Contenuto articolo principale
In the eyes of the ancient Romans the births of androgyns are among the most terrifying. These monstruous beings are considered as «prodigies», as they reveal a rupture of the pax deorum. On the recommendation of the priests specialised in the disciplina etrusca, these monsters are expelled from the Roman territory, according to the ritual of deportatio. As we know, in the penal law of the imperial period, the word deportatio indicates the harsher form of exsilium with a loss of citizenship, a total confiscation of one’s patrimony, and a confinement to an island. Originally, the word deportatio was used in a religious context. From the end of the third century B.C. onwards, the deportatio was a procedure of expiation intended for the purification of the city space: the monstrum was expelled from the Roman territory – extorre (= ex terra) agro romano -, closed in an ark (arca), and then buried at sea. This ritual of purification seems to coincide with the second Punic war and the great fear of a complete destruction of the city. If we now consider the ritual meaning of the words deportare/deportatio, we must observe that the treatment of the androgyn as a procuratio prodigi is not an isolated case. A parallel can be made with the treatment of the parricide.