Reference to other people's gender has become a delicate issue in today's world. I expect that the Romans had no controversy over it, but they must have encountered situations where they have to write or speak about someone whose gender is unknown.
Are there example of a Roman writer — or a character in a play or story or similar — referring to a specific person of unknown gender? If yes, how do they go about it? I can think of several approaches, like
- using masculine,
- giving two options (ille aut illa or similar),
- using a noun like persona, or
- using neuter.
I assume the answer is the first one, but I could not think of cases that actually demonstrate that this is what they would have done. My understanding is that a person of unspecified gender is grammatically masculine, but I would like to see actual use examples that corroborate this view — or show something else.
Bear in mind that I am speaking of references to a specific person of unknown gender, not a general person. That is, I am looking for something like "I'm glad that you met someone. Are they nice?" but not "If anyone enters this house, they will be barked at". Please ask for clarification if this is unclear.