Liam’s Updated Thesis Portrait

In my preliminary ideas thesis post, I had very large aspirations of covering a wide range of material from the Bronze Age to modernity, wherein I had hoped to trace the myth of Medea from its potential earliest origins, and consider how multiple cultures including 5th century Athenians, Republican Romans, Imperial Romans, early Americans, and modern Americans have understood and replicated this myth in different forms. Using that I had hoped to analyze broadly ideas of globalization and transculturation. Fortunately, my research has narrowed considerably and I now have a much clearer grasp on what the scope of this project will be.

I essentially will break the thesis into three general sections: the first will include, alongside secondary sources, close readings of Euripides’ Medea, attempting to understand the various complexities of the character, and the way the narrative has been interpreted by scholars in the 20th and 21st centuries as a protagonist or antagonist. I will use this analysis to transition into a discussion of several Afrocentric theatrical receptions of the play in the 20th century, and alongside more analytical secondary sources, seek to understand the mythologized figure of Medea and why her character/narrative is drawn on so frequently in this recent tradition. I will then narrow in on Silas Jones’ play “American Medea” (1995), which has very little scholarship on it, and so will permit me to use conclusions and understandings from my previous analyses to make original arguments about what Jones’ play accomplishes with respect to original stories that use the familiarity and prevalence of Euripides to tell compelling and important stories.

What should be present throughout this thesis are themes of intersectionality, post-colonial and decolonization theory, and anti-racism. The conversations specifically about reception will be analyzed alongside important authors in these subjects, including (but not limited to) Audre Lorde, MalcomX, Dr. Kendi, Eve Tuck, and bell hooks. The broader implications of this thesis should consider how Medea can be used to further conversations around disenfranchisement, marginalization, power, and joy. We will look at how receptions of Medea can be empowering, as well as how they may utilize familiarity in order to construct comprehensive criticisms of the modern institutions in the United States.

An additional aspiration I have for this thesis is to incorporate ideas of emotional experience and the affect of theater and performance of empathy, community, and shared experience as transformative. I am not sure how I would do this, but one idea I had would be to structure my thesis as an imitation of the Dionysia festival, with a “satyr play” sort of interlude to address these topics. Because we are talking about theater, I don’t want this thesis to be entirely grounded in typical academic writing and am interested in different ways I could incorporate a more creative mode of presenting my arguments. This will likely be more of a secondary consideration, but I believe I can justify doing this with some of the research I have. There’s always more to think about!

Hannah Chayet’s Categorized Bibliography

Primary Sources



Read: Last of the Women’s Plays; the plot focuses on the protagonist Praxagora as she leads the women of Athens to disguise themselves as men and take over the Assembly. Like in Lysistrata, I will focus on the traits that allow this female protagonist’s plan to succeed. This text is important to my central analysis of women in Aristophanes and the greater genre of Old Comedy.


Read: First of Aristophanes’ Women’s Plays, performed in 411 BCE. Follows the plot of Athenian women––lead by Lysistrata––as the hold a sex strike against their husbands with the goal of ending the Peloponnesian War. Forms the basis for my analysis of gender within Aristophanes’ plays as I focus on the tactics Lysistrata employs in pursuit of peace. Her ability to manipulate masculine traits as well as the weaponization of femininity in the play are two main areas that interest me. 


Read: Published shortly after Lysistrata, and is composed of a majority female cast of characters, Thesmo shares many themes with the other Women’s Plays. I plan on using it to bring traits of tragic women into the conversation of comedy.

Thucydides, “Pericles’ Funeral Oration.” The Peloponnesian War. 2.34-46.

Read: Cited for its line regarding the praise for silent women and their lack of reputation: “Great will be your glory in not falling short of your natural character; and greatest will be hers who is least talked of among the men, whether for good or for bad.”

Ancient Greek Theater

Brown, Peter G. M. “Comedy, Greek, New.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics,

December 22, 2015.

Read: Overview of New Comedy.

Dover, Kenneth. “Comedy, Greek, Old.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Classics,

December 22, 2015.

Read: Overview of Old Comedy.

Revermann, Martin. The Cambridge Companion to Greek Comedy. Cambridge University

Press, 2014

Read: Background of Greek Comedy and its origins; extensive section on Comic authors (like Aristophanes) has been very useful in my research and writing so far.


Oxford Bibliographies. “Aristophanes.” Accessed October 24, 2022.

Read: Has been helpful in providing other resources for background and analysis of Aristophanes’ works.

Bierl, Anton. “Chapter 1. The Comic Chorus in the Thesmophoriazusae of Aristophanes.” In Ritual and Performativity: The Chorus of Old Comedy, translated by Alexander Hollmann, 83–254. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2009.

To Read –– analysis of various entrances/scenes involving the Chorus in Thesmo.

Dobrov, Gregory. “Aristophanes.” In Brill’s Companion to The Study of Greek Comedy. Leiden, Netherlands: Hotei Publishing, 2010.

Read: Section on Aristophanes––biographical history and overview/analysis of a selection of his works.

Elderkin, G. W. “Aphrodite and Athena in the Lysistrata of Aristophanes.” Classical Philology 35, no. 4 (1940): 387–96.

Read: Provides context on the presence of divine figures within Lysistrata.

Faraone, Christopher A., and Laura K. McClure. Prostitutes and Courtesans in the Ancient World. Madison, UNITED STATES: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006.

To Read – requested through interlibrary loan.

Gender Study

Campa, Naomi. “Kurios, Kuria and the Status of Athenian Women” Classical Journal,

February-March 2019.

Read: Brief history of women’s rights in Ancient Athens in the context of their relationship with their male overseers.

Graybill, Rhiannon Graybill, Giulia Sissa, Bradford A. Kirkegaard, Yii-Jan Lin, Tirzah Meacham, and Kathy L. Gaca. “Male-Female Sexuality.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Read: Outline of sexuality across different periods of history; section on Ancient Greece provides context for gender hierarchies.

Lipka, Hilary, Harold C. Washington, Susan Deacy, Fiona McHardy, John W. Marshall, Marianne Blickenstaff, Mika Ahuvia, and Joy A. Schroeder. “Sexual Violence.” In The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Gender Studies. Oxford University Press, 2014.

Read: Article on the relationship between gender and sexual violence; includes section on the Ancient Greek world.

McClure, Laura. Spoken Like a Woman: Speech and Gender in Athenian Drama. Princeton

University Press, 1999.

Read: In depth analysis of gender within Greek theater with two main sections on Tragedy and Comedy. McClure uses Greek texts to provide context for her argument and seeks to close the gap between women’s actual experience and their portrayal in literature. Central to my research surrounding women in comedy. 

O’Higgins, Laurie. Women and Humor in Classical Greece. Cambridge, UK ; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

To Read – requested through interlibrary loan.

Pomeroy, Sarah B. Goddesses, Whores, Wives, and Slaves: Women in Classical Antiquity. Schocken Books, c1995.

Some Read: Exploration of the portrayal of women in Ancient literature; discussion of the status of women in Greek society and their experience.

Zelenak, Michael. Gender and Politics in Greek Tragedy. Vol. 7. Artists and Issues in the Theater. New York, New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 1998.

Some Read: Chapters 1 & 2. Overview of tragic women across various texts; emphasis on gender roles in Ancient Greece and their influence.

Gender in Aristophanes

Sells, Donald. “The Feminine Mistake: Household Economy in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae.” In Parody, Politics, And The Populace In Greek Old Comedy, 181–208. Great Britain: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2019.

Read: Comments on Aristophanes’ reception of Euripidean Tragic women and the impact on the portrayal of female characters in Thesmo.

Taaffe, Lauren. Aristophanes and Women. Routledge, 1993.

Read: In depth analysis of women in Aristophanes’ plays. Taaffe has been useful so far in helping to bring in specific aspects of the Ancient Greek gender binary in the context of Comedy as a whole.

Hannah Kolzer’s Categorized Bibliography

Primary Sources 

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of helpful commentaries about the Thebaid. Most of the ones that exist are single book commentaries—I’ll add those to this list as I decide which sections I’ll be examining in the thesis.  I’m relying on the Loeb texts for the Latin and the translation by Joyce because I find it clear and accurate. 

Statius, P. Papinius. Statius, Thebaid 8. Edited by Antony Augoustakis. First edition. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press, 2016.

  • Planning to write about a section from book 8, the scenes in the Nemean grove. The commentary will be helpful. 

Statius, P. Papinius. Thebaid: A Song of Thebes. Translated by Jane Wilson Joyce. Masters of Latin Literature. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008.

  • Very nice translation with helpful introduction and overviews of each book. Also commentary on her translation.

Statius, P. Papinius. Thebaid, Volume I: Thebaid. Translated by Jeffrey Henderson. Accessed October 20, 2022.

Statius, P. Papinius. Thebaid, Volume II: Thebaid. Translated by Jeffrey Henderson. Accessed October 20, 2022.

  • This and the above are the Loeb text—I’ll be using this version of the latin text for close reading.

Theory About Landscape 

I’m doing a lot of reading in this field, some of which is not going to be super helpful in actually completing this project. Here is a list of the things that I hope will be helpful, or at least that I hope to be able to incorporate into the background of the project.

Bachelard, Gaston, Richard Kearney, and Mark Z. Danielewski. The Poetics of Space. Translated by Maria Jolas. Reprint edition. New York, New York: Penguin Classics, 2014.

  • I love this piece and I’m really hoping to be able to work it into the project somewhere. Specifically concerns emotional attachment within the built environment. I think this will help shed light on the affective quality of scenes where cities are sacked or sacred spaces defiled. 

