dux femina facti

dux femina facti (1.364): Ruden, scrupulously keeping to Vergil’s three words, has “A woman led.” Other editions offer variations on “A woman led the deed/enterprise/exploit” – facti here means the thing done (not the making of her into a leader): A woman [was] leader in (of) the deed.

Note that “Dido dux” recurs at 4.1.165-66, yet there “dux” actually refers to Aeneas, with shrewd ambiguity to make you initially believe it modifies Dido.

dux femina facti has become a tagline for female leadership. The phrase was applied to Queen Elizabeth I in celebration of the (lucky) triumph over the Spanish Armada (1588) – yet another instance of Vergil circulating in discourse centuries after his death. More recently, a Latin commendation for a computer scientist picks up the phrase:

Praeclara docta in scientia computatoria, dux femina facti: una ex primis feminis quae Doctores in Scientia Computatoria salutatae sunt, decima quidem femina quae professor apud Massachusettense Institutum Technologiae fiebat. [Pioneering computer scientist, you went boldly where few women had gone before. You were among the first women to receive a Ph.D. in computer science, and when you joined the MIT faculty in 1972, you were only the tenth woman to do so.]


*From Virgil’s Aeneid: Dux Femina Facti, or “A woman was leader of the exploit.” A rare example in Latin verse of a feminine noun paired with a masculine verb.

6 thoughts on “dux femina facti

  1. “Facti” is not a verb; it is a noun. True, it was in origin a perfect passive participle (participles are not verbs but verbal adjectives), but it was by Vergil’s time a full-fledged noun. Yes, it has gender, but its gender is not masculine but neuter (factum, facti—2nd declension neuter).

  2. Genitive singular. So it’s not even a participle. Gotta love these matchbox-school educated feminists.

  3. And perhaps Virgil (Virgilio) was using a contemporary idiom of the time that defies the modern grammatical interpretations that are all being quibbled over.

    It could mean something like “Woman for Leader” = ‘women show great leadership qualities”
    (as in Women make Leaders).I agree with David, the verb Facti a form from the verb facere to make or craft, is likely in a past pluperfect form) with Dux a masculine noun, object of that verb(a leader) – this word Dux can be applied to a male or female: Dux of the class applies to either gender of top student E.g. modern English usage that now says “actor” for both genders. Femina is the subject of the verb facti.
    Typically in Latin the verb lies at the end of the sentence after the object/subject and any prepositions etc.

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