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Skip to main content. You're using an out-of-date version of Internet Explorer. Log In Sign Up. The first articles devoted exclusively to women in the palliata appeared in the s; at the same time critics working on other aspects of comedy began offering insights into theatrical functions of female characters.
Such utterances, thanks to their potential for both asserting and subverting the rules of gendered grammar, maintain and eventually modify the system of gendered roles. The process of creating gendered identities in the palliata depends on a very similar semantic relationship between the taxonomy of stock types and the individual dramatis personae. With each character, the playwrights both reiterate and inflect the general rules of the system, suggesting new options.
The system of stock types in Roman comedy is built along the criteria of gender, social status and age. Moreover, numerous plots both Greek and Roman also feature lost citizen girls temporarily cast as meretrices, traditionally termed pseudohetaerae. Her closest match is the parasite, a young man ready to render all kinds of services in exchange for food. He might gratify his patron sexually, as the discreet double entendre in the Menaechmi suggests.
However, neither the parasites nor the pueri delicati, slaves with whom the male citizens occasionally have sex, play significant roles in the plots as objects of 5 On gender as performance, see, for example, Butler There is, however, a significant systemic exception in Plautine comedy: I first offer a reading of two Plautine comedies that place the lena in the limelight: These plays offer an opportunity to examine the reasoning of both the typical pimp-mother Cleareta in the Asinaria and the nameless lena in the Cistellaria and that of one exceptional lena who acts against her type Melaenis in the Cistellaria.
More important, 7 Liljia On the prostitute Phronesium posing as a puerpera, see Dutsch In foregrounding these diverse figures I hope to draw attention to ways in which Roman comedy inflects and undermines contemporary sexual stereotypes.