work and safeguard his own views against appropriation and re-inscription within new ideological regimes. This symbolic articulation of concerns regarding ownership and protection of intellectual property makes absolute sense if we bear in mind the conditions of publication in ancient Rome. As William Fitzgerald (2007, 95) reminds us with regard to the same anxiety expressed by Martial in epigram 1.52, "Roman authors not only received no royalty for the published book but were also unprotected by laws of copyright."28

In this epigram, Martial accuses another poet of stealing his work and uses slavery as an analogy to describe the act. This poet--called here plagiarius (kidnapper, 1.52.9), from which we derive the term plagiarism--appropriates Martial's released verses and pretends they are his own, just as a man does when he re-enslaves a libertinus after his master has granted his freedom. (29) The equation of the poetry book with a slave--especially a young slave, as the term puer in Tibullus 1.9.11 suggests-emphasizes the idea of possessive authorship. Joseph Loewenstein (2002, 77) points out:
  The analogy between book and slave does a good deal more ... than to
  suggest that poem be tethered to poet by the decencies of responsive
  indebtedness. The complex felicity of Martial's analogy has a great
  deal to do with the slave's confused status as person and thing, a
  confusion sometimes implied in filial and spousal subordination, but
  in no way as pronounced as in the subordination of servitude. ... [I]n
  the figure of the slave Martial probes the unruly uncanniness of the
  literary artifact, its selfness cleaving to and from its thingdom.


The slave's expected loyalty to his master serves as a denotation of the faithfulness of the text to the goals of the author. While writing, however, one's work often takes off in completely different directions than what he initially anticipates. Furthermore, once the text is separated from the author via publication, it threatens to become an autonomous discourse, a nexus of ideas interpreted independently of the author's initial intentions. Tibullus subscribes to this literary tradition of metaphorizing authorial concerns, in particular the author's aspiration to semiotic potency, and writes an elegy in which the loss of the male beloved to another man becomes a projection of the pessimism inherent in the poet's awareness of his own limitations and his inability to transcend the finitude of human artifice.

A puer, who in 1.8,9-16 adorns himself in front of the mirror like a prostitute in Roman comedy and in poem 1.9 has become a real one, threatens the elegiac corpus with infamy. He is no longer a source of inspiration, but a contaminant of the poet's relation to writing. If he continues to parade in the collection, its aesthetic value will be lost. (30) A book that caters to low taste is no longer property of its author. In an attempt to claim ownership and defend the propriety of his work, Tibullus puts on the Callimachean mask of phthoneros erastes and takes revenge by cursing, and so verbally disabling, the most erotically and poetically operative parts of Marathus's body.

Deprived of his physical beauty and thus of his ability to produce amor ('love' as well as 'love poetry'),31 Marathus is not a subject suitable for elegy. Just as he rejects the love of the poet, so too the poet renounces the poetry that he composed about him:
  quin etiam attonita laudes tibi mente canebam: at me nunc nostri
  Pieridumque pudet.
  ilia velim rapida Vulcanus carmina flamma torreat et liquida deleat
  amnis aqua. (1.9.47-50)

  In fact, I was singing praises for you even in my frenzy of mind: but
  now I am ashamed of myself and the Pierid Muses. I wish Vulcan to burn
  those verses with devouring flame and a river to wash them out with
  its running water.


The poet-lover, who earlier in poem 1.9 called upon water (liquidas aquas, 12) and fire (uretur ... urentur sole, 15) to punish Marathus and destroy the gifts with which his puer was seduced, now resorts to the same elements and prays that they will destroy the verses he composed about the boy when he was madly in love with him. Here, however, the poet contradicts himself, for he renounces previous poetry by writing a new poem, one of the longest in the collection. Given the pharmacological duplicity of writing, this contradiction is not difficult to explain. As Alison Sharrock (1994, 52) remarks, "Writing is a pharmakon for memory: a cure, but also a poison." To fall in love (and thus instill the venom of love deeply into him), the poet writes poetry; to reject love (and thus heal his emotional wound), he also writes poetry32 In poem 1.9 as a whole, therefore, the poet does the opposite of what he wishes about his pederastic verses in the lines above. In so doing, he deceives the reader and safeguards his status as a creator and most importantly as a manipulator of meaning. (33)

The same amount of diglossia characterizes the closing lines of Tibullus 1.9:
  turn flebis, cum me vinctum puer alter habebit
  et geret in regno regna superba tuo. at tua turn me poena iuvet,
  Venerique merenti
  fixa notet casus aurea palma meos: HANC TIBI FALLACI RESOLUTUS AMORE
  TIBULLUS
  DEDICAT ET GRATA SIS DEA MENTE ROGAT (1.9.79-84)

  You will weep then, when another boy has me bound and reigns proudly
  in your realm. But let your punishment please me then, and let a
  golden palm-branch, deposited to Venus who deserves it, indicate my
  misfortunes: RELEASED FROM DECEITFUL LOVE TIBULLUS DEDICATES THIS TO
  YOU AND BEGS YOU, GODDESS, TO KEEP A GRATEFUL MIND.