Cosgrove, Denis. “Prospect, Perspective and the Evolution of the Landscape Idea.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 10, no. 1 (1985): 45–62.

  • This article criticizes the way “landscape” is used in humanistic geography, claiming that it’s not a particularly useful term. It’s interesting food for thought as I dig myself deeper into the terms and theories I’m planning to use, “landscape” among them.

Heidegger, Martin. “Building Dwelling Thinking.” In Poetry, Language, Thought, translated by Albert Hofstadter, 145–61. New York: Harper & Row, 1971.

  • Can’t write about space and existence without mentioning this. Most of the other theory in this section relies on Heidegger in some way, so I figured I’d put this in the pile. This is certainly the piece by him that’s most useful for understanding relation to —“being-in”—environment.

Lefebvre, Henri. The production of space. Oxford, OX, UK ; Blackwell, 1991.

  • Again, foundational work on physical existence, especially the way reality is reconstructed in art and literature and the psychological implications of those processes. Also I just like the piece and want to engage with it more.

Tuan, Yi-fu. Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1977.

Tuan, Yi-fu. “Space and Place: Humanistic Perspective.” In Philosophy in Geograhy, edited by Stephen Gale and Gunnar Olsson. Theory and Decision Library. Dordrecht: Springer, 1979.

  • This and the above were the keys to the idea for this project.

Landscape and Classics/Landscape and Statius

This is a broad category that contains works that engage with landscape studies and the theories of geography and space that I’m working with while also being about classics texts in general or Statius more specifically.

Felton, Debbie. Landscapes of Dread in Classical Antiquity: Negative Emotion in Natural and Constructed Spaces. Taylor & Francis Group, 2020.

  • The essays in this book use psychoanalytic theories of emotions, as well as other more modern frameworks related to affect to isolate dread as an emotion (separate from anxiety and fear), and to examine ancient texts for evidence of that feeling. It focuses specifically on the landscapes (yes, using the term according to Tuan’s theories) in ancient texts that evoke dread. The second half of this book is basically no use to me, but the first two sections (“Evoking Dread in Early Greek Literature” and “Anxiety and Dread in the Roman Literary Landscape”) are very interesting. Especially in relation to Statius’ Thebaid, the analysis of Homer will be very useful as a hunting ground for tips and tricks on analyzing the landscape of a piece of epic poetry.

McInerney, Jeremy, and Ineke Sluiter. Valuing Landscape in Classical Antiquity: Natural Environment and Cultural Imagination. Vol. 393. Mnemosyne. Supplements. Boston: BRILL, 2016.

  • This is useful in that it focuses on cultural context and aesthetics generally. IT will help me understand the landscape scenes in terms of the contemporary literary context.

Newlands, Carole. “Statius and Ovid: Transforming the Landscape.” Transactions of the American Philological Association (1974-) 134, no. 1 (2004): 133–55.

  • This is interesting because it’s a different, more literary and less philosophical approach to reading landscape in Statius. 

Reitz-Joosse, Bettina, Marian W. Makins, and C. J. Mackie. Landscapes of War in Greek and Roman Literature. Bloomsbury Classical Studies Monographs. London ; Bloomsbury Academic, 2021.

  • This uses a lot of the theory that I’m using, though its scope is very broad.

Spencer, Diana. Roman Landscape: Culture and Identity. Greece & Rome. New Surveys in the Classics ; No. 39. Cambridge, U.K. ; Published for the Classical Association by Cambridge University Press, 2010.

  • The introduction here has a lot of helpful vocabulary words defined, as well as a general overview of landscape theory as it’s developed across time. The book is in general concerned with aesthetics and landscape as they feature in Classical literature. It relies on a lot of the same theories as the volume above, including Tuan on landscape. This has been very helpful as initial reading, and has pointed me toward many other helpful sources. The chapters of the book are wide-ranging, some being helpful and relevant while others are less so. There’s a chapter in here about Statius, (“Statius, landscape and autarky: between authenticity and delight,”) which I haven’t read yet, but which I will soon. I imagine it will be relevant.

Scholarship about Statius in General

It’s important to know some of the context of the time Statius was writing in. I hope that these pieces will inform my readings even if I don’t end up writing a whole lot about the information they contain.

Dominik, William J., Carole E. Newlands, and Kyle Gervais. Brill’s Companion to Statius. Leiden, UNITED STATES: BRILL, 2015.

  • Helpful context about author and time period.

Ganiban, Randall T. Statius and Virgil: The Thebaid and the Reinterpretation of the Aeneid. Cambridge, UNITED KINGDOM: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

  • Relationship between Statius and his literary tradition: how much of the qualities of his work are particular to his writing? Does that matter in interpreting it? 

Garofalo, Laura L. “Anachronism and Artifice: Cultural Retrospection in Book 2 of Statius’ Thebaid.” Classical Philology 115, no. 2 (April 2020): 227–41.

  • Particular to the Thebaid, but not concerned with landscape. Again, context for Statius which might help me read more into the themes I notice in my work.

Kozak, Adam. “Deforestation, Metapoetics, and the Ethics of War in Statius’s Thebaid 6.” TAPA 150, no. 2 (2020): 449–71.

  • Interesting because it investigates destruction of landscape along with broader ethics of war. This could maybe also fall under the “Landscape and Statius” category, but its scope is a little more broad so I put here instead. 

Manuwald, Gesine, Astrid Voigt, and Franco Montanari. Flavian Epic Interactions. Berlin/Boston, GERMANY: De Gruyter, Inc., 2013.

  • General information about the literary tradition of the time Statius was writing, particularly as the literature had to do with the government.

McNelis, Charles. Statius’ Thebaid and the Poetics of Civil War. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

  • Dealing with ethics and the general themes of the work—but still in the realm of poetics, which makes me think of Bachelard. 

Newlands, Carole Elizabeth. Statius, Poet between Rome and Naples. Classical Literature and Society. Bristol, UK: Bristol Classical Press, 2012.

  • Biographical account of Statius. Will be helpful background and might be part of my thesis introduction. Also has a very thorough bibliography which may be helpful.

Alexander’s Categorized Bibliography

Category: Background: Dogs in War (1)

Forster, E. S. 1941. “Dogs in Ancient Warfare”. Greece & Rome. 10. 30: 114-17.

Forster includes a list of citations of historical moments in which dogs were used in warfare. This is a great source for framing dogs in the Ancient Greek world from a military perspective.

Category: Background: Dogs in Vases (3)

Oakely, John H. 2020. A Guide to Scenes of Daily Life on Athenian Vases. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 8 all either have pictures vases depicting canine interactions with Athenians, or else discussions on trends of such depictions, all of which will provides insight to the role of dogs in day-to-day-life for Athenians, which is a crucial piece of context for my work. I intend to include many of these pictures, if I am able to legally, in an appendix to my thesis so that they will not disrupt the flow of thought presented in the paper, although I will address them in footnotes.

Johnson, Helen M. 1919. “The Portrayal of the Dog on Greek Vases”. The Classical Weekly. 12. 27: 209-213.

This article does an excellent job of parsing out information from Greek vases, which is the next best thing for me other than being able to view all of the same vases myself. Oakley’s collection is a good start, but this will broaden my access to the knowledge obtained on dogs through vases.

Pevnick, Seth D. 2014. “16 Good Dog, Bad Dog: A Cup by the Triptolemos Painter and Aspects of Canine Behavior on Athenian Vases” in Athenian Potters and Painters III. Oakley, John H. (ed). Oxbow: 155-164.

Category: Background: Cynegetica (3)

Nemesianus. Cynegetica. 103-239.

Although this is a Roman source, it deals with real processes of rearing and training dogs, and is therefore a tangible cultural source for the role of hunting dogs.

Pseud-Oppian. Cynegetica.

This is another treatment of dog-hunting and will be a good source to compare to the Roman perspective provided by Nemesianus

Xenophon. Cynegeticus.

Perhaps the most well-established ancient book on dog-hunting, I would be shocked if this were not full of information on the role of dogs in hunting, as well as breeds and general Greek perceptions of dogs.

Category: Dogs in Narrative (7)

Frisch, Magnus. 2017. “ἦ μάλα θαῦμα κύων ὅδε κεῖτ᾽ ἐνὶ κόπρῳ: The Anagnorisis of Odysseus and His Dog Argos (Hom. Od. 17, 290–327)”. Literatūra. 59: 7-18.

This isn’t a very good paper from the perspective of intriguing original contributions, but it does an excellent job of joining together elements of scholarly discussion on dogs in the Odyssey, specifically the Argos episode, which makes it useful for connecting threads of scholarly work.

Faust, Manfred. 1970. “Die Künstlerische Verwendung von χύvn ‘Hund’ in den homerischen Epen”. Glotta. 48: 8-31.

This is cited a lot in related articles I am exploring and seems important, but it is only in German! I have to find a way to read it…

Köhnken, Adolf. 2003. “Perspektivisches Erzählen im homerischen Epos: Die Wiedererkennung Odysseus: Argos”. Hermes. 131. 4: 385-396.

This is cited a lot in related articles I am exploring and seems important, but it is only in German! I have to find a way to read it…

Beck, William. 1991. “Dogs, Dwellings, and Masters: Ensemble and Symbol in the Odyssey”. Hermes. 119: 158-167.

Beck argues that dogs are intimately tied to their masters in character and fate, and reflect their households. In particular, he places Argus as a reflection of Odysseus, his sickness linked to the suitors’ invasion and his death linked to their slaughter. The notion that Argus reflects Odysseus holds weight: Argus’ skill and speed mirror Odysseus’ and in leaving Argus behind to serve the household, Odysseus leaves a piece of himself as an extension and metaphorical anchor linking him to his home land.

