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On Phoenix and Eunuchs: Sources for Meletius the Monk's Anatomy of Gender
Abstract

Meletius Monachus's De natura hominis 24, on male gender physiology, concludes with twenty-one lines about female differentiation, gender dissonance, eunuchs, and an appeal to the as a natural paradigm for the difference between male and female. This paper considers the medical and patristic sources for this passage in light of the treatise as a whole, Meletius's Byzantine identity, and his tentatively ninth-century context. Late antique Christian texts on the phoenix-bird and the eunuch as they related to gender and heresy may inform Meletius's contrast between "natural" and castrated eunuchs. This text offers a unique and little-studied witness to the broader dialogue of gender in religion and medicine in the ancient world.