Despite his rejection by Marathus, the poet does not reject amor altogether for the sake of other more ambitious projects, such as epic poetry, or even a military career, as a Roman citizen was expected to do. By proclaiming his eagerness to become a slave to another puer and thus be inspired to write elegy again, Tibullus demonstrates the commitment to his art to the exclusion of traditional masculine pursuits or poetry about heroes from the mythical past, which is a celebration of Augustus's own military achievements and of Rome's fascination with war and imperialism. Nor does the poet renounce his pederastic poetry here. The dedication to Venus of a palm-branch made of gold--a material that withstands the erosive powers of time--and the inscriptional character of the distich with which the Marathus cycle is sealed suggest an attempt by Tibullus to monumentalize his literary product and ascribe to this collection of verses temporal endurance, a quality that is characteristic of stone artifacts. By seeking to assimilate his opus to a monument--a structure exposed to public view and admiration--Tibullus is also trying to gain visibility and renown. (34)

A Moechocinaedus in the Making

Marathus is not only a vehicle for the expression of the poet's concerns about his art. His construction is also informed by the big moral and political issues of the time in which book I was published. In 1.9.53-74, the speaker launches an attack on the rich rival and his family:
  at te qui puerum donis corrumpere es ausus
  rideat adsiduis uxor inulta dolis,
  et cum furtivo iuvenem lassaverit usu,
  tecum interposita languida veste cubet.
  semper sint externa tuo vestigia lecto,
  et pateat cupidis semper aperta domus:
  nee lasciva soror dicatur plura bibisse
  pocula vel plures emeruisse viros.
  illam saepe ferunt convivia ducere Baccho
  dum rota Luciferi provocet orta diem:
  ilia nulla queat melius consumere noctem
  aut operum varias disposuisse vices,
  at tua perdidicit: nee tu, stultissime, sentis,
  cum tibi non solita corpus ab arte movet.
  tune putas illam pro te disponere crines
  aut tenues denso pectere dente comas?
  ista haec persuadet fades, auroque lacertos
  vinciat et Tyrio prodeat apta sinu?
  non tibi, sed iuveni cuidam vult bella videri,
  devoveat pro quo remque domumque tuam.
  nee facit hoc vitio, sed corpora foeda podagra
  et senis amplexus culta puella fugit.

  And you, who dared corrupt the boy with gifts, may your wife
  unpunished ridicule you with her constant deceits. And after she has
  worn out the young man with secret skill, let her lie with you
  exhausted with the coverlets placed in between. Let there be always
  traces of a stranger on your bed and let your door be wide open to the
  amorous. Nor let it be said that your wanton sister has drunk more
  cups or that she has served more males. They say she often prolongs
  banquets with wine until the risen wheel of the Light-Bringer calls
  forth the day. No woman could spend the night better than her or
  arrange the various positions of lovemaking. But your wife has learned
  it all. But you, poor fool, do not notice when she moves her body for
  you with unaccustomed art. Do you think that she arranges her hair for
  you or that she combs her fine hair with a close-toothed comb? Does
  your beauty prompt this, so that she may both clasp gold on her arms
  and that she may go out attired in Tyrian drapery? She wants to appear
  beautiful not to you but to a certain young man, for the sake of whom
  she can doom your fortune and house. But she does not do this out of
  depravity, but the elegant girl runs away from limbs deformed by gout
  and the arms of an old man.


One of the things that the narrator wishes in the lines above is that the rival's young wife will surpass his sister in wantonness and drunkenness. She already has a young lover, but the speaker now prays for her to have sex with different men every time. The rival's house is visualized as a brothel with his wife acting like a whore in it. His sister already acts like one. She throws nightlong banquets that turn into orgies during which, as a good host, she takes care of the sexual needs of her male guests. Her behavior suggests a woman who is addicted to sex and shows absolutely no concern for her pudicitia (chastity), as a freeborn woman ought to do. Forgetful of her rank, she seeks the infamia (lack of reputation) attached to the profession of the prostitute and other shameful occupations, such as those of the actor, gladiator, and pimp. (35) This picture of excess and corruption that Tibullus paints in these lines connotes not only a lack of personal dignity and limits but also a confusion of classes. The top of society behaves like the bottom. Wife and sister are portrayed as figures of moral and social transgression.

Marathus is not left outside this picture. In poem 1.8, he is infatuated with a girl named Pholoe who rejects his love because she is bewitched by the gifts she is offered by a canus amator (grey-haired lover). Arguing in favor of a reading of poem 1.9 as a sequel to poem 1.8, Francis Cairns (1979, 151-3) has proposed the following identifications at the level of the narrative. First, the canus amator of poem 1.8 is the old rival of poem 1.9. Second, the rival's young wife in poem 1.9 is Pholoe, the puella he tries to seduce with his expensive gifts in poem 1.8. According to this scheme, the anonymous iuvenis (55, 71) with whom the uxor has a secret affair in poem 1.9 is the puer whose love she used to reject in the past, that is, Marathus. (36) The closing poem of the cycle thus casts Marathus as the protagonist in a story of adultery in an upper-class Roman family

