Masculus,-a,-um – Barbara Gold (Hamilton College)

Masculus,-a,-um – Barbara Gold (Hamilton College)

Masculus, – a, um an adjective denoting a diminutive of mas, “male” or “masculine.” Sometimes used as a substantive meaning “a male” or a “a person marked by masculine qualities.”

  1. Denoting a male person or a person of uncertain sex/gender who displays masculine qualities (as in Hor. Epod. or Livy below) :

Apul. Met. 5.31 : an ignoras eum masculum et iuuenem esse ?
Hor. Epod. 5.41 : non defuisse masculae libidinis Ariminensem Foliam
Livy 31.12.6 : incertus infans natus, masculus an femina esset
Mart. 11.43.11 : parce tuis igitur dare mascula nomina rebus
Phaed. 4.15 (16).12-13 : adplicuit uirginale generi masculo,/et masculina membra adposuit feminis.
Plaut, Cist. 4.2.39 : bona femina et malu’ masculus uolunt te
Prop. 2.15.27-28 : exemplo iunctae tibi sint in amore columbae/masculus et totum femina coniugium
Sen, Ep. 97.2 : picturae . . . masculorum animalium

  1. Worthy of or befitting a man ; manly, vigorous, bold, virile (sometimes applied to women, as in Horace Ep. 1.19 or Passio Perp. below) :

Apul. Met. 6.5 : quin igitur masculum tandem sumis animum ?
Apul. Met. 7.6 : ingenio masculo
Hor. Carm. 3.6.37-8 : rusticorum mascula militum/proles
Hor. Ep. 1.19.28 : mascula Sappho
Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis 10.7 : facta sum masculus
Quint. IO 5.12.20 : indicium masculi et incorrupti, ne dicam grauis et sancti uiri (referring to qualities that eloquentia does not have, with the adjectives gravis et sanctus given as close synonyms, in reference to the speaker [uir])

  1. Used of objects/plants/other natural products, or in engineering, of connections (as in Vitruvius) :

Ovid Med. Fac. 94 : mascula tura (of frankincense)
Pliny HN 2.100 : hoc (solem) esse masculum sidus accepimus
Pliny HN 12.61 ; 13.55 ; 20.171 ; 24.37 ; 31.48 ; 37.92 (of plants, trees, soil)
Pliny HN 37.92 (of gems)
Verg. Ecl. 8.65 : mascula tura (cf. Pliny HN 12.61)
Vitr. 9.8.11 : used of a cardo, “hinge” or two things fitted together. A mascula cardo (opp. femina cardo, into which another thing is inserted) is one thing inserted into another

There is also the adjective masculinus, -a,-um related to masculus,-a,-um (and arising from it). Masculinus seems to describe people, body parts or the sex that is more specifically masculine : Phaed. 4.15 (16).12-13 : masculina membra, “male genitals” ; Apul. Met. 7.6 : in masculinam faciem reformato habitu ; of masculine gender, Quint. IO 1.5.61 : masculina Graeca nomina

In several instances, masculus is used in contexts indicating sexual ambiguity. So in Passio Perpetuae et Felicitatis 10.7, Perpetua dreams that she fights a contest in the arena and becomes masculus (where a female verb ending is used but the masculine form of masculus). Livy 31.12.6 refers to a strange portent, the birth of a Sabine child of uncertain sex : incertus infans natus, masculus an femina esset, and follows with a reference to ambiguo sexu. Horace (Ep. 1.19.28) calls Sappho mascula Sappho, using the feminine form of mascula (in the context of her using the meter of Archilochus). And in his Epodes (5.41), Horace refers to the masculae libidinis of the witch Arimensian Folia. This seems to mark Folia’s unnatural character and her propensity for acting contrary to normal gender expectations.

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Masculus,-a,-um – Barbara Gold (Hamilton College), EuGeStA Lexicon, 15 May 2014