By P. J. Heslin
As we persist with Achilles' metamorphosis from wild boy to demure lady to lover to hero, Statius brilliantly illustrates a sequence of contrasting codes of habit: female and male, epic and elegiac. this primary full-length examine of the poem addresses not just the narrative itself, but in addition units the parable of Achilles on Scyros inside a vast interpretive framework. The exploration levels from the reception of the Achilleid in Baroque opera to the anthropological parallels that experience emerged to provide an explanation for Achilles' transvestism.
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Additional resources for Cambridge The Transvestite Achilles
The feminization of Achilles is presented most starkly in a sequence of scenes in which the sleeping hero is surveyed as a passive sexual object by a stream of people, both male and female. In Act 1, Scene 17, Achilles wanders alone in the royal gardens, where he waits for Deidamia, praising the beauty of the ﬂowers and surroundings. He falls asleep, and when in the next scene Deidamia arrives, she decides to let him sleep and departs oﬀ-stage. In the following scene Polycastes arrives and admires the beauty of the sleeping Pyrrha.
46 The text of Achilles is available in Fuller (1983: vol 2, 221–75, 389–92). 47 The review of the Daily Courant of 16 February 1733 as quoted in the Gentleman’s Magazine of February 1733 (vol 3, 78). 48 Achilles Dissected: Being a Compleat Key of the Political Characters in that new Ballad Opera, Written by the Late Mr. Gay (Burnet, 1733), signed by Atex [sic] Burnet. ” One peculiarity of the pamphlet is that it mentions frequently and prominently, as an exemplary model for Gay’s epic travesty, a certain parody of Pope’s translation of the Iliad, a work called Homerides: or, Homer’s First Book Moderniz’d.
57 Achilles, Prologue 19–24. 58 On Metastasio, see Heller (1998: 563). 59 The posthumously printed Achilles has an epigraph from Ovid’s Metamorphoses referring to the Scyros story, on which see Noble (1988: 185). 60 Noble (1988: 212, n 27) claims that the last two lines have to do with contemporary criticism of Pope’s Homer as “prosaic,” which seems impossibly obscure and irrelevant, even if one accepts the mistaken proposition that Pope himself wrote the prologue. 22 the transve st i te ach ille s have a familiarity with Statius and Ovid in order to appreciate fully the spirit of his engagement with the heroic traditions of opera seria and of HomericVirgilian epic, but not everyone understood what he was doing.