Scodel, Ruth. 2005. “Odysseus’ Dog and the Productive Household”. Hermes. 133. 4: 401-408.

Scodel goes deep into the Argos episode, noting its initiation of the sequence of recognitions and the focus on how it affects Odysseus. Viewing this as the first recognition meshes interestingly with the perspective of Argos as a reflection of Odysseus, so that this becomes an episode about remembering what he left behind and the state it is in because he left it, especially when he could have returned years earlier. First, Eumaeus’ dogs set the focus on the threats awaiting Odysseus; then Argos sets the tone for the loss and destruction he is to find.

Murnaghan, Sheila. 1987. Disguise and Recognition in the Odyssey. Lexington Books.

I have not found a way to access this book without purchasing it, but it seems to be a good source for recognition scenes to arm me with the necessary understanding to analyze Scodel’s ideas of the Argos scene as the beginning of the recognition scenes.

Homer. Odyssey. 10.188-219, 10.229-243, 13.184-440, 14.31-38, 16.1-7, and other selections.

I will explore the dogs of Alcinous, the wolves in the Circe episode, Eumaeus’ dogs, the Argos episode, the dog brooch, canine insults, dogs in simile, and potentially other topics to be determined.

Category: Blame and Praise (6)

Homer, Iliad. Selections

I will explore dogs on the battlefield, dogs in simile, Priam’s dogs, Achilles’ peculiar relationship with dogs, dogs at Patroclus’ funeral, Helen’s self-proclaimed “bitch”-facedness, and potentially other topics to be determined.

Scott, John A. 1948. “Dogs in Homer”. The Classical Weekly. 41. 15: 226-228.

Concerned with the difference in canine depiction across Homeric epics, Scott makes two points: the environment of war is “little adapted to show the better side of dogs” and dogs in the Iliad are often praised as symbols of bravery and triumph. Scott’s claim that the environment holds explanatory power over any potential dichotomy between epics has the air of circumstantial apology and the inherent submission to the presence of such a dichotomy ultimately detracts from their argument, especially since Argus was not much better off than the war dogs. I believe this can be salvaged by noting that dogs in the Iliad are praised only when associated to mortals or gods, allowing a reading consistent with Beck’s ideas.

Hainsworth, J. B. 1961. “Odysseus and the Dogs”. Greece & Rome. 8. 2: 122-125.

Hainsworth is interested in the dogs in the swineherd scene, particularly in Odysseus sitting down. He gives some explanations for this method, citing both ancient and modern sources. This brought my attention to the idea of blame implied if the dogs had harmed Odysseus, which indicates a sense of responsibility in mortal-canine associations, to present a negative counterbalance to the presentation of praise teased out from Scott.

Semonides of Amorgos. 7.

This unflattering compilation of comparisons between women and animals feeds directly into the discussion of canine traits as a fault, particularly in women. Such associations seem to be consistent with the surface-level negative aspects of Helen’s self-characterization.

Hesiod. Work and Days. 67-68, 78-80, 703-705, and potentially others selections.

I will discuss the description of Pandora’s mind as κύνεον in her divine creation, and the implications of such associations to the character of Pandora, women more broadly, and dogs. It would be especially interesting to compare her to “bitch-faced” Helen.

Wolkow, B. M. 2007. “The Mind of a Bitch”. Hermes. 3: 247-262.

Wolkow discusses the description of Pandora’s mind as being κύνεον, rejecting the explanation of curiosity often postulated in connection to Psyche in Apuleius, and instead connecting it to thievery and deceit, drawing a particular association to the “bad wife” in lines 703-705. I am not entirely convinced that their analyses are necessarily disjoint from curiosity playing a role, and would like to see if there are other associations between dogs and curiosity.

This is not a complete list of sources that I have looked at, but it is near complete, and I will add the rest soon.

George’s Categorised Bibliography

So for my categorized bibliography there were three major categories that I think things fit into:

  1. Texts on homosexuality in the period the Priapea come from.
  2. Texts on homosexual themes in/surrounding the Priapea.
  3. Texts on the Priapea which do not necessarily talk about homosexuality.
  1. Texts on homosexuality and related subject areas in the period the Priapea come from.
  • Williams, Craig A. 2010. Roman homosexuality. 2d ed. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press

– This text was extremely useful for an overview on Roman ideas about homosexuality. A conglomeration of previous sources that have existed, as well as research drawn directly from ancient texts themselves, this text is renowned for being one of the greatest sources of information about Roman homosexuality. Certain chapters were more or less relevant to my thesis, but almost all were relevant to the main themes I am hoping to incorporate.  The most relevant chapter was chapter 4, “Effeminacy and Masculinity”. This chapter was particularly helpful as it has enabled me to understand more about the concept of masculinity, which I have identified as a key point within my thesis. The text is clearly aimed at an audience with some prior knowledge of Roman texts, but does not presuppose previous knowledge of Roman homosexuality. A new subject to me within the book was chapter 2 on “Greece and Rome”. I had previously learned a little about Roman homosexuality, but had no example to which I could compare it, so having this chapter was invaluable in widening my scope of knowledge. This text alone is enough to give me a good understanding of the social context of homosexuality in the time of the Priapea, and I believe it will work well with other more focused resources to help me apply this knowledge specifically to the Priapea.

  • Dutsch, Dorota; Suter, Ann. 2015 Ancient Obscenities: Their Nature and Use in the Ancient Greek and Roman Worlds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 9780472119646

– The content of this paper is fairly self-explanatory, in that it is about the different words that were considered obscenities in the ancient world. This is helpful in understanding more the language of the Priapea, and the different connotations of them, as well as the connotations of their use in general.

  • Cantarella, Eva. 2002. Bisexuality in the Ancient World. United Kingdom, Yale University Press.

– Like Williams’ Roman Homosexuality, this is a great overview of male sexuality in the ancient world. It talks about the flexibility of sexual attraction, as well as some of the ramifications of male on male desire.

  • Fletcher, K. F. B. 2017. Catullus’ ‘ATM’: The Word Order of Carmen 16.1 and the Roman Hierarchy of Sexual Humiliation. Classical Philology 112, no. 4: 487-492

– This paper talks about the pairing of ‘pedicabo’ and ‘irrumabo’ in Catullus 16, and compares this to the usage of it in the Priapea. It makes an interesting argument about the significance of the word order, in the spreading and contact with faecal matter.

  • Adams, J. N. 1990. The Latin Sexual Vocabulary. JHU Press.

– This book was really useful for helping with the various words used in the poems for the different sexual acts, as well as the different words for sexual organs and orifices.

  • Richlin, A. 1978. Sexual Terms and Themes in Roman Satire and Related Genres. Ph.D. Dissertation, Yale University.
  1. Texts on homosexual themes in/surrounding the Priapea.
  • Richlin, Amy. 1992. The garden of Priapus: Sexuality and aggression in Roman humor. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press-

– This books deal principally with the humorous interpretation of sexual violence in Ancient Rome. It brings in multiple examples from authors such as Ovid and Catullus to show the way in which the Roman audience thought about sexual violence, particularly in ‘unnatural’ circumstances. Particularly important to me is the discussion of Priapus that occurs throughout, and how he plays a role in this. Obviously, to most readers in the modern day the sexual violence that is synonymous with Priapus is horrific. However, it must be acknowledged that the Romans had very different reactions to it, and what we could consider as a prime example of sexual violence and dominance in a purely negative light could instead be considered humourous in a strange sort of way, especially when it comes to the negative representations of homosexuality. Although this book was not the most useful for my purposes, considering I am not focusing on humor within the Priapea, it is important for me to have a wider context of the thoughts and feelings of the Romans, and how they would have reacted to the work. Also very useful was Appendix 2, on Roman homosexuality. Although this appendix can by no means cover the full scope of Roman homosexuality, it is  good starting point and overview to some of the key topics. These topics will be further discussed in other readings that make up my bibliography.

  • Young, Elizabeth Marie. 2015.  The Touch of the Cinaedus: Unmanly Sensations in the Carmina Priapea. Classical antiquity 34.1: 183–208
  1. Texts on the Priapea which do not necessarily talk about homosexuality.
  • Callebat, Louis. 2012. Priapées. Collection des universités de France. Série latine, 402. Paris: Les Belles Lettres. ISBN 9782251014623
  • Goldberg, Christiane. 1992. Carmina Priapea : Einleitung, Übersetzung, Interpretation und Kommentar. Heidelberg: C. Winter, Universitätsverlag.
  • Elomaa, Heather. 2015. The Poetics of the ‘Carmina Priapea’. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing.

– This paper also really helped with the actual language of the Priapea, as well as helping me to appreciate the language more. Even though it is not what I’m focusing on in my paper, it is still helpful as background knowledge.

  • Hunt, Ailsa. 2011. Priapus as wooden god: confronting manufacture and destruction. Cambridge Classical Journal, vol. 57, pp. 29-54.

– This paper talks about some of the different interpretations of Priapus, and talks a lot about the wooden figures of Priapus that were common in Ancient Greece and Rome.

