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Mollis - Craig Williams (Brooklyn College CUNY)

mollis (mollitia, mollire, etc.), ‘soft’ : denoting a lack of full manliness in men, across authors and genres

1. Often there is an explicit lexical contrast with uir (uirilis, uirtus, etc.) and/or an association with adjectives like muliebris or femineus

Caes. B.G. 7.77.5 animi est ista mollitia, non uirtus, paulisper inopiam ferre non posse

Cic. Tusc. 2.27.2 lamentantis inducunt fortissimos uiros, molliunt animos nostros

Cic. Tusc. 2.41.16 uir natus ad gloriam ullam partem animi tam mollem habebit, quam non meditatione et ratione conroboret ?

Cic. De orat. 3.41.7 mollis uox aut muliebris aut quasi extra modum absona atque absurda

Cic. Epist. ad Brutum 17.1.8 cum enim mollius tibi ferre uiderer quam deceret uirum

Sall. Iug. 82.2.5 uir egregius in aliis artibus nimis molliter aegritudinem pati

Cels. De medic. 2.1.13 maximeque in mollioribus corporibus, ideoque praecipue in muliebribus

Ov. Met. 4.385-6 exeat inde / semiuir et tactis subito mollescat in undis

Ov. Ex Ponto 1.3.31-2 siue pium uis hoc, seu uis muliebre uocari, / confiteor misero molle cor esse mihi.

Quint. I.O. 5.9.14 fortasse corpus uulsum, fractum incessum, uestem muliebrem dixerit mollis et parum uiri signa

2. Castration, represented as the ultimate case of unmanliness

Lucan 10.133-14 infelix ferro mollita iuuentus / atque exsecta uirum

Stat. Silv. 3.4.68-71 haud ulli puerum mollire potestas / credita, sed tacita iuuenis Phoebeius arte / leniter haud ullo concussum uulnere corpus / de sexu transire iubet

References to the galli at, for example, Ov. Fast. 4.243 : molles. . . ministri ; Sen. Ag. 686 : molles. . . uiros (note the effect of the semantic paradox)

3. Associations with sexual practices or identities ? Men labelled as molles are associated with a wide range of specific behaviors, implied or asserted, with both male and female partners.

3a. Associated with a female sexual partner : Sen. Contr. 2.1.6 madentem unguentis externis, convulneratum libidinibus, incedentem ut feminis placeat femina mollius, et cetera quae morbi non iudici sunt ; Ov. Ep. 9.72 ne pigeat molli subcubuisse viro

3b. Associated with a male sexual partner : Juv. 9.38 (hinting at the receptive role in anal intercourse) quod tamen ulterius monstrum quam mollis auarus ? (cf. κίναιδος [37] and pathicus [130]) ; Mart. 3.73 (hinting at fellatio) dormis cum pueris mutuniatis / et non stat tibi, Galle, quod stat illis. / quid uis me, rogo, Phoebe, suspicari ? / mollem credere te uirum volebam, / sed rumor negat esse te cinaedum.

3c. Phaedrus’ humorous aetiology for women he calls tribades and men he calls molles, both of whom are marked by a perverted sexual pleasure (libido). (In Roman Homosexuality, I argue that this is not an aetiology for female and male homosexuality, but for masculine women [tribades] who find pleasure in penetrating others, whether female or male, and for feminine men [molles] who find pleasure in being penetrated, whether by males or females).

Phdr. Fab. 4.16 : tribadas et molles mares / quae ratio procreasset . . . / tum semisomno corde et errore ebrio / adplicuit uirginale generi masculo / et masculina membra adposuit feminis. / ita nunc libido prauo fruitur gaudio

See G. Williams, “The Meanings of Softness : Some Remarks on the Semantics of mollitia,” Eugesta 3. (> Texte intégral / Full text pdf)


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Référence électronique / Electronic reference
Mollis - Craig Williams (Brooklyn College CUNY), EuGeStA Lexicon, 15 May 2014
http://eugesta.recherche.univ-lille3.fr/spip.php ?article108