The Language of Gender

Lexical semantics and the Latin vocabulary of unmanly men

Authored by: Craig Williams

Sex in Antiquity

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415519410
eBook ISBN: 9781315747910
Adobe ISBN: 9781317602774

10.4324/9781315747910.ch26

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Abstract

Interpretations of the sex—gender systems of ancient Greece and Rome cannot, in the nature of things, be based on the “thick descriptions” familiar from cultural anthropology, derived as they are from observations of living individuals and groups and the complex interplay of their behaviors and utterances. We have but a thin network of material surviving from Greek and Roman antiquity on the basis of which to construct our interpretive models: physical remains on the one hand, texts on the other. We are arguably readers of both kinds of material, and those of us who were trained as readers of Greek and Latin texts certainly should and do pay a great deal of attention to words, singly and in combination.

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