The account in Tibullus 1.9.53-74 must be understood as a product of a particular historical period characterized by a multiplication of discourses concerned with the issue of adultery and its aftermath. Roman authors from the late Republic describe adultery as the disease of the aristocracy and attribute to the wives, sisters, and daughters of some of Rome's most powerful men an uncontrolled desire for sex. This desire is perceived as an especially destructive force, for it threatens the stability both of the elite domus and of the social institutions (Edwards 1993, 34-62; C. A. Williams 1999, 119-24). Responding to the amorous advances of Publius Clodius Pulcher, a young and ambitious patrician, Julius Caesar's second wife Pompeia, for example, was said to have encouraged him to be disguised as a woman in order to infiltrate the secret rites of the Bona Dea held at Caesar's own house in December of 62 B.C.E., a year after he had been appointed Pontifex Maximus. "[TJhis incident, related or alluded to by numerous Roman authors, sum[s] up the disorder of the final years of the Republic" (Edwards 1993, 34).37 A major festival, attended exclusively by women, is desecrated by a man; an upcoming politician known for his populist, and often unethical, tactics is dressed in drag trying to meet his female lover who is married to one of the most prominent politicians; and a man who holds the highest religious office in Rome at the time fails to notice his wife's infidelity in advance and deprive her of the opportunity to embarrass him in public by allegedly plotting with a homo effeminatus--as Cicero, Clodius's lifelong enemy, refers to him (Mil. 89). Another example of unrestrained female sexuality from the late Republican era is Sempronia, wife of Decimus Junius Brutus (consul 77 B.C.E.). Sallust (Cat. 25) states that she was involved in Catiline's conspiracy and goes on to paint a portrait of her that recalls Tibullus 1.9.53-74 in many respects. Although a Roman matrona, she valued nothing less than her seemliness (decus) and her sexual integrity (pudicitia). Her dissolute behavior, Sallust claims, made it difficult for someone to tell whether she was more prodigal of her money or of her reputation (jama). She was so obsessed with sex that she frequently made advances to men instead of waiting for them to solicit her company. Even before her participation in Catiline's conspiracy, she had broken her word, foresworn her debts, and been privy to murder.

Such examples of female license, counterbalanced by those of upper-class women who lived according to the protocols of moral propriety,38 are frequent in the literature of the late Republic and early Empire. This increase in accounts of adultery, however, does not mean that the Romans of this period had become more adulterous. Such stories are not limited to exposing improper female conduct, but often link adultery to economic disintegration and sociopolitical upheaval, issues crucial in a period marked by continuous civil war followed by a reorganization of the empire by Augustus. Simply put, gender is aligned with the national interest. The elite domus is treated by authors of this transitional period as an extension of the Roman state, and adulterous women as emblems of decadence, corruption, and chaos in both the private and the public domain. Embedded in discourses with a moral end, historical women like Pompeia and Sempronia, let alone their elegiac counterparts in Tibullus 1.9, are "not real people but resonant metaphors for social and political disorder" (Edwards 1993, 36).39

In lines 69-72, the narrator states that, in her attempt to be attractive to her young lover, the rival's wife is overly preoccupied with her external appearance. (40) She arranges her hair in search of the perfect style, wears dresses dyed in Tynan purple, and enhances her appeal with gleaming golden armlets. Like gold, Tyrian purple is not only a symbol of social status but also a rare and expensive material in Roman antiquity. By indulging in such luxury, this young woman may put her husband's property at risk and destroy him financially. At the same time, the failure of the rival to control the extravagance of his wife and the wantonness of his sister shows that he is incapable of running his household. Such a man does not qualify as a vir. A vir "must exercise dominion over his own body and his own desires as well as the bodies and desires of those under his jurisdiction--his wife, children, and slaves--just as the Roman citizenry as a whole ideally dominates most of the real world" (C.A. Williams 1999, 141). A vir who fails to do so cannot (and should not) hold public office successfully or become a good leader. The rival, of course, has his reasons to neglect his duties as a paterfamilias. He is preoccupied with his own desires and the boy Marathus.

The picture of an aristocratic domus in which the women are unrestrained and its master is so self-absorbed that he does not care about his reputation and finances is in full agreement with, and so validates, Augustus's intension to restore morality in Rome as soon as he established his power. His legislative program addressed marriage and adultery in the elite with particular attention to the regulation of female sexuality in the interests of the state. Perhaps as early as 28 or 27 B.C.E.,41 the princeps passed a law, the lex lulia de maritandis ordinibus, with which he made marriage mandatory, especially for senators and equites. In 18 B.C.E., he passed another law, the lex lulia de adulteriis, with which he made extramarital affairs between men and married women illegal. The law prescribed various penalties for both the adulterer and the adulteress, including divorce and infamia. If a father caught his daughter committing adultery in his own house or that of his son-in-law, he had the right to kill both her and her lover, a right not extended automatically to the husband. The husband too was liable to prosecution. If he was aware of his wife's adulterous affairs but failed to take legal action against her, he could face charges of pandering (lenocinium). Lines 57-8 describe a situation like this. The speaker wishes the rival's house to be open to his wife's lovers and his bed to bear signs of her extramarital activity This picture suggests a man who is a conscious cuckold and puts up with the humiliating behavior of his wife. According to Augustan legislation, tolerance of adultery was prohibited. As Catharine Edwards (1993, 60-1) points out, "An attack on the rights of husbands or fathers was an attack on the power of the state. ... The law against adultery bore a disconcerting resemblance to that against treason--and adultery itself now took on a much more intimate association with political subversion."

