The Iphis Incident: Ovid’s Accidental Discovery of Gender Dysphoria

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This article examines what the author argues is Ovid's accidental discovery of gender dysphoria with recourse to an incident in the Metamorphoses. The author argues that Ovid has accidentally discovered gender dysphoria as evidenced through the character of Iphis in Book IX of the Metamorphoses. It is unlikely that Ovid could have imagined the ramifications of such a “discovery”; however, the “symptoms” described in his narrative match exceedingly closely with modern, clinical definitions. These are explored in the article along with how Ovid may have, through personal experience, been able to achieve such a penetrating, albeit accidental, insight. The wider, epistemological context of this topic is considered alongside Ovid's personal circumstances which may have contributed to his unique understanding of a condition that modern science has only recently identified.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)95-116
Number of pages22
JournalAthens Journal of History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2021


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