  • Charilaos N., Michalopoulos. 2018. Disease, Bodily Malfunction, and Laughter in the Priapea. Illinois Classical Studies, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 420–37.
  • Howard M., Jackson; E. Murgia, Charles. 1996. Notes on Problems in the Text of ‘Carmina Priapea.’ Materiali e Discussioni per l’analisi Dei Testi Classici, no. 37, pp. 245–70.
  • Radford, Robert S. 1921. The Priapea and the Vergilian Appendix. Transactions and Proceedings of the American Philological Association, vol. 52, pp. 148–77.
  • Grewing, Farouk. 1995. Priapean Poems. The Classical Review, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 31–33.
  • Hooper, Richard. 1999. The Priapus Poems: Erotic Epigrams from Ancient Rome. United States, University of Illinois Press.
  • Miguel Mora, Carlos de. 2008. Catulo en los Carmina Priapea. MOM Éditions 38, no. 1: 83–98.
  • Clairmont, R. E.. 1983. Carmina Priapea (edition, With Comparison Of Manuscripts, Bibliography). ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection.
  • Thomason, R. F. (1929). The Priapea And Ovid: A Study Of The Language Of The Poems. ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection.

– This paper was extremely helpful for a general overview of the language of the Priapea, and helped me to understand more the complexity and beauty of the language within them.

  • Uden, J. 2010. The Vanishing Gardens of Priapus. HSCP 105: 189-219
  • Uden, J. 2007. Impersonating Priapus. AJP 128: 1-26.

Layla’s Categorized Bibliography

Demonization and Chaos: This category provides with information on demonization and the idea of chaos in ancient Greece, Rome, and Egypt.

Bergmann, Claudia D. Childbirth As a Metaphor for Crisis: Evidence from the Ancient Near East, the Hebrew Bible, and 1QH XI, 1-18. Berlin/Boston, GERMANY: De Gruyter, Inc., 2008.

The idea that birth is something that is chaotic and disruptive also translates over to the uterus. 

Bhayro, Siam, and Catherine Rider. Demons and Illness from Antiquity to the Early-Modern Period. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2017.

This contains information on later concepts of demonization that might relate to the spell in the PGM. The spell in the PGM describes a cosmogonic womb while also using the words “Amen.” Later descriptions of demonization would be relevant.  

Faraone, Christopher A. “The Rise of the Demon Womb in Greco-Roman Antiquity.” In Finding Persephone: Women’s Rituals in the Ancient Mediterranean, edited by Maryline G. Parca and Angeliki Tzanetou, 154–64. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2007.


Pazuzu amulets in ancient Mesopotamia protected newborns and mothers from Lamashtu. I saw connections with these amulets possibly to the uterine amulets.

Klimkeit, Hans-J. “Spatial Orientation in Mythical Thinking as Exemplified in Ancient Egypt: Considerations toward a Geography of Religions.” History of Religions, n.d., 16.

The idea of demonization is connected to the idea of something being out of place so this article is relevant in thinking about special thinking within the mythological cosmos, especially when connecting the idea of chaos, demonization, and personifications of the uterus.

Lucarelli, Rita. “Illness as Divine Punishment: The Nature and Function of the Disease-Carrier Demons in the Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts,” Demons and Illness from Antiquity to the Early-Modern Period, 53–60. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2017.

This article gives a brief overview of Egyptian beliefs about disease. It explains the concept of demons in ancient Egypt as lower gods who lived in a liminal space and did the more powerful gods bidding. This article makes key points about the nature of demonism in ancient Egypt which align with the nature of the womb. This article also mentions the psychological benefits of womb amulets for the women who use them as mentioned by medicinal and magical practitioners in ancient Egypt. This will help situate my argument that there is an assertion of control over the illness and womb in this amuletic practice, albeit not for every person, but for some.

Smith, Jonathan Z. “Birth Upside down or Right Side Up?” History of Religions 9, no. 4 (May 1970): 281–303.

This article talks about the act of birth as one of the most disruptive things to order which would connect to demonization and chaos while also connecting to the womb itself because birth is ultimately a potentiality of the womb itself. The womb makes birth and the disruption of order possible.

Warren, Meredith J. C. Food and Transformation in Ancient Mediterranean Literature. Atlanta, UNITED STATES: Society of Biblical Literature, 2019.

This article talks about taste and consumption as being a transformative and transportive process that allows one to cross boundaries and travel to another place. This article specifically talks about Persephone eating pomegranate in the underworld. The uterus can consume and taste as a transportive process that can connect to the uterus’ agency to move and as Freidin states cross boundaries. This would connect with the idea of being out of place as well because the uterus is crossing boundaries and therefore, becoming more demonic.

Zeitlin, Froma I. “Signifying Difference: The Case of Hesiod’s Pandora.” In Playing the Other: Gender and Society in Classical Greek Literature, 53–86. Women in Culture and Society. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press, 1996.

Zeitlin discusses many things in her chapter on Hesiod, but the main things relating to my project are her ideas surrounding the jar of Pandora as a uterus, the uterus or Pandora being both of Plenty and Poverty, and the consumption of women (being lazy in Hesiod). The womb on the amulets is often portrayed as cupping vessels and jars in a few instances. Consumption is one of the agencies of the womb that I will be discussing in my paper. Pandora and the womb having the ability to be both satiated or plenty and lacking is in alignment with ideas of desire in Plato’s Symposium and the womb as something that can have hunger and desire – possibly sexual desire as a general concept.

Magic: This category provides general background information on ancient magic as well as more specifically amulets.

Bonner, Campbell. Studies in Magical Amulets / Chiefly Graeco-Egyptian. University of Michigan Studies. Humanistic Series, v. 49. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1950.

This is the first comprehensive study of magical gems published. All scholarship on amulets pull from Bonner. He has some foundational ideas and observations regarding womb amulets.

Boschung, Dietrich, and Jan N. Bremmer. The Materiality of Magic. Vol. 20. Morphomata. Paderborn: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2015.

Budge, E. A. Wallis. Amulets and Superstitions: The Original Texts with Translations and Descriptions of a Long Series of Egyptian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Hebrew, Christian, Gnostic, and Muslim Amulets and Talismans and Magical Figures, with Chapters on the Evil Eye, the Origin of the Amulet, the Pentagon, the Swăstika, the Cross (Pagan and Christian), the Properties of Stones, Rings, Divination, Numbers, the Kabbâlâh, Ancient Astrology, Etc. New York: Dover Publications, 1978.

Dasen, Véronique. “Amulets, the Body and Personal Agency.” In Material Approaches to Roman Magic, edited by Adam Parker and Stuart Mckie, 2:127–35. Occult Objects and Supernatural Substances. Oxbow Books, 2018.

Dasen argues that womb amulets were evidence of “the mastery that Roman-era women aimed at having over their own body.

———. “Healing Images. Gems and Medicine.” Oxford Journal of Archaeology, no. 33.2 (2014): 177–91.

———. “Probaskania: Amulets and Magic in Antiquity.” In The Materiality of Magic, edited by Dietrich Boschung and Jan N. Bremmer. Germany: Wilhelm Fink, 2015.

Edmonds, Radcliffe G. Drawing Down the Moon: Magic in the Greco-Roman World. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2019.

This provides an overall framework for magic in the ancient world and is an excellent reference material for my research on womb amulets that deals with aspects of healing. Edmonds includes a chapter dealing with healing and demons in which he discusses the demonization of illness and the exorcist qualities of the amuletic practice. I will be able to use these ideas for my research and use this book as a guide for amuletic practice and other types of magic in the ancient world.

Faraone, Christopher A. The Transformation of Greek Amulets in Roman Imperial Times. 1st ed. Empire and After. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018.

Faraone includes information about womb amulets in this book. His main argument looks at the tradition of amulets over time and argues that amulets evolved into a more durable material that survives the archaeological record, but that there is evidence of the tradition of amuletic practices before the emergence of carved magical gems.

Kotansky, Roy. Greek Exorcistic Amulets. Brill, 1995.

Martínez, Isabel Canzobre. “Magical Amulets User’s Guide: Preparation, Utilization and Knowledge Transmission in the PGM.” In Magikè Téchne, edited by Emilio Suárez, Miriam Blanco, Eleni Chronopoulou, and Isabel Canzobre, 1st ed., 177–92. Formación y Consideración Social Del Mago En El Mundo Antiguo. Dykinson, S.L., 2017.

This article postulates as the different uses of amulets in general, provides a definition for amulets, and how one might have handled the amulet or performed certain rituals with the amulet. The author analyzes the PGM to come up with these modes of use.

Mirelman, Sam. “Chapter 17: Mesopotamian Magic in Text and Performance,” 343–78. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2018.

Sfameni, Carla. Magic In Late Antiquity: The Evidence Of Magical Gems. Brill, 2010.

This article gives a lot of background information on magic and the magic of amulets in general. It has information on Ouroboros being a division between chaos and an ordered world (a figure that is on the womb amulets). Sfameni mentions womb amulets were used to encourage and discourage procreation. This is useful for discerning the different elements of cultures and influences of magic on the amulets. She argues for syncretism or a combination of different cultures and influences on the amulets. “Syncretism is not a confused mixture of dissimilar elements; rather it means the use of materials from different cultural contexts that are interpreted in a new and original way” (463).

Shandruk, Walter Michael. “A Computational Approach to the Study of Magical Gems.” PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 2016. (Humanities Division/ Classics).

This thesis includes statistical analysis of womb amulets and some of the voces magicae on the amulets as well.

Vitellozzi, Paolo. “Relations Between Magical Texts and Magical Gems: Recent Perspectives.” In Bild Und Schrift Auf “magischen” Artefakten, edited by Sarah Kiyanrad, Christoffer Theis, and Laura Willer, 1st ed., 181–254. De Gruyter, 2018.

Vitellozzi compares the recipes for magical amulets in magical texts and the magical amulets themselves. She argues that there is evidence for interactions between the text and the physical amulets or that the texts acted as guides or instructions. While this is not the definitive case, we should not completely rule out interaction at all. There is much variation within the interpretations of the amulets so as to suggest personalization so that the text was not followed explicitly. This will explain the variation within the womb amulets that I am looking at.

