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Ving-cinq ans après

Enrica Asquer
Anna Bellavitis
Isabelle Chabot

Identités – familles – masculinités

The history of masculinity, beyond plurality

Domenico Rizzo


The paper first dwells on the successful category of « hegemonic masculinity » developed by sociologist Raewyn Connell, highlighting some of its heuristic pitfalls, such as the difficulty in conceptualizing complexity and internal contradictions of masculinities. A similar limit is highlighted in the approach of historian George Mosse and his followers.

A proposal is then submitted to the readers: the heuristic value of “fragility” as a long lasting multifaceted dispositive in the history of Western masculinities, in contrast to the adoption of the historiographical category of “crisis”, which is almost common sense in contemporary societies.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Scott 1986, p. 82.

1In a 1986 seminal essay on gender as a category of historic analysis, Joan Scott observed that: “culturally available symbols evoke multiple (and often contradictory) representations”. The examples set in support of this statement were “Eve and Mary as symbols of woman in the Western Christian tradition, but also myths of light and dark, purification and pollution, innocence and corruption”1.

  • 2 For the more general limits of its reception, especially in Italy, see Fiorino 2016, p. 154-66; a c (...)

2This is an observation that, despite the outstanding success of the essay in which it was contained, may not have had the attention that it probably deserved2. In that theoretical framework, the symbolic level constituted one of the four elements to be considered as interwoven in the study of gender; the other three were the normative models, the social institutions and the individual and collective identities.

3The normative models – Scott maintained – draw from the multiplicity of the symbolic meanings, trying to limit and contain their metaphorical possibilities through a clear-cut definition of masculinity and femininity. And yet, those possibilities are never entirely obliterated.

4Applying this concept to the study of masculinity means reaching out to the possibility of acknowledging not only plurality – by now common sense in both the humanities and social sciences, even more so in the most advanced historiography – but also the inner inconsistencies marking its representations.

5It seems to me that this possibility is precluded to some methodological approaches that have exerted considerable influence on the current studies of masculinity in several disciplinary fields, and especially where the object of research was somehow the symbolic level from the perspective of virility, that is, the set of manly virtues that represent the foundation of a position of power, between men and women, but also between men.

6 One may say, in fact, that, in predominant approaches, identities have often been inferred according to the power exerted, and that a taxonomy of masculinity has been compiled on the basis of the distribution of said physical and symbolic power. Following this logic, identities ended up being reified and preceding social action, up to a point where the analysis was confined to a secondary and subsidiary role; and last, but not least, they resulted in looking more coherent then they really are.

  • 3 The volume, an Oxford University Press publication, was immediately translated into many languages; (...)

7In a sense, this was the direction of the historiographical reference to George L. Mosse, especially after the publication of The image of man. The creation of modern masculinity in 19963. As is well known, it is a book that discusses the long research on totalitarian regimes and their cultural origins, around the history of masculinity between the Nineteenth and the Twentieth centuries.

  • 4 Mosse 1982 (it. ed. 1984).

8Mosse does something brilliant on a conceptual level (already implied in his earlier Nationalism and Sexuality, published a few years before)4: he overturns the perspective of the stories where the subjects – Jewish, gipsies and homosexuals – are made subordinate by the stereotypes that operate in the European societies, shifting the focus on the others, the stigmatisers, stuck to a binding stereotype of normative masculinity.

9We doubt, however, that stereotypes work well both in their negative acceptation – that is, as a stigma attached to a social group – and in their positive one, as a collective imperative of being. In the latter case, in fact, the stereotype would result into becoming a granite category that identifies masculinity both with the necessity to conform and with the fear of ending up on the other side of the fence, that of the non-men, of the oppressed, crushed by a model that delegitimises them.

  • 5 It is a temptation, I believe, that crosses à la Mosse Benadusi 2005.

10Being his starting point the subjects who really were oppressed on the basis of a negative stereotype (his terminus ad quem are the Nazi lagers), Mosse cannot shake off the idea that equally real must be the positive incarnations of such a model. Yet, it is not certain that those who read reality through the prism of a stereotype and exert power through it will then actually embody its specular reverse. Such a way of thinking would lead to the reification of both, even the stereotyped subjects, inferring their identity from the distribution of power5.

