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Durham University

Department of Classics and Ancient History


Publication details for Professor Peter Heslin

CoverHeslin, P.J. (2005). The Transvestite Achilles: Gender and Genre in Statius' Achilleid. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Author(s) from Durham


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 behavior: 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.


Sample Chapter