Medicine: This category includes background information on medicine in the ancient world generally and more specifically as it might inform interpretations of these womb amulets.

Audouit, Clémentine. “Women’s Intimacy: Blood, Milk, and Women’s Conditions in the Gynecological Papyri of Ancient Egypt.” In Women in Ancient Egypt, edited by Mariam F. Ayad, 381–94. Revisiting Power, Agency, and Autonomy. The American University in Cairo Press, 2022.

I have a lot of information about the Greek texts on women and disease, so this is a text on the textual sources related to women’s health in Egypt.

Baker, Patricia A. The Archaeology of Medicine in the Greco-Roman World. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Dasen, Véronique, and Sandrine Ducaté-Paarmann. “Hysteria and Metaphors of the Uterus in Classical Antiquity.” In Images and Gender: Contributions to the Hermeneutics of Reading Ancient Art, edited by Silvia Schroer, 220:239–61, ill. pl. 18. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis. Fribourg (Suisse): Academic Pr. Fribourg, 2006.

Dean-Jones, Lesley. Women’s Bodies in Classical Greek Science. Oxford University Press, 1994.

Fallas, Rebecca. “Infertility, Blame and Responsibility in the Hippocratic Corpus.” Ph.D., Open University (United Kingdom). Accessed October 15, 2022.

I argue that the personification of the uterus places blame on the uterus for the ailment, which may be infertility if the amulets are treating infertility. This article is useful for determining agency and blame.

Flemming, Rebecca. “The Invention of Infertility in the Classical Greek World:” Bulletin of the History of Medicine, 2013, 565–90.

———. “Women, Writing and Medicine in the Classical World.” The Classical Quarterly 57, no. 1 (2007): 257–79.

Gonzalez, Samantha Rose. “Examining Health Inequity in Ancient Egypt.” Master of Arts, Missouri State University, 2021.

King, Daniel. “Galen.” In Experiencing Pain in Imperial Greek Culture, edited by Daniel King, 0. Oxford University Press, 2017.

Marino discusses pain and disassociation from pain as a possible interpretation of what is happening with these amulets. I go further and say that there is agentive reclamation and personification of a specific organ for interaction. The disassociation of pain on a certain level still has to occur for this personification or the organ to happen.

King, Helen. Hippocrates’ Woman: Reading the Female Body in Ancient Greece. London ; Routledge, 1998.

Mattern, Susan P. “Panic and Culture: Hysterike Pnix in the Ancient Greek World.” Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 70, no. 4 (October 1, 2015): 491–515.

This article takes a look at womb suffocation as an anxiety attack.

Nifosi, Ada. Becoming a Woman and Mother in Greco-Roman Egypt: Women’s Bodies, Society and Domestic Space. Routledge, 2019.

This was specifically recommended by Professor Freidin at the University of Michigan. It will give me a chance to look at how the amulet might have had different meanings according to culture and environment.

Riddle, John M. Contraception and Abortion from the Ancient World to the Renaissance. Harvard University Press, 1992.

Looking into contraceptives more might prove useful for considering uses of the amulets outside of birth or conception, Tsastou has an article that recommends the amulets as erotic desire amulets, which I disagree with; Marino argues that they are for the general health of the uterus and menstrual pain; it is difficult to pin down and this is a discussion that I need to consider more in my research and summary of scholarship.

Rowlandson, Jane, and Roger S. Bagnall. Women and Society in Greek and Roman Egypt: A Sourcebook. Cambridge University Press, 1998.

I am using this as a broad reference book for any questions about Greco-Roman Egypt and women I might have.

Steinert, Ulrike. Concepts of the Female Body in Mesopotamian Gynecological Texts. Brill, 2018.

The Mesopotamian form of medicine is similar in agentive structure and conception to the agency, control, and personification of the womb. There is also a Pazuzu amulet which is popular in the Neo-Assyrian/Neo-Babylonian periods in Mesopotamia that wards off the demoness Lamashtu who brings death to newborn children and trouble during birth. Amulets were used in Mesopotamia for reproductive health, so I thought it was a relevant comparison.

Methodology and Theories:

Buckser, Andrew. “Institutions, Agency, and Illness in the Making of Tourette Syndrome.” Human Organization 68, no. 3 (2009): 293–306.

This article places the agency of illness and the patient within institutions. It looks at how institutions affect the agency of the patient and illness. This methodological theory is useful to me because I may consider the different institutions involved in using these womb amulets.

Geurts, Kathryn Linn. “Bodily Ways of Knowing: Anthropological and Historical Approaches to Affect and the Senses.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History, March 28, 2018.

There is a branch of archaeology related to the senses and when dealing with object agency more specifically the way in which the object directs the sense is important. I thought that this would be a useful methodology to pull from as a result.

Gosden, Chris. “What Do Objects Want?” Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory 12, no. 3 (2005): 193–211.

This is a helpful article for my work on object agency and examining the amulets as a conduit through which a human may control their disease and organ through appeals to the divine. This article discusses looking at objects as influencing the practices and culture of humans rather than the other way around. It uses huts in Roman Britain as an example of how the landscape and materials and houses influenced the cultural practices and social family structure. This is a more object-centered approach, looking at the agency of the objects as having intentions and desires. My project focuses on the agency of the womb on these amulets and the function of the amulet in that process of healing. The agency of the amulet connects to the agency of the womb in so far as the object dictates the ways that humans may interact with it and assert control in this discourse between the personified womb and the divine.

Hamilakis, Yannis. “Sensorial Assemblages: Affect, Memory and Temporality in Assemblage Thinking.” Cambridge Archaeological Journal 27, no. 1 (2017): 169–82.

This is going to be difficult to do with the womb amulets as we do not have archaeological context for the amulets themselves. We can think about them as assemblages themselves though.

Hay, M. Cameron. “Suffering in a Productive World: Chronic Illness, Visibility, and the Space Beyond Agency.” American Ethnologist 37, no. 2 (2010): 259–74.

This article details the struggles of chronic illness and enacting agency so as to be a productive member of society. It deals with agency in two ways: discussing the agency that the patient asserts over the illness and a lack of agency in life that the illness takes from them which devalues them in society. This article doesn’t explore the ways in which patient narratives may change given individual mindsets. The primary way that this connects to womb amulets is that the amulets allow the patient to have agency over the illness and to be constantly doing something in response to the disease by wearing it. It is hard to know whether this would result in fulfilled and sustained agency over the disease in the ancient world given the individualistic nature of amulets and beliefs. Still, there is an assertion of control within the relationship between the amulet and the organ.

Malkowski, Jennifer A., J. Blake Scott, and Lisa Keränen. “Rhetorical Approaches to Health and Medicine.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication, December 22, 2016.

This gives me ideas on how to approach studying medical humanities and the consequences of rhetoric in medicine. This can help me conceptualize the act of personification and the inscriptions on the amulets. This also connects my analysis to modern-day conceptions of illness and disability.

Witmore, Christopher. “Archaeology and the New Materialisms.” Journal of Contemporary Archaeology 1, no. 2 (2014): 203.

Witmore goes over materialism and advocates for it as an approach to objects in the ancient world. Some of this is helpful to think of objects interacting with other objects, yet with womb amulets, it is harder to do since all of the womb amulets except for one do not have archaeological context in order to take this approach. Object agency is more helpful for my project.

Primary Texts:

Breasted, James Henry, trans. The Edwin Smith Surgical Papyrus. The University of Chicago Press, 1930.

Bryan, Cyril P., trans. Ancient Egyptian Medicine: The Papyrus Ebers. Chicago, Illinois: Ares Publishers Inc., n.d.

Danker, Frederick W., and Hans Dieter Betz. “The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells.” Journal of Biblical Literature 107, no. 2 (June 1988): 348.

Henderson, Jeffrey. “Hippocrates of Cos: Diseases of Women 1.” Loeb Classical Library. Accessed June 21, 2022.

———. “Hippocrates of Cos: Diseases of Women 2.” Loeb Classical Library. Accessed June 21, 2022.

———. “Hippocrates of Cos: Girls.” Loeb Classical Library. Accessed June 21, 2022.

———. “Hippocrates of Cos: Nature of Women.” Loeb Classical Library. Accessed October 15, 2022.

Quirke, Stephen, trans. “Kahun Medical Papyrus.” Digital Egypt for Universities, 2002.

Soranus, of Ephesus. Soranus’ Gynecology. Translated by Owsei Temkin. Softshell Books edition. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Hesiod’s Works and Days

Hesiod’s Theogony

Womb Amulets Under the Microscope: These are articles that specifically mention womb amulets.

Aubert, Jean-Jacques. “Threatened Wombs: Aspects of Ancient Uterine Magic,” 1989, 30.

Dasen, Véronique. “Le Secret d’Omphale.” Revue Archéologique N. S. (2) (2008): 265–81.

———. “Métamorphoses de l’utérus d’Hippocrate à Ambroise Paré.” Gesnerus : Swiss Journal of the History of Medicine and Sciences = Schweizerische Zeitschrift Für Geschichte Der Medizin Und Der Naturwissenschaften 59, no. 3–4 (2002): 167–86.

Faraone, Christopher A. “Magical and Medical Approaches to the Wandering Womb in the Ancient Greek World.” Classical Antiquity 30, no. 1 (2011): 1–32.

Faraone argues that midwives were not involved in the theorizing of the wandering womb. He also catalogs the different developments of the personifications of the womb and interpretations of its ability to move throughout time.

———. “New Light on Ancient Greek Exorcisms of the Wandering Womb.” Zeitschrift Für Papyrologie Und Epigraphik 144 (2003): 189–97.