11 It should be kept in mind that Mosse is true to his title when he treats a stereotype, mostly visual, as an ideology and not as an informative principle of social praxis. The book, however, is innervated from the idea that the stereotype is still a fact, and as such it influences human perception, actions and reactions, and the self-perception that social actors may have. Albeit with a sense of measure unknown to his epigones, Mosse does not fail to suggest that reality ends up being influenced by stereotypes.

  • 6 Mosse 1996, p. 4.

12This seems to me a limit that many later studies share, including the Italian ones, which, more or less directly, hark back to Mosse’s work. The stereotype becomes an informative criterion for gender praxis, and this is an outcome all the more disastrous as, in the reception of The Image of Man, the already weak traces were definitely lost of a choice the American historian had made at the very beginning. The choice of selecting one of the many representations of masculinity that, despite being different, coexisted in Europe between the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 20th. A selection made by drawing attention to the one representation rightfully considered by Mosse the most politically relevant, that is able to shape the horizon of public and national meanings, instead of dealing with an “ideal such as that of the sensitive man which informed the romantic movement at the same time that the building blocks of the dominant modern masculine stereotype were put into place”6.

13Now, a loss of awareness towards this choice leads to confusing the part with the whole and to assuming virility as the pivot of the entire social and cultural history of contemporary masculinity.

  • 7 In Italy, see for example Bellassai 2011. On the French side, Vigarello – Corbin − Courtine 2011 − (...)

14Identifying virility as the sole basis for male power brings along a whole historiographical corollary of some relevance: the history of the nineteenth and twentieth century’s masculinity would be a history of the crisis of that model; a history of the male reactions to reiterated assaults, each time brought by women’s and homosexuals’ instances as well as by the cultural and social changes, starting with the second industrial revolution up to the post World War II economic boom7.

  • 8 See Hämmerle − Opitz-Belakhal 2008.

15As is known, there is a lively debate over the “crisis of masculinity” construct in European historiography. For some, it is just a mere ideological construct, interesting as long as studied as an object; others, on the contrary, recognize the construct some heuristic dignity8. Personally, I am more inclined towards the first option: a phenomenon of deep crisis in male subjectivities at a given time might be plausible only supposing the existence of a shared monolithic masculinity, almost as if it were a mask from the Commedia dell’Arte, whereas it probably also is in the fluidity and inconsistency of socially legitimizing male features that the reasons of its enduring power should be sought.

  • 9 Connell 1995.

16However, it was another book coeval to Mosse’s that exerted even more considerable influence on the conceptualization of the topic, both in the humanities and in social sciences. I am naturally talking about Masculinities by Australian sociologist Robert W./ Raewyn Connell9. Its success among historians was connected to the functionality of a category, adopted in its most simplified terms: “hegemonic masculinity” vs. “subordinate masculinities”, in order to describe the simultaneous existence of several models, one of which in power.

17Connell too starts with the power that is really exerted. What informs Connell’s paradigm, in fact, is the immanence of a gendered asymmetry that the scholar identifies under the name of “patriarchy”. Masculinities change over time when the premises for the predominance of a given form of masculinity wane but, in a given context, “hegemonic” – where hegemony is the Gramscian category referring to a cultural predominance in a society – is always that configuration of gender praxis that legitimates the condition of patriarchy.

  • 10 Connell 1995, p. 78.

18Within such a general patriarchal frame, there are also relations of dominance and subordination amongst men. In contemporary European and American societies, the scholar argues, “the most important case [...] is the dominance of heterosexual men and the subordination of homosexual men”10. Several “projects of masculinity” – as she more happily calls them in other occasions – here become strongly opposed, reified identities, where it is a static dislocation of power that sets the rules.

19It should be noted that Connell herself had to admit that those men who embody “hegemonic masculinity” are quite few. Showing awareness of the limits of the hegemonic/subordinate juxtaposition when it comes to studying the subjects, she introduced a third category that the majority of men would fit in, namely that of “complicit masculinity”, packed with those who benefit from the privileges of patriarchy, without fully embodying its model. Although it could have come in handy to historians, dismantling the dichotomy of the model from the inside, nothing could this third category do against the overwhelming success of the opposition hegemony/ subordination.