Tibullus's narrative, however, does more than simply inscribe itself in the Roman discourse of adultery and reproduce certain aspects of it. Marathus's representation as a moechocinaedus* 2--a man, that is, who pursues married women (moechus) but is himself effeminate and seeks to play the passive role in sexual intercourse with men (cinaedus)--acts as a cynical reminder that, although Augustus sought to be identified as a crusader against immorality, he too constituted a frequent target for accusations of womanizing and self-prostitution. In his biography of Augustus, Suetonius (who wrote under Hadrian, but had access to material before him) synthesizes the portrait of a ruler who was known both for having many amorous affairs with married ladies and for having been penetrated at a young age (Aug. 68-9). Not only did Augustus lose his virginity to (thereby earning his adoption by) great-uncle Julius Caesar, as Suetonius narrates reproducing a gossip spread by Augustus's infamous enemy Mark Antony He also had sex for money with the legate Aulus Hirtius in Spain, as Lucius, Antony's brother, rumored. Suetonius adds that Augustus, wishing to retain the appeal of a puer, used to singe his legs with hot nutshells in order to make the hair grow softer.

Augustus and Publius Clodius Pulcher (mentioned above) are certainly not the only politicians of the late Republican period to be associated with the stereotype of the 'effeminate womanizer/ Caesar too was notorious both for his adulteries and for playing the role of the puer in his much-lampooned affair with the Bithynian king Nicomedes. (43) Suetonius (Jul 49) reports that Bibulus, Caesar's co-consul, referred to him in his public edicts as the "queen of Bithynia" who was previously enamored of a king and now of a kingdom. Suetonius also tells us that in a crowded assembly a certain Octavius addressed Caesar as "queen" and that Gaius Memmius, a supporter of Pompey at the time, made the charge that he acted as the cupbearer of Nicomedes and his guests at a dinner party. Cicero, Suetonius adds, was unhappy having to write in his letters that Caesar was led by the king's attendants to the royal apartments and lost his virginity while lying on a golden couch clothed in purple. Similarly, Mark Antony who was notorious for his affair with Cleopatra while he was still married to Fulvia, was accused by Cicero of acting in his adolescence as the "wife" of the younger Curio (Phil. 2.44-5). More specifically, the accusation that Cicero hurls against Antony is that, once he assumed a man's toga, he began to sell himself as a prostitute charging a rather high price. Curio came to his rescue, and after taking him away from this career he settled him in a certain and stable marriage. Thus, as Cicero points out in addressing Antony, "no puer bought for the sake of lust was ever so much under his master's control as you were under Curio's" (nemo umquam puer emptus libidinis causa tarn fuit in domini potestate quam tu in Curionis).

Marathus's portrayal as a moechocinaedus in the making may not necessarily point to a particular individual, but is certainly informed by the general climate in the second half of the first century B.C.E. within which analogous accounts about Augustus and other politicians were produced in Rome. Just as in the case with the historical examples listed above, so too the image of the effeminate womanizer that Tibullus confers upon his fictitious character illustrates not only that sex and power are intertwined in Roman conceptions of gender but also that sexed identities, bodies, and desires are mimetic or "performative"--to borrow a term from queer theorist Judith Butler (1993; 1999). Butler (1999, 43-4) theorizes gender in a way very much applicable to the above Roman accounts: a "repeated stylization of the body, a set of repeated acts within a highly rigid regulatory frame that congeal over time to produce the appearance of substance, of a natural sort of being." Diverse as they may be, moechus and cinaedus are assumed and put on as masks by Marathus--let alone by Caesar, Antony, and Augustus, all of whom lose some of their realness once they enter a narrative and become vehicles for the propagandization of a certain socio-moral ideology. The construction of masculinity as masquerade, however, has neither a singular nor a coherent effect and disrupts any totalitarian formulations of gender. As Tibullus 1.9 demonstrates, gender is fashioned both in accordance with and in opposition to a regulatory frame so that there is no single model of masculinity Rather, we can talk about a multiplicity of masquerades, an assemblage of positions that make up masculinity, at least at the level of representation.

Conclusion: Queer Tibullus (44)

On the previous pages, I argued that Tibullus 1.9 reveals an alignment between narrative praxis and Roman configurations of gender along the axis of dominance and submission. The speaker resorts to a curse to alleviate his anger and raise himself higher in the scale of the mastery of love. In other words, the content of the curse hurled against Marathus denotes an attempt by the betrayed lover to regain his lost pride and deprive his errant puer of his agency and autonomy. The externalization, however, of anger is a violation of one of the fundamental principles of masculinity: self-discipline. In Roman moralizing discourses, the admission, especially in public, of emotions, such as fear, pain, or desire, was dismissed as womanish. As Craig Williams (1999, 141) points out, "Masculinity was not fundamentally a matter of sexual practice; it was a matter of control."

