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The Transvestite Achilles
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  • Page extent: 370 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.655 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 873/.01
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: PA6698 .H47 2005
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Statius, P. Papinius--(Publius Papinius)--Achilleis
    • Ovid,--43 B.C.-17 or 18 A.D.--Influence
    • Achilles (Greek mythology) in literature
    • Transvestites in literature

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521851459 | ISBN-10: 0521851459)

DOI: 10.2277/0521851459

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 (Stock level updated: 02:09 GMT, 28 November 2015)


Statius' Achilleid is a playful, witty, and open-ended epic in the manner of Ovid. As we follow Achilles' metamorphosis from wild boy to demure girl to lover to hero, the poet brilliantly illustrates a series of contrasting codes of behaviour: male and female, epic and elegiac. This first full-length study of the poem addresses not only the narrative itself, but also sets the myth of Achilles on Scyros within a broad interpretive framework. The exploration ranges from the reception of the Achilleid in Baroque opera to the anthropological parallels that have been adduced to explain Achilles' transvestism. The study's expansive approach, which includes Ovid and Ovidian reception, psychoanalytic perspectives and theorizations of gender in antiquity, makes it essential reading not only for students of Statius, but for students of Latin literature, and of gender in antiquity.

• Provides the first book-length study of Statius' unfinished epic, the Achilleid • Constructs a broad interpretive framework for the unusual myth of Achilles on Scyros • Adopts an interdisciplinary approach of interest to students of Latin literature, myth, gender in antiquity and Baroque opera


Introduction; 1. Opening nights at the opera 1641–1741; 2. The design of the Achilleid; 3. Womanhood, rhetoric, and performance; 4. Semivir, Semifer, Semideus; 5. Transvestism in myth and ritual; 6. Rape, repetition, and romance; 7. Conclusion.


'… a welcome addition to the ever-increasing number of scholarly works devoted to elucidating the subtle politics and sophisticated poetics of imperial Latin epic … animated throughout … a significant contribution to Latin literary studies in this stimulating volume.' A. M. Keith, Victoria College

'[The author's] profound familiarity with classical literature enables him to approach the issue from a wide perspective and pay attention to versatile conventions and details. Through structural and linguistic analysis the author is able to expose Statius' subtle and humoristic treatment of classical literature. … Heslin's profound orientation on the subject enables the reader to consider the Achilleid not only as a successful epic narrative, but also as a reflection of the whole range of classical literature preceding the imperial era - a respectful nod to the great classical authors, and a witty parody of genre-related clichés. … All in all, Heslin's survey is an admirable pursuit to fill the void concerning the study of the Achilleid by classical scholars.' De novis libris iudicia

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