20However, when in the same book Connell undresses the part of the structuralist theorist, which most inspired historians, and moves on to the presentation of her field research, she shows what a benefit a change of perspective would afford. Working on real social actors and their environment, in fact, she realises that gender is not fixed before social interactions, but rather constructed through them. She figures that social conventions on masculinity are not pre-existing norms passively absorbed, and therefore embodied. On the contrary, through several research examples, she suggests exploring the continuous transformations of said conventions as they are produced in social life. A plan that might have historians come together.

21Now, the category of “complicit masculinity”, that Connell is de facto obliged to introduce, expresses the awareness that social actors do not rely on a single model or script; therefore, the complexity of said practices should suggest the opportunity to critically rethink both the monolithic nature of cultural and identity models that we presume inform the subjects and, as researchers, their heuristic function as well. Is it really useful to think in terms of identity models or we should talk about complex, contradictory and contextual features, instead? What is for certain is that we cannot just recognise the plurality of the models, without dismantling them, deconstructing their inner complexities. What I mean is that the hegemony/subordination juxtaposition does not properly work not only because there is more than one single hegemonic model in a given context, but also because it is not convincing from the point of view of a history of representations.

22Back to Joan Scott’s proposal, if she is right in establishing a relationship of filiation between the varied and contradictory set of symbols on the one hand and normative models on the other, rethinking the models of masculinity – especially the ones perceived as hegemonic – in the light of their constitutive antinomies, means to question the clear-cut discriminations suggested by hegemony/ subordination dichotomy. We should at least take into account the possibility that the “principle of non-contradiction” is not suitable for the representations of gender, and that some reassuring inner cohesion of the identity models primarily responds to the researcher’s need for categorization.

  • 11 Veyne 1983 (It. ed. Bologna 1984 and 2005).
  • 12 Bourdieu 1998 (It. ed. Milan 1998).

23In a sense, gender is a narrative, a representation in which subjects “believe”. “Believing”, however, does not imply the existence of one single truth, for the statutes of truth are always many: indeed, it is possible to believe in things that are completely opposite, following apparently incompatible logics. This was Paul Veyne’s thesis with regards to the relationship between the ancient Greeks and mythology11; a thesis that, I believe, may well serve the object of our study: it does not take an identity fully constructed around the concept of strength – as Bourdieu seems to argue instead12 – to explain male power.

24On the contrary, it seems legit to think that no normative model, irrespective of how monolithic it looks, can be reduced to univocal features. All the more so when several clues suggest that crisis and fragility have been recurrent elements in a series of representations of masculinity for quite a long time, and this applies even to that model of warlike and heroic masculinity that migrate from the classical world to modern and contemporary times.

25An iconographic research would constitute an interesting test bench of what I have just maintained. Surely, the plurality of expertise needed in order to consciously move through disciplinary fields is discouraging; the predictable pitfalls, that alone would be enough to deter one from trying, add up to the barriers within academia. Nevertheless, the question stands out in the rooms of any European museum: many the works of art where gender is in the spotlight, where it is easy to recognise a discourse – intentional, normative and yet ambiguous – on what a man and a woman are.

  • 13 Still relevant to the topic is Seznec 1980 (1940) (It. ed. Turin 1981, 1990 and 2008).
  • 14 According to a fitting definition by Salustio (IVth c.), myth is something that has never been, but (...)

26As is common knowledge, this is a discourse conducted from at least the Fifteenth century up to Neo Classicism mainly through the representation of classical gods and heroes. A heritage of fabulae that crossed the centuries that separate Humanism from the Ancient Times, conveyed by a plurality of traditions13. For example, one may draw attention to two planetary deities – Mars and Venus – who, taken either aside or in their mutual relation, have always constituted a constant reference to discuss what always happens to both men and women14.

  • 15 I am very grateful to Alessandra Gissi for the September afternoon we spent together at the Prado, (...)

27If I am only hinting at a wider project, so blurry and embryonic not to deserve further illustration at the moment, it is to share some impressions emerged in the presence of a particular work of art, a painting by Velázquez, which I have more than once beheld over the years. Its title is El dios Marte, a 1640 painting on display in the Prado Museum, in Madrid, and I believe that its reading has some relevance to the inner complexity of models of masculinity and virility15. Below, I will try to explain why it is so, starting with a description of the painting.