The Roman codes of masculine conduct are explicitly subverted a few lines later, when the speaker declares that he would prefer to be tortured than succumb to money and break an oath, just as Marathus did: ure meum potius flamma caput et pete ferro I corpus et intorto verbere terga seca (Rather burn my head with fire and stab my body with steel and cut my rear with twisted scourge, 21-2). This declaration aims at emphasizing the speaker's adherence to his moral standards, but to the male reader/listener of Tibullus's station it sounds heretical, not to say rebellious. An aristocrat whose physical integrity is protected by law declares his willingness to be treated like a slave or criminal in order to prove his aversion to money--a criterion for the attainment and preservation of elite status--and his devotion to love, a non-elite preoccupation. A few lines later, the speaker adds: haec ego dicebam: nunc meflevisse loquentem / nunc pudet ad teneros procubuisse pedes (This I used to say to you. Now I am ashamed that I wept while I spoke, that I fell at your tender feet, 29-30). The speaker admits not only that he wept, thereby displaying his vulnerability through an act associated with women, but also that he fell prostrate at the boy's feet, as if he were a slave or war captive. Given the fact that a puer delicatus is a slave in real life, the speaker here describes a past act that defies social boundaries. This reversal of gender roles and power dynamics characterizes the way the speaker imagines his relationship with a new puer at the end of the poem: tumflebis, cum me vinctum puer alter habebit I etgeret in regno regna superba tuo (You will weep then, when another boy has me bound and reigns proudly in your realm, 79-80). Tibullus 1.9 closes with the proclamation of a rather unorthodox philosophy of life according to which the amator is submissive and the puer is dominant.

In the opening lines of 1.9, the speaker aligns himself with the hegemonic model of masculinity, but as the narrative unfolds he undermines such critical assumptions. The philosophy of amor to which he subscribes defies, and at the same time problematizes, Roman culture's traditional equation of gender and sexual roles. In one line of the poem, he speaks like a man/master and in another like a woman/slave. The gender identity he assumes transgresses Roman definitions of vir and thus could be characterized as queer. I use the term queer here both in its primary meaning as something 'strange, odd, dubious, eccentric, unconventional1 and in its modern academic meaning as a set of beliefs and practices that are in sharp contrast to normative gender roles and codes of conduct. As David Halperin (1995, 62) explains,
  Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the
  legitimate, the dominant. ... [I]t describes a horizon of possibilities
  whose precise extent and heterogeneous scope cannot in principle be
  delimited in advance. It is from the eccentric positionality occupied
  by the queer subject that it may become possible to envision a variety
  of possibilities for reordering the relations among sexual behaviors,
  erotic identities, constructions of gender, forms of knowledge,
  regimes of enunciation, logics of representation, modes of self
  -constitution, and practices of community--for reconstructing, that
  is, the relations among power, truth, and desire. (Emphasis in the
  original)


The same gender indeterminacy and queerness characterize the construction of Marathus. In his role as puer, he represents an identity that falls short of the hegemonic model of masculinity. Yet, despite his status as a boy, he is able to victimize men. What is more, although he is effeminate, he is a womanizer, thereby destabilizing further the singularity of 'boy' and projecting in its place a heterogeneous array of signifiers. In producing a puer who defies the strict active/passive binary, Tibullus creates for himself an opportunity to question other rigid dichotomies (master/siave, young/old, poor/rich, moral/immoral, self/other) that are themselves analyzable in terms of gender and provide the notional framework upon which hierarchies were formed and maintained in Roman society

The construction of queer subjects in poem 1.9 is informed by the sociopolitical climate in which book 1 was published. The years of the civil war gave rise to one particular model of man, the miles, best illustrated by Rome's great generals. Sulla and Marius, Pompey and Caesar, Antony and Octavian were all figures that epitomized the alignment of vir with martial prowess and the desire for power and wealth. In their case, masculinity is identified as performance--on the battlefield as well as in the political arena--to the exclusion of other concerns and pursuits, such as love and pleasure, which were deemed to be womanish. (45) In the years following the battle at Actium, the need for ideological redefinition of the empire, with an emphasis on those beliefs and practices that were key to the concept of vir, became pressing. Augustus's attempt, however, to restore the res publica to health through a legislative program that sought to reorganize and homogenize the private life of the Romans entailed an ethical conformity for elite men and a lack of their sexual freedom.

