Jonson, Satire, and the
Melanion is our ideal;
his loathing makes us free.
Our dearest aim is the gemlike flame
of his misogyny.
In Ben Jonson's satire we find the most fully realized and philosophically justified representation of the Renaissance anti-androgynous ethic, a principle derived from and supported by a combined tradition of Semonidean and Juvenalian disgust, Aristophanic ridicule, scholastic isolationism, and (paradoxically) Puritan antitheatricalism.1 Like Shakespeare, Jonson responded to past and contemporary constructions of androgyny with spirited comic invention, elaborating and complicating his models for the developing medium of the stage. This chapter will explore Jonson's complex representation of the anti-androgynous moral perspectives and some of the literary modes of both classical satirists and Renaissance critics of social transvestism. In the process, the chapter will point to Jonson's specific rebuttal of the principles of mythic androgyny and some of its popular forms. Specifically, I will discuss the reified and guarded construction of masculinity that informs Jonson's resistance to erotic “feminization” and will demonstrate the relationship of this construction to Jonsonian satire's reduction or “draining” of classical, Lylyan, and Shakespearean mythic androgyny symbols so that, as in the works of Aristophanes, Martial, and fellow satirists like Marston, the signifiers of transcendent human synergy become particularized, local embodiments of contemporary social illness. For Jonson, as for the classical satirists (I will argue), moral resistance to a hermaphrodism characterized as deviance accounts for key features of literary