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The Roman vir is always strong on the battlefield, strong in the forum, and strong in the bedchamber. This is the image that is passed down to us by the writers of the Late Republican and Early Augustan periods, such as Vergil, Cicero, and Sallust. This paper argues that this view was not a universal representation of the daily life of the Roman populace, but was a literary and philosophical ideal. This reading of Catullus’ works adds balance to such a monolithic portrayal of masculinity in the classical Roman world, by presenting many distinct literary personae with differing attitudes, and by identifying perspective shifts within the corpus. Specifically, Catullus 16 is fiercely invective against those who would question the speaker’s masculinity, Catullus 5 demonstrates reciprocity between Catullus and Lesbia, Catullus 51 and 75 suggest the speaker’s passivity towards his female lover, and Catullus 51 displays all three tones when dealing with a male romantic interest. These performed selves of Catullus’ personae represent a series of more flexible masculine constructions and deepen our understanding of the range of Roman masculinity.

Graduate Institution: Truman State University (MA – English)
Undergraduate Institution: Truman State University (BA – Classics & English)
Eta Sigma Phi Affiliation: Eta Zeta Chapter