Freidin, Anna Bonnell. “Animal Wombs: The Octopus and the Uterus in Graeco-Roman Culture.” Classical Philology 116, no. 1 (January 2021): 76–101.

Freidin discusses many things in her article, but mainly discusses the ideas of the uterus as an octopus. She attempts to unpack this iconography of the womb in the guise of an octopus on these uterine amulets and makes connections between the nature of the womb in medical texts and interpretations of the octopus in texts. She explains that the boundary-crossing nature, wetness, behavior, and anatomy of the octopus align with ancient conceptions of the womb. This will be useful for my research because it deals with one of the main depictions of the womb on these amulets and connects to the idea of a personified womb because the womb becomes an animal or octopus that has agency and intention.

———. “Uncertain Beginnings: Childbirth and Risk in the Roman World.” PhD dissertation, Princeton University, 2018. DataSpace (Princeton University Doctoral Dissertations, 2011-2021 / Classics).

This is Professor Freidin’s dissertation which includes chapters on womb amulets.

Marino, Katherine R. “Setting the Womb in Its Place: Toward A Contextual Archaeology of Graeco-Egyptian Uterine Amulets.” PhD dissertation, Brown University, 2010.

This dissertation is the only dissertation on womb amulets that I have discovered. She argues that the womb amulets are not for fertility but mainly for general women’s health or for ailments relating to the uterus. She provides a summary of previous scholarship on womb amulets and systematically goes through the different components of the amulets from the inscriptions to iconography to material. She states that only one of the inscriptions mentions birth and mentions birth as having taken place before the ailment they are trying to cure. She goes through the major divinities included on the amulets and connects them to other things besides birth and reproduction. I think that since the womb is essentially a reproductive organ, including divinities related to reproduction does not automatically mean that the amulet is related to procreation but that the divinities might be included because they have dominion over the reproductive organ and can make it behave. This relates to my project because it provides an overview of everything on the womb amulets and some related sources as well. Marino also goes over the womb as a sentient being or personified being.

Tsatsou, Eleni. “Uterine Amulets: Amulets That Protect the Uterus or That Reinforce Erotic Desire?” In Magical Gems in Their Contexts, edited by Kata Endreffy, Arpád Miklós Nagy, and Jeffrey Spier, 271–82. L’Erma di Bretschneider, 2019.

CONTENT WARNING: sexual assault mentioned in the following blurb

Tsatsou makes many claims throughout the article that paint the amulets in the light of erotic desire. Tsatsou claims that the presence of Seth on the amulets is meant as a threat to the womb and the woman to have sexual intercourse with an individual because of his associations with sexual assault. Tsatsou also claims that the inscriptions calling the womb to “contract” are calling the womb to contract in desire for another. I do not agree with this at all. It is useful to disavow such assertions in scholarship and will be included in my summary of different scholarship in the field at the beginning of my paper.

Misc./Undeveloped Directions: These articles include archaeological exploration of making amulets, adjacent practices regarding the body and organs, and exploration of fumigation in a context other than medicine.

Draycott, Jane, and Emma-Jayne Graham. Bodies of Evidence: Ancient Anatomical Votives Past, Present and Future. Medicine and the Body in Antiquity. London ; Routledge, 2017.

Gwinnett, A. John, and L. Gorelick. “Beads, Scarabs, and Amulets: Methods of Manufacture in Ancient Egypt.” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 30 (1993): 125–32.

Levinson, H., and A. Levinson. “Control of Stored Food Pests in the Ancient Orient and Classical Antiquity.” Journal of Applied Entomology 122, no. 1–5 (1998): 137–44.

This article discusses fumigation methods in ancient Egypt for pest control. Smoke dries things out and this seems to be part of the treatment process. I thought that it might be pertinent to compare some of the fumigation practices and magical curses for pest control in ancient Egypt with some of the medicinal fumigations for the uterus and medicine in general.

Marion’s Thesis Portrait

As might be evident from my Categorized Bibliography, I decided this week that I would switch my thesis topic because I was having a hard time writing even short amounts about Patrick, so trying to write something much longer seemed like it would not go well. I went back to my other initial idea, which I feel I have more passion for and a clearer idea of methodology and specific questions. I am sure I have created an unfortunate amount of extra work for myself, but…oh well.

My thesis is going to be on friendship in letters from and to medieval women. In order to make that incredibly broad topic narrower, I have picked out 5 letters to look at (with wiggle room to look at others if needed). Four of the letters are from abbesses (Bugga, Eangyth, Ecburg, and Lioba) to St. Boniface, and one is from St. Boniface to Lioba. These letters are all from the 8th century CE. Bugga, Eangyth, and Ecburg are from the British Isles, while Lioba is German. St. Boniface himself was a monk and missionary who traveled in the area that is now Germany. He probably had more extensive correspondence with these women, but only small snippets of communication remain.

I chose these letters because they all use the language of friendship to some extent, and they are from women who were in a unique social position (abbesses) that gave them some freedoms unusual of the time (though confined them in other ways), and these women wielded no small amount of power over their particular abbey. However, they are communicating with a male bishop who is of a significantly elevated position compared to them. Since letters are a form of writing that interacts very closely with social relationships, it seems to me the perfect place to explore how friendship was understood and realized in a gendered, religious context and try to find ways to understand how these women occupied the social hierarchy.

In terms of research questions, I am interested in asking these questions:

  • How did conceptions of “friendship” evolve from Classical times to the 8th century CE (and how did Christian conceptions of “friendship” evolve and change?)
  • How was friendship gendered in these letters, and how did women portray and understand their own social position?
  • How did these abbesses use epistolary conventions and forms to communicate and establish relationships with a bishop?
  • How do women express agency in the epistolary mode? Do these letters reveal any ways in which women exercised agency and social mobility?

While, due to the circumstances, I am a bit behind in developing my arguments, I anticipate that I will be building my argument around the use of epistolary conventions as extensions of social hierarchy, but I also want to explore how the epistolary form gives women agency and how these abbesses had power and persuasive ability through their command of letters.

I am most familiar with Eangyth and Ecburg’s letters, which are also the longest. Both of these women make extensive use of Biblical quotation, and Eangyth expands into other medieval and classical works as well. Lioba and Bugga have shorter letters, but they also reveal extensive familiarity with scripture that speaks to a highly literate, learned culture of religious women. All the women also use a variety of particular words (including familial words—“frater”, et al., and friendship words such as “amicitia”) to establish their relationship to Boniface. I am especially interested in examining how the women use language and convention to establish the type of communication and relationship that they will have with Boniface, which is a type of quiet agency that I find interesting.

In the secondary literature, I paid a lot of attention to finding texts about epistolography and specifically Christian letter forms so that I can have a solid grounding for understanding when conventions are being observed and when they are not. I also found a lot of sources relating to friendship, how it was understood, and the language used to discuss it.

Since I made this decision to change recently, I have had less time to discuss with faculty, but I intend to reach out to Professor Conybeare and Professor Mulligan to discuss my ideas.

Marion’s Categorized Bibliography

Primary Sources

Boniface, A Letter from Boniface to Lioba (742-46)

Bugga, A letter from Bugga, abbess (c.720)

Eangyth, A Letter from Eangyth, abbess (719-22)

Ecburg, A Letter from Ecburg (716-20)

Lioba, A letter from Lioba/Leobgytha/Leoba, abbess of Tauberbischofsheim (c.732)

All of these are relatively short letters, which is why I have included several to work from. All the women (Bugga, Eangyth, Ecburg, and Lioba) are known or thought to be abbesses who were writing to St. Boniface, a monk and missionary of importance who was traveling in Germany. All of these letters use language related to friendship and discuss the relationship of these women to Boniface. The letters are often asking for something and have peripheral discussion of the social standing and role of the women writing the letters. 

Historical Background

This section is background information on the historical period (especially women and women’s writing) and Boniface. It is useful for contextualizing the letter in wider historical and religious trends of the time period. 

Bell, David N. 1995. What Nuns Read: Books and Libraries in Medieval English Nunneries. Cistercian Studies Series ; No. 158. Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian Publications.

  • I have not yet found a way to access this book, but I think it would be incredibly useful if I could, and would particularly help understand Eangyth’s letter, which contains a variety of literary allusions beyond the Bible.

Hollis, Stephanie. 1992. Anglo-Saxon Women and the Church: Sharing a Common Fate. Woodbridge, Suffolk [UK] ; Boydell Press.

  • Three out of four of the women whose letters I am pulling from are from modern-day England, and all of them are abbesses, so this provides important background. In particular, the fourth chapter is entitled “4. Confessors and Spiritual Mentors: Hagiographic Ideals and the Boniface Circle, p. 113,” which I have not yet had the opportunity to read. 

Wallace-Hadrill, John Michael. 1971. “A Background to St. Boniface’s Mission.” In England before the Conquest. Studies in Primary Sources Presented to Dorothy Whitelock, edited by P. Clemoes and Kevin L. Hughes, 35–48. Cambridge: Cambridge University Pr. 35-40

  • Short, general background on Boniface. 

Watt, Diane. 2020. Women, Writing and Religion in England and beyond, 650-1100. Studies in Early Medieval History. London ; Bloomsbury Academic.

  • Explores the writings of women (epistolary and otherwise) covering the 8th century CE.

Wilson, Katharina M. 1984. Medieval Women Writers. Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press.


This section is methodological background on the study of letter-writing (epistolography), and includes some articles that are not related to medieval women but provide useful background on the language and conventions of letter-writing as well as methodologies for how to read letters.

Allen, Pauline. 2020. Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form. Cambridge, United Kingdom ; Cambridge University Press.

