Non-Comedy and Non-Romance: Rape in the Citizen Marriage

Mackhai Nguyen : Latin, Comparative Literature, English

Mentor: Kathleen McCarthy, Classics

Mackhai Nguyen's project focuses on Roman comic plays and Greek romance novels, two genres that share the narrative ending of the citizen marriage. Citizen marriage endings in these genres are at times generated by rape and similar forced sexual encounters. This common structure allows Roman comedies and Greek romances to be analyzed in relation to this plot element. Mackhai argues that certain stories, which he will analyze for his project, attempt to distance themselves from the way in which rape is generated by and generates this trope. He will examine how these stories differentiate themselves by criticizing, downplaying, and marginalizing the role of rape in the pervasive citizen marriage in Roman comedies and Greek romances. Rather than reflecting the cultural mores of the time period, these stories can be read as arguing against the problematic conceptions of rape and marriage in the ancient world.