Tibullus 1.9 participates in this process of ideological redefinition by challenging the perpetuation of conceptual binarisms and behavioral limitations. The poem suggests a third space in which masculine and feminine attitudes blend into a queer ideology and an androgynous poetic voice. As the very symbol of androgynism, Marathus can afford to act as a disruptive force in the monologic gender economy of post-civil war Rome. The indeterminate gender position he occupies epitomizes the crisis of categories during that period. Furthermore, the structure of the pederastic affair becomes a resonant metaphor for the relationship between individual and the state. Marathus's status as a puer serves as a powerful reminder to the Roman reader of Tibullus that the various dependencies and inequalities in both the private and the public domain can always force a vir to play the role of the 'boy.' Such a metaphorical reading of pederasty is not without relation to the sociopolitical climate out of which Tibullan elegy emerged. Augustus's establishment of one-man rule forced the elite to submit to his authority. The patron-client relationship also puts the poet in the subordinate position of the boy. 'Boy,' therefore, problematizes 'man' as a concept and shows that it cannot be reduced to an inelastic model of behavior; that, instead, 'man' is a site of varied, complex possibilities. It is through such debates taking place on Tibullus's poetic stage that a community of readers and listeners is fashioned and refashioned. (46)

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Notes

(1.) In Meier and De Pogey-Castries 1930, 192-3, Marathus is taken to be a Phoenician slave, presumably because of the aural affinity between the name of the boy and that of the eponymous city in eastern Mediterranean. Booth (1996, 246 note 63; 1999, xl) follows the same line of argument and cites Suetonius (Aug. 79.2; 94.3) who reports that Augustus had a freedman named Iulius Marathus. For conjectures on Marathus's servile status, see also Richlin 1993, 537 note 34; Maltby 2002, 45; Hubbard 2003, 345. On the symbolic significance of the proper name Marathus for the pederastic cycle as a whole, see Murgatroyd 1991, 9 and 1992; Gauly 1995; Maltby 2002, 46.

(2.) Conjectures about the year in which Tibullus's book 1 was published are based on poem 1.7, which celebrates Messalla's birthday by linking it to the triumph for his victory over Aquitania. According to the Fasti Capitolini Triumphales, the triumph was held on 25 September 27 B.C.E. The collection must have been put into circulation soon after this event and certainly before Messalla's next birthday in 26. See, e.g., Murgatroyd 1991, 11-2; Booth 1999, xxxix; Maltby 2002, 40.

Knox (2005) offers a reconsideration of the book's publication date and places it in mid-to late 29 B.C.E., that is, in the year after the Aquitanian campaign. He argues that Tibullus 1.7 does not refer to Messalla's triumph as a past event, but rather predicts its occurrence. Although, as Knox correctly points out, the delay in celebrating a conquest with a triumph is not unusual in post-Actium Rome, what makes his argument contestable is that he relies on Scaliger's emendation of portabat (1.7.8) to portabit, which is attested in only one manuscript. The change is minimal (one letter) but verb endings are notoriously vulnerable. Knox's further change of at (1.7.7) into ac--again minimal--alienates his argument from the paradosis. I would like to thank Francis Cairns for helping me formulate this response via electronic communication.

(3.) Scholarship on the elegiac puella is extensive. See, e.g., Gold 1993; Fredrick 1997; Greene 1998; Connolly 2000; James 2001, 2003, 2012; Janan 2001; Wyke 2002, 1-191; Miller 2004, 60-94; Skinner 2005, 218-26.

(4.) On the identification of the anonymous puer in Tibullus 1.9 with Marathus, sec Bright 1978, 248-9; Cairns 1979, 151; Murgatroyd 1991, 9; Maltby 2002, 45, 322.

(5.) All translations are my own. The Latin text of Tibullus is taken from Smith 1913.

(6.) Propertius 4.5 also combines performative utterances (in the aorist) and deictic language in a magical context, on which see O'Neill 1998, 68-9.

(7.) Other incantatory motifs are the alliteration of consonants, especially of p in line 13, which creates a spitting effect--an effect that would have been more vivid during oral performance of the poem--and the reference to the four cosmic elements: water (aquas, 12), air (ventis, 14), fire (sole, 15), and earth (via, 16).

(8.) The meaning of via longa is obscure and critics have proposed various interpretations: Marathus may have to follow his new lover on a long journey to a harsh and distant land for gain or accompany him on military campaign or perhaps during administrative service in the provinces (Smith 1913, 364; Cairns 1979, 167-8; Lyne 1980, 173; Maltby 2002, 326). Tibullus, I believe, docs not provide any information about this journey on purpose: the destination and goal of the journey are less important than its duration. The betrayed amator creates with his imagination a nightmare for the one who has made his life a nightmare, and underscores--as illustrated by the juxtaposition of via longa with pedes--that detail of the journey that will cause the deterioration of Marathus's walking ability: its length. Maltby (2002, 326) is right is observing that line 16 is a reversal of 1.4.41-2, where the via longa entails much suffering for the lover in his attempt to please his puer.

(9.) This reading is suggested by the word order in the hexameter. Although sole is shared by both forms of the verb uror (Smith 1913, 364), its juxtaposition with urentur after the main caesura suggests that uretur facies can be interpreted independently of the via longa context.

(10.) Amor interchanges with both foedus and fides in the poem: tunc mihi iurabas nullo te divitis auri / pondere, non gemmis vendere velle fidem (Then you used to swear that you wanted to sell your loyalty for no weight of splendid gold or precious stones, 1.9.31 - 2). On the political connotations of foedus and fides in Catullus and his elegiac successors, see, e.g., Ross 1969. 80-95 and 1975, 8-15; Miller 1994, 131; Skinner 1997, 143; Gardner 2007, 160 note 32.

