‘Hideous Progeny’: The Role of Monsters and Hybrids in Latin Metapoetry

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kraus, Christina


This dissertation explores the role of the monster and the hybrid in Latin poetry of the Augustan period. It asserts that these creatures symbolize the embodied literary work through close parallels between their bodies and the body of the texts in which they appear. The opening two chapters (Part I) tie monsters to ancient literary critical disputes. The first examines the connection between monstrous forms and critical terminology. The second chapter, through case studies on the recusatio and many-mouth motif, considers the relationship between the monster’s voice and the political voice of the text. Part II of the dissertation is concerned with the aesthetics of hybridity and monstrosity. The third chapter examines cyborg women, especially the elegiac puella. By identifying these women as hybrid creatures, textual assertions about their beauty are also assertions about the aesthetic power of monstrosity. The fourth chapter presents the heroic body as a monstrous one by examining the traditions of presenting heroic flesh as super-human. Heroic bodies are at once destined for death and semi-invulnerable; thus, they mirror the text’s vulnerability as a physical object and its capacity for immortality. They are also desirable bodies, despite their hybrid status. In this manner the body of the hero is correlated, through its monstrosity and durability, to the epic poem in which it appears.

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