n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Binary opposition and aristocratic ideology in 386 Shackleton Bailey (= 390 Riese)

Volume 40, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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The poem by Eucheria, a case par excellence of , comprises the longest list of impossibilities and paradoxical liaisons in Classical literature. Traditional drawn from the realm of nature here undergo significant transformation, while new -motifs are constructed, all of which conform to the poem's fundamental concern with mating. The poetess' entire system of reasoning is based on a dualistic classification of social reality, represented as such by the twenty-seven incongruous pairs which function as literary signs indicating Eucheria's and the boorish servant's social class.

The poem can be read in a number of ways without the one cancelling the other. The ideological voice of the poem, the entire system of thematic oppositions and the poetess' declaration in the end show her commitment to the prevailing social order. One could also argue that the poem can be viewed as a declaration of Eucheria's non-compliance with prescribed patterns of behaviour forged by her Roman predecessors.

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