(11.) The description of love as a disease is a poetic tradition introduced in the archaic period and attested in several of the pederastic epigrams of Callimachus and Meleager, on which sec, e.g., duBois 1995 and Calame 1999, 56-62.

(12.) Cf. Winkler 1990, 87-91, for the argument that the spellcaster aims to create in the victim the symptoms of lovesickness s/he feels.

(13.) The idea of exclusivity becomes clear in lines 77-8 where the speaker asks Marathus: blanditiasne meas aliis tu vendere es ausus / tune aliis demens oscula ferre mea? (Did you dare to sell to others caresses that belonged to me and take to others kisses that [also] belonged to me?).

(14.) Cf. Tibullus 1.4.37-8 where the speaking statue of Priapus states: solis aeterna est Baccho Phoeboque iuventas: / nam decet intonsus crinis utrumque deum (Only Bacchus and Phoebus have eternal youth; for unshorn hair is fitting for either god). In Ovid, Am. 1.14.1-2, Corinna's hair, before she overstyled it, is said to be worthy of admiration by Apollo and Bacchus; on this see Rimell 2006, 145. On the cithara-playing Apollo and his various hairstyles depending on the period, see Jones Roccos 1989.

(15.) On mollis and durus in Latin elegy, see Cairns 1984; Kennedy 1993, 31-3; McNamee 1993, 219; Keith 1994, 34; Wyke 2002, 168-9; Miller 2004, 137-43; Greene 2005, 76; Manwell 2007, 116-25; Nikoloutsos 2007, 60.

(16.) See also McNamee 1993, 245-6 note 34, on how the vocabulary of hairdressing is used to render the pains of prosaic composition.

(17.) Elegance is recognized as the main characteristic of Tibullan elegy in Roman literary criticism. So Quintilian: elegia quoque Graecos provocamus, cuius mihi tersus atque elegans maxime videtur auctor Tibullus; sunt qui Propertium malint; Ovidius utroque lascivior, sicut durior Gallus (In elegy, too, we rival the Greeks; Tibullus seems to me the most polished and elegant writer of this genre. There are those who prefer Propertius. Ovid is more wanton than either, just as Gallus is harsher, Inst 10.1.93). For an analysis of this famous passage, see Cairns 1979, 3-6.

(18.) Cultus is an epithet attributed to Tibullus by Ovid in.4/H. 1.15.18 and 3.9.66. On the puer as a figure for the poet himself in Propertius 1.20, see Oliensis 1997, 162.

(19.) On the different identities (poet, lover, client, soldier, farmer, social critic, love advisor) assumed by the narrator in Tibullus's book 1, see Miller 2004, 95.

(20.) The abundance of long syllables in Latin presents an elegist with an additional obstacle. It is worth noting that ansa (loop) also translates the Greek lobe (handle; that by which something is taken hold of); on ansa, see TLL 2.122.82. A well-known derivative of lahe is syllabi (that which holds together; that by which several letters are held together so as to produce one sound, i.e., a syllable). This also suggests the subjection of Marathus's feet to metrical rules.

(21.) On Catullus's preoccupation with the external appearance of his book, see Fitzgerald 1995, 40-1 and Habinek 1998, 105, 112-3.

(22.) On the double meaning of pumice mundus, see also O'Neill 2000, 266. On Horace, Ep. 1.20, see Oliensis 1998, 175-81 and Dupont 2009, 152-3.

(23.) Marathus's literariness is also illustrated by the application of rouge to his cheeks. Fucus has a double meaning in Latin, both 'red dye' and 'pretence,' and it is used in oratory to denote the artificiality and deceptiveness in writing or speaking. Cf. Wyke 1994, 144-5.

(24.) In 1.9.11-6, Marathus is stripped of the urbanity and sophistication that he is allocated in 1.8.9-16. A sunburned complexion, as Andre (1980) points out, was associated with peasants and was frowned upon. In Vergil, Ecl. 2.16, the shepherd Menaclas is described as niger in contrast to the city-dwelling Alexis who is candidus; cf. Maltby 2002, 327.

(25.) On Iambus 3, see Dawson 1946 and Acosta-Hughes 2002, 221-51.

(26.) These ideas are explored by Martial in several epigrams; see C A. Williams 2002a.

(27.) For the traffic in women in Latin literature, sec Keith 2007, 338-41.

(28.) The identification of the boy/text as the poet's possession and his attempt to establish control over him/it reflect the fear of property loss--a real threat in the final years of the Republic. In order to refill the treasury, in 43 B.C.E. the second Triumvirate resorted to proscription, a measure initially imposed by Sulla in 82 B.C.E. A number of senators and equites were put on the list and faced confiscation of property. In 42 B.C.E., after returning to Rome from Philippi, Octavian confiscated land throughout Italy and awarded it to the veterans--a decision that generated much turmoil and led to a new phase of civil war.