28Mars, god of war, is depicted as a man not so young anymore sitting at the sides of an unmade bed naked, except for a red cloth surrounding his waist and an untied and slightly slanting helmet which casts some shadow onto his face. His shield and weapons lie at the feet of the bed. His posture is melancholic one hand is holding the chin while the other is hidden in the quilts; his look, pointed towards the viewer, is marked by irony and self-commiseration.

  • 16 See Brown 1986.
  • 17 On the building, see Alpers 1971 on the entire context Georgievska-Shine − Silver 2014.

29When working at the painting, Velázquez had been “court painter” for king Philip IV of Spain for many years16. The canvas was destined for a little hunting lodge, the Torre de la parada, made up of very few rooms; an intimate place, particularly dear to the sovereign, away from the splendour and solemnity of the Palacio del Buen Retiro17. If in the gallery of the Palacio paintings celebrate Spanish military triumphs along with its leaders, in the Torre the king and the prince are both depicted in their hunt attire, posing with their dogs.

30Destined for the Torre were two other subjects, a Menippus and a Diogenes – both coherent with a programme inspired to neo-stoic humanism, all the rage at the Spanish court – that there seemed to find their most suitable collocation. Rubens and his workshop, instead, were commissioned the most part of the decorations, which turned around the subject of the Labours of Hercules in a series of episodes told by Ovid in his Metamorphoses.

  • 18 See Quondam 2003, Bull 2006, in part. chapt. III (It. ed. 2015, p. 97-159).

31If Hercules was an ideal alter ego for many rulers of the time, so was Mars, though to a lesser extent, as is shown in the decorations on the armours themselves, considered a “second skin of the modern gentleman”18. How should we look, then, at Mars’ melancholic, loser-like and definitely not so martial image in which king Philip IV was invited by his painter-courtier to see his own reflection?

  • 19 The debate is reconstructed by Cherry 1993, p. 223-35.

32The art historians who have examined the matter more or less agree on considering love as the theme of the painting. Not so successful, on the other hand, was the theory according to which Velázquez would have been ironically hinting at a recent Spanish military defeat19.

33 What lends in support of the dominant theory are both the unmade bed and the red cloth, symbol for passionate love, and, above all, a textual and iconographic tradition that dates back to an episode from the Homeric Odyssey, book VIII. The episode, famous for the version contained in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, will become a topos dear to many artists during the Renaissance: the adulterous romance between Ares and Aphrodite (Mars and Venus in the Latin version). The two lovers, caught in the act by the betrayed husband Hephaestus (Volcano), fall into the trap of a subtle and invisible web that the latter has forged and that exposes them, naked and shameful, to the mockery of the other Gods. Off the episode, Velázquez would pick the moment of its conclusion. The Gods have left the scene in amusement: Venus is back on her island and Mars – left on his own – ponders melancholically upon the misadventure he has run into.

  • 20 See Archivio histórico de Protocolos de Madrid, Protocolo de Juan de Burgos, n. 8137, año 1660, fol (...)
  • 21 The volume was published several times here I refer to Perez de Moya 1585. On the importance of man (...)

34Among the books owned by the painter, according to the inventory made after his death20, there is the Philosophia secreta by Perez de Moya, an important text in the history of Spanish culture between the XVI and XVII century21. In it, in fact, the author deals with ancient mythology both to tell the artists how to use it to express moral content and, at the same time, to inform the readers on how to interpret a work of art. It is quite likely that Velázquez bears this book in mind while painting El dios Marte.

  • 22 Perez de Moya 1585, 164v.

35Perez de Moya explains that love and adultery are both associated to the god of war because the men who take up arms are more inclined to lust than others. The immediate reference he gives to the reader is Aristotle, who observes in a passage from Politics that martial races have a particular weakness for sex22.

36It is a peculiarity that directly abides by the body of the warrior and, in particular, by his temper. It is his exuberant natural warmth that lends him a certain air of quarrelsomeness, quick-tempered-ness, violence and aggressiveness, but also a marked inclination to sensuality.