  • Neil, Bronwen, and Pauline Allen, eds. 2020a. “Letter-Types and Their Uses.” In Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form, 70–93. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ———, eds. 2020b. “Networks and Communities of Readers.” In Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form, 116–43. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • ———, eds. 2020c. “The Christianisation of the Late Antique Letter-Form.” In Greek and Latin Letters in Late Antiquity: The Christianisation of a Literary Form, 24–46. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

All of these are from the same book, but they are the most relevant chapters for the purpose of understanding epistolography and specifically the Christian forms of letters. The chapter “Networks and Communities of Readers” also provides context for how letters were read, passed around, and expected to be read.

Altman, Janet Gurkin. 1982. Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form. Columbus: Ohio State University Press.

Cambron-Goulet, Mathilde. 2017. “Social Performance in Synesius’ Letters.” Phoenix 71 (1/2): 119–37.

  • This article, while about an unrelated author and from a somewhat different period, provides background context about social performance in letters and the tension between private and public common in letter-writing. 

Conybeare, Catherine. 2005. “Spaces Between Letters: Augustine’s Correspondence with Women.” In Voices in Dialogue: Reading Women in the Middle Ages, edited by Kathryn Kerby-Fulton and Linda Olson, 57–72. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.

  • This article is about Augustine, but it discusses the approach of reading “between” letters to find women’s presence and unheard voices, which is an important approach given that women’s writing often does not survive. 

Cünnen, Janina. 1997. “Amicitia in Old English Letters: Augustine’s Ideas of ‘Friendship’ and Their Reception in Eangyth’s Letter to Boniface.” Revista Alicantina de Estudios Ingleses, November.

  • The single most specific piece of writing on one of these letters that I could personally find. 

Gibson, Roy. 2012. “On the Nature of Ancient Letter Collections.” Journal of Roman Studies 102 (November): 56–78.

  • This discusses the idea of a letter collection, and the practice of collecting and publishing a collection of one’s own letters, which was a not-uncommon practice in Rome.

Knight, Gillian R. 2005. “Friendship and Erotics in the Late Antique Verse-Epistle: Ausonius to Paulinus Revisited.” Rheinisches Museum Für Philologie 148 (3/4): 361–403.

  • This article is, again, about a different letter-writer but also delves into the language of friendship and erotics, providing a lot of context that is helpful for understanding how the language of letters can be read closely using the background of accepted forms/conventions.

Morello, Ruth, and A. D. Morrison. 2007. Ancient Letters Classical and Late Antique Epistolography. Oxford: University Press.

  • Ebbeler, Jennifer. 2007. “13 Mixed Messages: The Play of Epistolary Codes in Two Late Antique Latin Correspondences.” In Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography, edited by Ruth Morello and A. D. Morrison, 0. Oxford University Press.
  • Rees, Roger. 2007. “6 Letters of Recommendation and the Rhetoric of Praise.” In Ancient Letters: Classical and Late Antique Epistolography, edited by Ruth Morello and A. D. Morrison, 0. Oxford University Press.

These two sections of “Ancient Letters Classical and Late Antique Epistolography provide grounding in the rhetoric and conventions of letters, thus giving lens through which to view the language of letter-writing and understand how the conventions work to create particular relationships and act within social structures.


This section contains material related to friendship through Classical and Christian forms, which provides an important lens for how to view the letters. 

Jeep, John M. 1998. “Among Friends?: Early German Evidence of Friendship among Women.” Women in German Yearbook 14: 1–18.

  • An article about friendship among women specifically, highlighting another way to look at things beyond the dominant male friendship dynamics of the time period. 

Nawar, Tamer. 2015. “Augustine on the Dangers of Friendship.” The Classical Quarterly 65 (2): 836–51.

  • Discusses the concerns raised in the Confessions about friendship as a barrier to Christian virtue. The Confessions were enormously influential in shaping Christian thought in the late-antique and medieval period. 

Konstan, David. 1997a. Friendship in the Classical World. Key Themes in Ancient History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

These two sections of “Friendship in the Classical World” give background on “amacitia” and how it developed in Rome and then after the Christianization of the empire began. This provides essential background on how ideas of friendship were performed and written about. 

White, Carolinne. 1992a. Christian Friendship in the Fourth Century. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

These book chapters compliment “Friendship in the Classical World” by expanding the cope into Christian friendship but also highlighting some of the conflicts between Classical and Christian ideas of friendship, Christian faith and friendship, and the transition between Classical and Christian. 

Claire’s categorized bibliography

Methodology (apart from the methodology built in to other sources)

Honig, Bonnie. A Feminist Theory of Refusal. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 2021.

  • Feminist methodology reading of Dionysiac text, applicable to Dionysiac hymns and more broadly as a way of feminist rereading 

Johnston, Sarah Iles. The Story of Myth. Harvard University Press, 2018.

  • Creation of characters, how we conceive of divine, how myth is transmitted and received 

Peels-Matthey, Saskia. “Polytheism as Language: A Linguistic Approach to Greek Polytheism.” In Divine Names on the Spot. Peeters, 2021.

  • Application of polythetic categories to the gods themselves, thinking about gods as categories (multiplicity in unity, divinities as mental lexical entries) 

Gender Studies 

Barrow, Rosemary. Gender, Identity and the Body in Greek and Roman Sculpture. Cambridge University Press, 2018.

Brisson, Luc. Sexual Ambivalence: Androgyny and Hermaphroditism in Graeco-Roman Antiquity. The Joan Palevsky Imprint in Classical Literature. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002.

Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. 10th anniversary edition. Ebook Central (Collection). New York: Routledge, 1999.

Halperin, David M. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: And Other Essays on Greek Love. London, UNITED KINGDOM: Taylor & Francis Group, 1989.

Masterson, Mark, Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, and James Robson. Sex in Antiquity: Exploring Gender and Sexuality in the Ancient World. Rewriting Antiquity. Abingdon, Oxon ; Routledge, 2015.

Segal, Charles. “Arms and the Man: Sex Roles and Rites of Passage.” In Dionysiac Poetics and Euripides’ Bacchae, 158–214. Expanded Edition. Princeton University Press, 1982.

Zeitlin, Froma I. Playing the Other: Gender and Society in Classical Greek Literature. Women in Culture and Society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.


Delforge, Vinciane Pirenne, and Gabriella Pironti. “Many vs. One,” October 1, 2015.

Griffin, Jasper. Homer on Life and Death. Clarendon Press, 1983.

Holmes, Brooke. The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece. Princeton: University Press, 2010.

Petridou, Georgia. Divine Epiphany in Greek Literature and Culture. First edition. Oxford Scholarship Online. Oxford: University Press, 2016.

Platt, Verity J. Facing the Gods: Epiphany and Representation in Graeco-Roman Art, Literature and Religion. Greek Culture in the Roman World. Cambridge, UK ; Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Stafford, Emma. Worshipping Virtues: Personification and the Divine in Ancient Greece. ISD LLC, 2000.

Webster, T. B. L. “Personification as a Mode of Greek Thought.” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 17, no. 1–2 (January 1, 1954): 10–21.

Orphic Hymns/Orphic literature 

Chrysanthou, Anthi. “Defining Orphism: The Beliefs, the Teletae and the Writings.” Phd, University of Leeds, 2017.

  • A recent dissertation on Orphism with a helpful literature review, which nicely outlines the Edmonds/Bernabé approaches to Orphism as a category. 

Edmonds, Radcliffe G. First-Born of Night or Oozing from the Slime? Deviant Origins in Orphic Cosmogonies. Brill, 2020.

  • A very helpful article for thinking about why different sources position different figures as cosmogenic deities. Lines up two different types of cosmogonies; material-origin and Night-origin. 

Edmonds, Radcliffe G. Myths of the Underworld Journey Plato, Aristophanes, and the “Orphic” Gold Tablets. Cambridge: University Press, 2004.

  • Potentially useful chapters on the Orphic Gold Tablets and Plato’s Phaedo

Edmonds III, Radcliffe G. Redefining Ancient Orphism: A Study in Greek Religion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.

  • Extremely valuable book. Chapters on methodology and mythology are most important, although there are bits from most chapters that I can use.

Fayant, Marie-Christine. Hymns Orphiques. Les Belles Lettres, Paris, 2014.

  • The main Greek text, with French translation, commentary, and introductions that I am using. 

Furlan, Anna Lucia. “Henotheism in Orphic Sources : Origins, Development and Reception.” Ph.D., King’s College London, 2020.

  • Recent dissertation that has a chapter approaching the Orphic Hymns through a henotheistic lens. Also uses Boyer for methodology.  

Gartziou-Tatti, Ariadni. “The « Orphic » Voyage of the Suitors’ Souls and the Role of Hermes in the Second Nekyia (Odyssey 24, 1-204).” In Ο Επάνω Και ο Κάτω Κόσμος Στο Ομηρικό Και Αρχαϊκό Έπος: Από Τα Πρακτικά Του ΙΓ’ Διεθνούς Συνεδρίου Για Την « Οδύσσεια » : Ιθάκη, 25-29 Αυγούστου 2017, edited by Menelaos Christopoulos and Machi Païzi-Apostolopoulou, 129–61. Ithaki: Kentro Odysseiakon Spoudon, 2020.

  • Possibly helpful comparison between Orphic and Homeric stories. 

Herrero de Jáuregui, Miguel, and Alberto Bernabé Pajares, eds. Tracing Orpheus: Studies of Orphic Fragments; in Honour of Alberto Bernabé. Sozomena 10. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2011.

  • Presents the perspective of Bernabé, who opposes Edmonds’ approach to Orphism. Both Edmonds and Bernabé are mentioned in every literature review I’ve seen. 

