Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Graduate School


Modern and Classical Languages, Literature and Cultures

First Advisor

Dr. Leni Ribeiro-Leite


Caeneus, as written in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, is a notable blend of ancient and Hellenistic versions of the myth. Ovid’s Caeneus can be understood as a transgender man, since he was assigned female at birth, but asks for his gender to be changed by the god Neptune, and goes on to live the rest of his life with the body, appearance, and social roles of a man. Ovid incorporates Caeneus’ trans identity with his use of grammatical gender endings for Caeneus, using masculine gender for Caeneus except when discussing his pre-transition childhood, or when the centaurs address him mockingly while fighting. This paper argues that Caeneus is not an exception to the Greco-Roman world, but rather Ovid is incorporating commonly held views of biology and gender from his own culture. His character can be analyzed, using modern queer theory methodology, in conjunction with research done on traditional third and fourth genders in other cultures. The goal is to better understand and conceptualize the ancient Greco-Roman world and its views on gender through literature and Ovid’s writing itself. By using these elements together, a broader model for discussing gender and gender variance in the ancient world can be proposed. Ovid’s model of Caeneus shows a functional and respectful way of discussing gender variant people, using literary and grammatical elements created by other authors.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)