  • 23 Perez de Moya 1585, 170v.

37This is a principle restated over the centuries by a medical tradition shaped around the Galeno-Hippocratic paradigm; a tradition that also crosses, in many forms, the astrological knowledge, one of the ways by which planetary gods, as is well known, move through centuries. Planet Mars, in particular, confers/bestows remarkable warmth upon his “children”, and this is what originates desire. Perez de Moya reminds that, according to the astrologists, those who have Mars in a house of Venus at their birth will be strongly inclined to lust23.

  • 24 On « complexion » as « identity » in Modern Age see the interesting observations by Groebner 2007, (...)

38The medical doctrine of temperaments in the modern age provides a key to decode the variety of humans and, along with astrology and physiognomy, assesses characters and personalities. Thus, when discussing Mars, his warlike nature is part of a set of features that makes him one of the possible natural configurations of masculinity, typical of those who have “hot blooded temper”, the ultimate virile men (strong muscular system, hairy body and deep voice are some of the qualities traditionally attributed to such nature)24.

  • 25 Perez de Moya 1585, 164v.

39Let us go back to Perez de Moya. If the artist has some moral-ising intention in painting El dios Marte, the Philosophia secreta can assure that the adulterous incident with Venus fits for the purpose. The fact that the strongest and best-built god be caught by the lame and misshapen one means that strength alone will never be enough for the vicious man to escape divine rage and punishment, were he even a king. Moreover, Volcano’s subtle web that traps the adulterous couple stands for the web of warmth-generated lustful desires in which vicious men get caught up, at least until they do not cool down25. Therefore, one had better tame their passions.

  • 26 An Architettura di Leon Battista Alberti appears, with some predictability, in Velázquez’s books in (...)
  • 27 Hellenists’ attention has so far overlooked masculinity in book VIII of the Odyssey, judging from t (...)

40This, however, does not seem to be a fully convincing key of interpretation of the painting. The author’s tone, in fact, is far from being that of a frowning prude. As a courtier he is a man of the world and, as an artist, obeys the rules of pictorial convenience set by Leon Battista Alberti: it is appropriate that spaces destined for leisure and recreation, such as those of a country villa, be decorated with “gay and licentious” subjects26. Mars’s misadventure has been such since the ancient times, always told to amuse and celebrate love, not chastity. Before Ovid, Mars’s humiliation is already present in the Homeric poem, where – sung at the court of the king of the Phaeacians by Demodocus – it shows Odysseus the hosting people’s capacity to savour the pleasures of love; this, right after he has been offended by the excess of masculine pride of some young nobleman – not by chance “similar to Ares”27.

41The humanity and sweet melancholy of Velázquez’s subject evoke a tradition of manifested sympathy for love and its capacity to bend everyone, even the “Planet King”. If passions drag to Hell, his Mars is resigned to being punished, but far from repentance. Has he not simply followed his nature? In his humiliation, the male observer can recognise himself, with a smile.

  • 28 See Matthews-Grieco 2010 in particular, on the erotic male complicity at court, see Bourne 2010.

42After all, what is a royal hunting lodge for, if not a place to put down the weapons and divest the armour, a place to temporary suspend the performance of power indulging in the pleasures of love? Moral warning is one with the elegant and ironic bias of a complicit discourse, a discourse amongst men who share the urges for desire28.

43That dialogue between Velázquez and his king is cultured and refined, a game clearly inscribed in the dynamics of the court. What strengthens it and makes it viable, however, are cultural instances of broader and more enduring meaning that would require historiographical attention. First and foremost, the ambiguous notion of the weakness of the flesh, on the one hand conceived as the weakness of will, as a consuming subjugation to the senses, and on the other as an essential natural drive, intrinsic to and supportive of masculinity. The sympathy that both the disarmed warrior and the temporary fragility induced by love – even physical, in the post coitum – elicit, after all, a positive fragility that is the overcoming of a wild nature that foreruns civilization and that, at the same time, is deeply confirmed by it.

44Multiple domains contribute to the perpetuation of such a tangled knot, from medicine to astrology, from the catholic anthropology of the flesh to the ideals of civic humanism. A stratification of different cultural models that finds its quintessential balance in the complicity of the gentle looks that Velázquez gives to his Mars. Here, the most passionate man of all serves as a hyperbole of masculinity and incarnation of its legitimazing constitutive fragilities.