(29.) As Fitzgerald (2007, 95) notes, Martial is not the only Roman author who uses the relationship between master and slave to express his anxiety about the reception of his work. Pliny, Martial's contemporary, advises a friend as follows: enotuerunt quidam tui versus, et invito te claustra sua refregerunt. hos nisi retrahis in corpus, quandoque ut errones aliquem cuius dicantur invenient (Some of your verses have become known, and have broken down their barriers against your will. Unless you drag them back into the collection, sooner or later, like runaway slaves, they will find another who will call them his own, Ep. 2.10.3).

(30.) As C A. Williams (2002a, 154 note 18) notes about the personification of the poetry book in Horace's Ep. 1.20, if "the book has been read and appropriated by too many amatores, it will lose its desirability."

(31.) On the double meaning at amor in Tibullus, see Nikoloutsos 2007, 67.

(32.) As Calamc (1999, 59) writes with respect to Callimachus's pederastic epigrams, "Poetic speech is the best antidote--an effective remedy and magic formula--for the wounds of Love. Used as a substitute, a poem has the effect of a catharsis. ..."

(33.) On the relationship between author and reader in Tibullus, sec Lcc-Stecum 1998 and 2000.

(34.) For the attempt of Roman clcgists to equate their poetry with stone monuments, sec Habinek 1998, 109-14. For articulations, literal or metaphorical, of the anxiety of Roman poets about literary fame and the posthumous durability of their work, see Roman 2001 and C A. Williams 2002b.

(35.) On prostitution and infamia, see Edwards 1997.

(36.) This identification has been defended and pursued further by Booth 1996, 240-1 and 1999, 118-9.

(37.) For a full list of authors narrating this incident, see C.A. Williams 1999, 322 note 79.

(38.) Octavian's wife Livia and sister Octavia were often cited as examples of proper female conduct, on which see Dixon 1998, 74-84; Keith 2000, 79-80; Wyke 2002, 170,216-8.

(39.) For renewed emphasis on the elite domus and female sexuality as metaphors for public life in Augustan Rome, see Milnor 2005.

(40.) If we accept Cairns's identificatory scheme, the portrayal of the rival's wife in line 62-72 suggests a role reversal, since it is Marathus who tries to appeal to Pholoe by means of excessive grooming in poem 1.8. On inversion of power relations in Tibullus, sec Maltby 2004.

(41.) Based on Propertius 2.7, G. Williams (1962, 28-9; 1968, 531-5, 614; 1990, 267 note 19) has argued that in 28 B.C.E. Augustus attempted to pass but, because of strong public reaction, repealed a law that forced men to marry women of their own station and beget children. This argument has been pursued further by Cairns 1978; Galinsky 1981 and 1996, 131; and Skinner 2005, 204. The last two scholars take the year for Augustus's unsuccessful attempt to be 27 B.C.E.

On the other hand, Badian (1985), following Raditsa (1980), contends that the abolition by Augustus of a law he had passed himself would not have escaped the notice of historians and that the reference in Propertius is to the withdrawal of a Triumviral measure imposed upon unmarried men. Unlike Augustus's later marriage law, this edict was not concerned with moral issues but was introduced for the purpose of raising funds for the ongoing civil wars. Badian's thesis has been accepted by Edwards 1993, 41 note 26; Konstan 1994, 152; Gale 1997, 89-90; Miller 2004, 143. However, as Galinsky (1996, 131) and Miller (2004, 143-5) point out, the fact that Augustus passed a law in 18 B.C.E. with which he sought to extend his control over private life does not mean that he could not have announced his intention to do so at the very beginning of his reign. James (2003, 229-31) puts forward a rather plausible hypothesis: Augustus brought up the idea of both the marriage and the adultery law in 28 or 27 B.C.E., but he found such resistance that he waited until his power was fully consolidated before he tried to pass these laws again in 18 B.C.E.

(42.) The term is attested in Lucilius 1058 (Marx): inberhi androgyni, barbati moechocinaedi. For stereotypes on moechocinacdi in ancient Rome, see C. A. Williams 1999, 207.

(43.) This accusation fits Caesar right because, as Richlin (1993, 532) shrewdly points out, the appointment in Bithynia was Caesar's first post at the age of nineteen, when he was not too old to serve as a puer. Caesar's sexual indeterminacy is illustrated by a comment made by the elder Cato, according to which he was "the man of every woman and the woman of every man" (omnium mulierum virum et omnium virorum mulierem: Suetonius, IuL 52.3).

(44.) For a more detailed discussion of the queerness of the Tibullan narrator, see Nikoloutsos 2011.

(45.) On Republican discourses of masculinity, see McDonnell 2006.

(46.) Previous, and much different, versions of this paper were presented at the 2003 fall meeting of the Classical Association of the Atlantic States and the 2005 annual meeting of the American Philological Association. I wish to thank the attendees of those conferences for their valuable feedback, as well as the anonymous referee of Helios for providing useful comments and suggestions for improving the paper. Thanks are also due to the following people for reading, and reading again, various drafts of this paper: Anthony Corbeill, Mary-Kay Gamel, Pamela Gordon, Sharon James, Paul Allen Miller, and Marilyn Skinner. This paper is dedicated, with much respect, to Judith Hallett and Marilyn Skinner for their pioneering work on Roman sexuality.
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Date:Mar 22, 2011
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