Date of Award

1-1-2009

Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Department

Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Paul Allen Miller

Abstract

In most studies that discuss Horace and Catullus, scholars have differentiated between the two poets in style, subject matter, and polish. However, while the two poets are divergent in many ways, this paper argues that both undergo the same, repetitive process of abjection, in particular, with the abject monstrous-feminine. Barbara Creed, drawing on Julia Kristeva's Powers of Horror and Lacanian psychoanalytic thought, uses the term "monstrous-feminine" to investigate abject, monstrous females in popular horror films.

This paper utilizes Creed's work on the monstrous-feminine to discuss two abject figures in Latin poetry, Lesbia of the Catullan corpus, and Canidia, a witch who appears in Horace's early poetry. Both female figures are constructed as monsters within the poetry that exude devastating heat, cross accepted boundaries, and evoke horror in their respective poets. As abject, Lesbia and Canidia are both revolting and fascinating, making it impossible for Horace or Catullus to indefinitely exclude them because the poets define themselves as subjects through the process of abjection.

Although Horace utilizes Canidia's exaggerated monstrosity as a means to critique the focus of Catullus' poetry, Lesbia, in doing so he engages in the same process of abjection with Canidia as he aligns himself with her when he defines himself and his craft, not only in the Epodes where she appears, but throughout all of his works.

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