Ago 2004 = R. Ago, “Così si volta questa ruota di parole”: biblioteche e lettori nella Roma del Seicento, in Quaderni Storici, 115, 2004, p. 119-38.

Alpers 1971 = S. Alpers, The decoration of the Torre de la Parada, London-New York, 1971.

Brown 1986 = J. Brown, Velazquez: painter and courtier, New Haven (CT)- London, 1986.

Bellassai 2011 = A. Bellassai, L’invenzione della virilità. Politica e immaginario maschile nell’Italia contemporanea, Rome, 2011.

Benadusi 2005 = L. Benadusi, Il nemico dell’uomo nuovo. L’omosessualità nell’esperimento totalitario fascista, Milan, 2005.

Benadusi – Caravale 2012 = L. Benadusi, G. Caravale (ed.), Sulle orme di George L. Mosse. Interpretazioni e fortuna dell’opera di un grande storico, Rome, 2012.

Benadusi 2012 = L. Benadusi, Una casa ben arredata: la storia della mascolinità, in Benadusi, Caravale 2012, p. 59-79.

Bourdieu 1998 = P. Bourdieu, La domination masculine, Paris, 1998 (trad. it. 1998).

Bourne 2010 = M. Bourne, Mail humour and male sociability: sexual innuendo in the epistolary domain of Francesco II Gonzaga, in S. Matthews-Grieco (ed.), Erotic cultures in Renaissance Italy, Farnham, 2010, p. 199-221.

Bull 2006 = M. Bull, The mirror of the gods. Classical mythology in Renaissance Art, London, 2006.

Bull 2015 = M. Bull, Lo specchio degli dèi. La mitologia classica nell’arte rinascimentale, Turin, 2015.

Cherry 1993 = P. Cherry, Una sugerencia acerca del “Marte” de Velázquez como “Burla” de la antigüedad, in Jornadas de Arte, La visión del mundo clásico en el arte español, Madrid, 1993, p. 223-35.

Connell 1995 = R. Connell, Masculinities, Berkeley (CA), 1995.

Fiorino 2016 = V. Fiorino, Il “genere”, un’utile categoria di analisi storica. Il saggio di Joan Scott venticinque anni dopo, in Italia contemporanea, 281, 2016, p. 154-66.

Georgievska Shine – Silver 2014 = A. Georgievska Shine, L. Silver, Rubens, Velázquez and the King of Spain, Farnham-Burlington (VT), 2014.

Groebner 2007 = V. Groebner, Who are you? Identification, deception, and surveillance in early modern Europe, Brooklyn (NY), 2007.

Hämmerle – Opitz-Belakhal 2008 = C. Hämmerle, C. Opitz-Belakhal (ed.), Krise (n) der Männlichkeit?, special issue of L’Homme. Europäische Zeitschrift fur Feministische Geschichtwissenschaft, 19, 2008.

Matthews-Grieco 2010 = S. Matthews-Grieco (ed.), Erotic cultures in Renaissance Italy, Farnham, 2010

Mosse 1982 = G. L. Mosse, Nationalism and sexuality: respectability and abnormal sexuality in modern Europe, New York, 1982 (it. Ed. Rome-Bari, 1984).

Mosse 1996 = G. L. Mosse, The image of man. The creation of modern masculinity, Oxford, 1996 (Fr. Ed. Paris 1997; Ger. Ed. Frankfurt am Main; 1997 (It. Ed. Turin 1997)

Palmisciano 2012 = R. Palmisciano, Gli amori di Ares e Afrodite (Od. 8. 266-366). Statuto del discorso e genere poetico, in SemRom. Seminari romani di cultura greca, 2, 2012, p. 187-210.

Perez de Moya 1585 = Juan Perez de Moya, Philosophia secreta. Donde debaxo de historias fabulosas, se contiene mucha doctrina, prouechosa: a todos estudios. Con el origen de los idolos, o Dioses dela Gentilidad. Es materia muy necessaria, para entender poetas, y historiadores, Madrid 1585.

