Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Comparative Literature

First Advisor

Paul Allen Miller


Invective Drag: Talking Dirty in Catullus, Cicero, Horace, and Ovid, studies the relationship between invective texts and masculine self-fashioning. Using gender theory, rhetorical theory, and philology, I examine how invective speech in these authors operates outside the normative social parameters of Roman masculinity.. I examine the invectives of Catullus, Cicero, Horace, and Ovid to argue that in the speaker’s aggressive articulation of masculinity, he often ends up effeminizing or queering himself as he attempts to make his opponents radically other. I show that the hypermasculine speaker of the invective genre utilizes a strategy I term “invective drag,” the adoption of nonnormative modalities of self-presentation and expression with regard to social status, gender, and sexuality This work examines the ways in which the invective genre gives the authors of this study a platform to perform masculinity in ways often contradictory to the gender norms operative in their respective cultures. This research contributes to ongoing debates surrounding the function of invective in Roman society. For the last few decades, Roman invective has largely been studied in terms of how it affects social mores and politics, and only recently has been linked to the invective speaker’s self-presentation. Of those studies, mine is the first to trace a rhetorical invective strategy through multiple authors to discuss invective performance’s role in masculine subjectivity. Through this new framework, other works can be reexamined to reveal a more critical engagement with persona construction in invective and force a reexamination of gender performance in the ancient world.


© 2015, Casey Catherine Moore