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The Monstrous World

Corporeal Discourses in Phlegon of Tralles’ «Mirabilia»


Julia Doroszewska

Revenants, oracular heads, hermaphrodites, sex-changers, human-animal children, multiple pregnancies, births, body features … This is just a sample of subjects that Phlegon of Tralles explored in the 2nd century AD in his "Mirabilia". This study identifies the common motifs of Phlegon’s text and determines his criterion of selection: using the cultural category of "monster", it argues that Phlegon exclusively collected stories of either hybrid creatures or human "record-breakers" with respect to scale, size and multiplicity of their corporeal features. In this light, the "Mirabilia" appear to be a book on monsters and the monstrous that corresponds with a general fondness for marvels and oddities during the Roman imperial period.

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Bibliographic Information published by the Deutsche Nationalbibliothek The Deutsche Nationalbibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliografie; detailed bibliographic data is available in the internet at

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Doroszewska, Julia, 1981- The monstrous world : corporeal discourses in Phlegon of Tralles' Mirabilia / Julia Doroszewska. pages cm. – (Warsaw studies in classical literature and culture ; Volume 4) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-3-631-65626-6 (alk. paper) – ISBN 978-3-653-04870-4 (e-Book) 1. Phlegon, of Tralles. Book of marvels. 2. Curiosities and wonders–Early works to 1900. 3. Monsters–Folklore. I. Title. PA4273.P3B6634 2015 398.20938–dc23

2015017509 This publication was financially supported by the Institute of Classical Studies of the University of Warsaw.

ISSN 2196-9779 ISBN 978-3-631-65626-6 (Print) E-ISBN 978-3-653-04870-4 (E-PDF) E-ISBN 978-3-631-69579-1 (EPUB) E-ISBN 978-3-631-69580-7 (MOBI) DOI 10.3726/978-3-653-04870-4 © Peter Lang GmbH Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften Frankfurt am Main 2016 All rights reserved. PL Academic Research is an Imprint of Peter Lang GmbH.

Peter Lang – Frankfurt am Main · Bern · Bruxelles · New York · Oxford · Warszawa · Wien

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