n Acta Classica : Proceedings of the Classical Association of South Africa - Feeding Aurelius' hunger : Catallus 21

Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0065-1141
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Scholars see the insult of Cat. 2 1 in the inappropriateness of Aurelius' being poor and a rival or in the inappropriateness of his being a parasite and a rival. This paper argues against these interpretations because in the poem hunger does not stigmatize Aurelius as poor or a parasite but rather as a promiscuous sodomite. For this reason Cat. 2 1 should be understood in the context of the traditional Roman view of masculinity : appropriate domination is an affirmation of healthy masculinity; inappropriate submission is unhealthy emasculation. The paper also suggests that Cat. 21 is an elaboration of a standard insult, 'esureis et me felas', threatening a dissatisfying and sexually humiliating 'feeding' of Aurelius' empty belly and a sexually dissatisfying and humiliating fulfillment of Aurelius' carnal desires. In making these insults, Catullus can be said to have put Aurelius, excessively indulging his masculine lust, in his submissive place.

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