       Jáuregui, Miguel Herrero. “The Poet and His Addressees in Orphic Hymns.” (2015): 224-243.

  • Article on the role of Orpheus, Mousaeus, and the gods in the Hymns. 

Meisner, Dwayne A. “Introducing Orphic Theogonies.” In Orphic Traditions and the Birth of the Gods, edited by Dwayne A. Meisner, 0. Oxford University Press, 2018.

  • Seems to be a general overview of the way different Orphic texts describe theogony. Should be useful with First Born of Night

Morand, Anne-France. Études sur les Hymnes Orphiques. Brill, 2015.

  • The only definitive study on the Hymns. Very important. 

Morand, Anne-France. “The Narrative Techniques of the Orphic Hymns.” Hymnic Narrative and the Narratology of Greek Hymns, n.d., 209.

  • Narratological analysis of the hymns in general using Protogonos as a case study.

Ricciardelli, Gabriella. Inni Orfici. Fondazione Lorenzo Valla, 2000.

  • The best translation, but sadly in Italian. Using the commentary as needed. 

West, M. L. The Orphic Poems. Oxford [Oxfordshire: Clarendon Press, 1983.

  • An early but foundational text for the study of Orphism. 

Hymnic literature 

Faraone, Christopher A. “Mixing the Hexametrical Genres of Hymn and Curse in the Longest of the Greek Magical Handbooks (PGM IV 2714-83).” In Hymnen Und Aretalogien Im Antiken Mittelmeerraum: Von Inana Bis Isis, edited by Laurent Bricault and Martin Andreas Stadler, 154:177–94. Philippika. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2021.

Furley, William D., and Jan Maarten Bremer. Greek Hymns: Selected Cult Songs from the Archaic to the Hellenistic Period. Mohr Siebeck, 2001.

  • A really helpful overview of the conventions of hymnic literature, and a lot of specific examples from most of the extant hymns. 

Hymnic Narrative and the Narratology of Greek Hymns. Brill, 2015.

  • Morand’s Narrative Techniques is in this volume, and another about Orpheus as the poet of the hymns.

Janko, Richard. “Homer, Hesiod, and the Hymns: Diachronic Development in Epic Diction.” Cambridge Classical Studies. Cambridge University Press, 1982.

  • Janko is one of the much earlier but very important authors about the genre of hymn. 

Pulleyn, Simon. Prayer in Greek Religion. Oxford Classical Monographs. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1997.

  • Formative text/baseline for hymnic literature, cited regularly by Furley and Bremmer. 

Things I’m experimenting with (Gnosticism, Plato, etc) 

Benitez, Eugenio E. “The Good or The Demiurge: Causation and the Unity of Good in Plato.” Apeiron: A Journal for Ancient Philosophy and Science 28, no. 2 (1995): 113–40.

  • Confusing  

Blanco, María José García, and María José Martín-Velasco. Greek Philosophy and Mystery Cults. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2016.

  • Two helpful chapters about Neoplatonic philosophy in Orphism. 

Fowler, Robert L. “Greek Magic, Greek Religion.” Illinois Classical Studies 20 (1995): 1–22.

Halvgaard, Tilde Bak. Linguistic Manifestations in the Trimorphic Protennoia and the Thunder: Perfect Mind : Analysed against the Background of Platonic and Stoic Dialectics. Brill, 2016.

  • Potential interesting analysis of paradoxical/dualist language in Gnostic texts. 

Primary texts

The Orphic Hymns

Aristotle, Physiognomonica

Euripides, Bacchae

Homer, The Iliad

Porphyry, On Images

Plato, Timaeus

—, Cratylus

—, Phaedo

Thunder, Perfect Mind

Apocryphon of John

Elise’s Categorized Bibliography

Primary sources

The original texts I will be referencing

Folengo Teofilo. Opus Merlini Cocaii Macaronicorum : Totam in Pristinam Formam Per Me 

Magistrum Acquarium Lodolam Optime Redactum. 1521.

Folengo, Teofilo. “Merlini Cocai Poetae Mantvani Liber Macaronices Libri Xvii. Non Ante Impressi 

(1517 Edition).” Open Library, In Aedibus Alexandri Paganini. Inclito Lauredano Principe, 1 Jan. 1970,

Textual analyses

The thoughts of other scholars so I can see the resources they used to analyze Folengo’s writing.

Camerotto, Alberto. “Analisi formulare della Batrachomyomachia.” Lexis 9–10 (1992): 1–54.

Fabbrovich, Emanuele. Merlin Cocai; Studio Critico Con Annessa: Antologia Dei Maccheroni. 1924.

J. P. Wickersham Crawford. “Teofilo Folengo’s Moschaea and José de Villaviciosa’s La Mosquea.” 

PMLA, vol. 27, no. 1, 1912, pp. 76–97. JSTOR, Accessed 9 Sep. 2022.

This article focuses on Spanish receptions of Italian epics in the 16th century. He brings up Lope de Vega’s Gatomachia, which I would like to look at, and Jose de Villaviciosa’s La Mosquea (his primary focus) (Crawford 77). Crawford identifies the fact that the epics of Villaviciosa and Teofilo Folengo are so humorous because they tell the story of a near microscopic war between flies and ants. He says, “All the conventionalities of the epic are present, the invocation to the Muse, the councils, reviews of troops, shipwrecks, hand to hand combats, but everything is reduced to the smallest compass possible” (Crawford 78). I was surprised to read that  someone, in this case literary critic and writer John Addington Symonds, ranks Folengo’s Macaronea as being on par with the very famous epic by Ludovico Ariosto, Orlando Furioso. They are two very different texts. According to Crawford, Folengo is more known for his Macaronea than his Baldus. I do not currently have a sense of which holds more favor since opinions seem to go back and forth, but it is clear that they are his two most well-known texts. According to Villaviciosa, the Moschaea primarily parodies (1) the Æneid, (2) Matteo Maria Boiardo’s 1495 Orlando Innamorato, (3) Francesco Cieco da Ferrara’s Membriano, (4) Tifi Odasi’s 1490 Macaronea, and, most importantly, (5) the Batrachomyomachia.

Marti, Mario. Italica, vol. 34, no. 3, 1957, pp. 182–85. [Review of Le Maccheronee di Teofilo Folengo, 

by E. Bonora].  JSTOR, Accessed 20 Oct. 2022.

Scalabrini, Massimo. “The Peasant and the Monster in the Macaronic Works of Teofilo Folengo.” 

MLN, vol. 123, no. 1, 2008, pp. 179–91. JSTOR, Accessed 9 Sep. 2022.

This text describes fantasy as an element that drives many of Teofilo Folengo’s works, most notably, his Baldus and series of macaronic stories. This fantasy tends to take shape through the combination of incompatible opposites, described by Scalabrini as a sort of “paradoxical and enigmatic logic” (Scalabrini 180). He goes on to state that on account of this mixing of contaminant elements, macaronic Latin is the perfect vehicle for his writing as there is a struggle inherent in his word choices between the conventions of Italian and those of Latin. Most of this paper focuses on Teofilo Folengo’s most well-known work: Baldus. Scalabrini’s title, “The Peasant and the Monster” comes from his discussion of Folengo’s agricultural inclusions reminiscent of Vergil and events in the Baldus in which characters yearn for a beautiful form while staring in the mirror (he describes this as relating to Ovid).


Useful resources to decode Folengo’s macaronics

Burke, Peter. “Hybrid Languages.” Hybrid Renaissance: Culture, Language, Architecture, Central 

European University Press, 2016, pp. 97–112. JSTOR, Accessed 21 Oct. 2022.

Mitchell, B. W.. “Ancient macaronic verse, a correction.” Classical World, vol. XXIV, 1931, pp. 184.

Nova, Alessandro. “Folengo and Romanino: The Questione Della Lingua and Its Eccentric Trends.” 

The Art Bulletin, vol. 76, no. 4, 1994, pp. 664–79. JSTOR, Accessed 21 Oct. 2022.

Teofilo’s Character

The life of Teofilo, including the ways in which he interacted with other people and the places he visited, allowing me to narrow my focus when looking for historical context.

Bernardi Perini, Giorgio. “Vita Di Merlino e Vite Virgiliane.” Quaderni folenghiani. Padova : 

Imprimitur, 1995-1996. 43–54. Print.

Ruggeri, Carmela Russo. Studi Su Teofilo. G. Giappichelli, 2016.

Russell, Anthony Presti. “Epic Agon and the Strategy of Reform in Folengo and Rabelais.” 

Comparative Literature Studies, vol. 34, no. 2, 1997, pp. 119–48. JSTOR, Accessed 21 Oct. 2022.

Historical Context

The events that led up to, occurred during, and followed Folengo’s publication of his volume of macaronic poems.

Bianchi, Massimo Luigi, and Germana Ernst. La filosofia del Rinascimento: Figure e problemi. Roma, 

Carocci, 2015.

Eisenstein, Elizabeth L. The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communications and Cultural 

Transformations in Early-Modern Europe: Volumes I and II. Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Ferroni, Giulio. Storia e Testi Della Letteratura Italiana. Mondadori università, 2011.

Firpo, Massimo, and Fabrizio Biferali. Immagini ed eresie nell’Italia del Cinquecento. Bari, 

Laterza, 2016.

Garin, Eugenio. Rinascite e Rivoluzioni: Movimenti culturali dal XIV al XVIII secolo. Bari,

Laterza, 2007 (ed. orig. 1975).

Pater, Walter, and Matthew Beaumont. Studies in the History of the Renaissance. Oxford University 

Press, 2010.

Petrucci Armando. Libri Scrittura E Pubblico Nel Rinascimento : Guida Storica E Critica. Laterza