Quondam 2003 = A. Quondam, Cavallo e cavaliere: l’armatura come seconda pelle del gentiluomo moderno, Rome, 2003.

Salustio 2000 = Salustio, Gli dèi e il mondo, ed. R. Di Giuseppe, Milan, 2000.

Scott 1986 = J. W. Scott, Gender: a useful category of historical analysis, in The American Historical Review, 91, 1986, p. 1053-75.

Scott 2013 = J. W. Scott, Genere, politica, storia, ed. I. Fazio, Rome, 2013.

Seznec 1980 = J. Seznec, La survivance des dieux antiques, essai sur le rôle de la tradition mythologique dans l’humanisme et dans l’art de la Renaissance, Paris, 1980 (It. Ed. Turin, 1981, 1990 and 2008).

Varia Velazqueña. Homenaje a Vélazquez en el 3. centenario de su muerte, Madrid, 1960.

Veyne 1983 = P. Veyne, Les Grecs ont-ils cru à leurs mythes?, Paris, 1983 (It. transl. Bologna, 1984 and 2005).

Vigarello – Corbin – Courtine 2011 = G. Vigarello, A. Corbin, J.-J. Courtine (ed.), L’histoire de la virilité, Paris, 2011.


1 Scott 1986, p. 82.

2 For the more general limits of its reception, especially in Italy, see Fiorino 2016, p. 154-66; a contribution that follows from the recent re-publication in Scott 2013.

3 The volume, an Oxford University Press publication, was immediately translated into many languages; Italian: Turin 1997; French: Paris 1997; German: Frankfurt am Main 1997. On its reception in Italy, see Benadusi − Caravale 2012; in particular, Benadusi 2012, p. 59-79.

4 Mosse 1982 (it. ed. 1984).

5 It is a temptation, I believe, that crosses à la Mosse Benadusi 2005.

6 Mosse 1996, p. 4.

7 In Italy, see for example Bellassai 2011. On the French side, Vigarello – Corbin − Courtine 2011 − despite the distinctions that a many-handed work needs − reflects a similar framework in its general structure, especially in volumes II and III.

8 See Hämmerle − Opitz-Belakhal 2008.

9 Connell 1995.

10 Connell 1995, p. 78.

11 Veyne 1983 (It. ed. Bologna 1984 and 2005).

12 Bourdieu 1998 (It. ed. Milan 1998).

13 Still relevant to the topic is Seznec 1980 (1940) (It. ed. Turin 1981, 1990 and 2008).

14 According to a fitting definition by Salustio (IVth c.), myth is something that has never been, but always is (Salustio 2000, p. 127).

15 I am very grateful to Alessandra Gissi for the September afternoon we spent together at the Prado, in 2014, right before the painting, discoussing it.

16 See Brown 1986.

17 On the building, see Alpers 1971 on the entire context Georgievska-Shine − Silver 2014.

18 See Quondam 2003, Bull 2006, in part. chapt. III (It. ed. 2015, p. 97-159).

19 The debate is reconstructed by Cherry 1993, p. 223-35.

20 See Archivio histórico de Protocolos de Madrid, Protocolo de Juan de Burgos, n. 8137, año 1660, fols. 693-709: Inventario de Bienes que dejaron a su muerte D. Diego de Silva Velazquez y su mujer D Juana Pacheco, in Varia Velazqueña 1960, p. 397-400. On the compendia in the private libraries of the XVII century and their function, see Ago 2004, p. 119-38.

21 The volume was published several times here I refer to Perez de Moya 1585. On the importance of manuals of mythology, see Seznec 2008, p. 342-87.

22 Perez de Moya 1585, 164v.

23 Perez de Moya 1585, 170v.

24 On « complexion » as « identity » in Modern Age see the interesting observations by Groebner 2007, p. 119-25.

25 Perez de Moya 1585, 164v.

26 An Architettura di Leon Battista Alberti appears, with some predictability, in Velázquez’s books inventory (No. 247).

27 Hellenists’ attention has so far overlooked masculinity in book VIII of the Odyssey, judging from the extremely vast bibliography discussed in Palmisciano 2012.

28 See Matthews-Grieco 2010 in particular, on the erotic male complicity at court, see Bourne 2010.

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