The Epigrams of Martial (Translated)


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Of the four poems that certainly or probably refer to objects made of glass, two Martial frequently addresses his verses to a named person. While some of the names are real, others appear to be pseudonyms. Indeed, in the preface to Book I, Martial maintains that the personal names he uses are fictitious. Usually, we have no means of knowing whether a name—Caecilianus, for example—is a pseudonym that conceals the identity of a real person, or whether it refers to a figment of Martial's imagination.

Septem clepsydras magna tibi voce petenti arbiter invictus, Caeciliane, dedit. Caecilianus was a lawyer, whom Martial attacks for his long-winded speeches. The time allotted for a speech was measured by a clepsydra , a water clock similar to a sandglass. Martial urges Caecilianus to drink the contents of his water clock and thereby cut short the time available for his peroration. For another reference to the use of water clocks in court, see Martial 8.

Martial also uses the name Caecilianus to attack behavior outside the courtroom. He scolds Caecilianus for taking food from his host's dinner party and passing it to his attendant to be taken home 2. Ampulla is a diminutive form of amphora , a vessel with two handles. The word was applied to containers with a variety of functions: for example, for taking oil to the baths, for holding medicine, and for drinking.

Calices vitrei Aspicis ingenium Nili: quibus addere plure dum cupit, a quoties perdidit auctor opus. Leary suggested that these lines refer to mosaic glass. By the 80s, when the verses were written, mosaic glass was no longer fashionable, 10 and in any case it was not especially vulnerable to damage either during the forming process or when it was ground and polished.

It is much more likely that Martial was thinking of cut glass: either faceted beakers, as Oliver implied, 11 or vessels with openwork, such as the beakers from Nijmegen and Begram see section The word calices sing. Egypt in general and Alexandria in particular were well-known sources of glassware, as the following extracts from other writers testify:.

Ac permutata aliquando pecunia est; subductae naves Postumi Puteolis sunt; auditae visaeque merces fallaces quidem et fucosae et chartis et linteis et vitro delatis; quibus cum multae naves refertae fuissent, una non patuit parva. In the board game latrunculi bandits or mercenaries , the latro robber was a superior piece.

Each square on the board was called a mandra stall or cattle pen , and the plural mandrae referred to the board itself. Miles soldier usually refers to one's own piece and hostis enemy to that of one's opponent. The primary meaning of the adjective gemmeus is "of precious stones" or "adorned with precious stones. Furthermore, most of the gaming pieces mentioned in Latin literature e. The primary meaning of nimbus is a shower of rain or a storm cloud.

Martial associates the storm with Jupiter because of his role as the god of rain. It carries no implication about the material from which the object was made.


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Generally speaking, however, toreumata were made of precious materials, and gemma , when used of a drinking vessel, usually means a cup or goblet made of a precious stone. Here, however, the words are used ironically, as the adjective plebeia "pertaining to the common people" makes clear. The position of these lines in the Apophoreta led Leary to suppose that the calices audaces were an inexpensive present.

The fact that they were decorated in relief suggests that they were Arretine ware, which Martial mentions at 1. Tolle, puer, calices tepidique toreumata Nili et mihi secura paula trade manu trita patrum labris et tonsu pura ministro: anticus mensis restituatur honor. This is an attack on conspicuous spending, which conservative Romans saw as a serious social problem. Augustus had passed a sumptuary law Suetonius, Aug. Mentor was a Greek silversmith of the fourth century B. To make a chamber pot from one of Mentor's creations, therefore, would be an act of extreme extravagance.

Isings suggested that the toreumata were mold-blown beakers such as her form 31, which imitated embossed metal vessels , 30 and this suggestion was repeated by Harden. Caecuba saccantur quaeque annus coxit Opimi, conduntur parco fusca Falerna vitro. The context is a cynical comment on reports that Tongilius is seriously ill with a fever. In Martial's opinion, Tongilius is feigning sickness in order to attract gourmet presents, including fine wines, from legacy seekers who assume that he may be near death. Ventris onus misero, nec te pudet, excipis auro, Basse, bibis vitro.

Howell noted that some manuscripts render the name as Basse i. Murra was a more or less opaque, variegated substance Martial describes it as maculosa , speckled, at Its identity has been discussed at length. In the most recent contribution to the debate, Vickers supported the view that murra is fluorspar. Consequently, Ponticus could fill the transparent glasses of his guests with wine of one quality while drinking, unobserved, superior wine from his opaque murrhine vessel.

Martial at 3. Quod quacumque venis Cosmum migrare putamus et fluere excusso cinnama fusa vitro, nolo peregrinis placeas tibi, Gellia, nugis. Cosmus apparently was a well-known perfume seller in Rome cf.

Juvenal 8. Primos passa toros et adhuc placanda marito merserat in nitidos se Cleopatra lacus, dum figit amplexus. Insilui mersusque vadis luctantia carpsi basia: perspicuae plus vetuistis aquae. One might assume that the lilies and roses are in glass vases. It is more likely, however, that the flowers are growing in cloches or conservatories such as Martial describes at 8. In conclusion, it is noteworthy that Martial uses the adjective vitreus to mean not only "made of glass" but also "glasslike":. The Castalian spring is on Parnassus, the mountain home of Apollo and the Muses the nine ladies.

Translation:Martial V.24

Martial uses the adjective vitreus to describe the sparkling clarity of the water, just as Horace uses the noun vitrum to describe a spring at Bandusia. Urbanus tibi, Caecili, videris. Quid ergo? Verna es, hoc quod Transtiberinus ambulator, qui pallentia sulphurata fractis permutat vitreis, Transtiberinus means "from across the Tiber.

In Roman times, Trastevere was an undesirable place to live, being the location of tanneries and other offensive trades. For a similar reference to the exchange of sulfur for broken glass, see Statius, Silvae 1. Hoc plaudunt grege Lydiae tumentes, Illic cymbala tinnulaeque Gades: Illic agmina confremunt Syrorum, Hic plebs scenica quique comminutis permutant vitreis gregale sulphur. These passages in Martial and Statius have been the subject of intermittent discussion by philologists since at least , when Post explained them by suggesting that broken glass was mended with an adhesive made from sulfur.

Leon suggested instead that the street seller acquired the broken glass for recycling, exchanging it for sulfur, 47 and Smyth suggested that the fragments were used by mosaicists. Vernaculorum dicta, sordidum dentem, et foeda linguae probra circulatricis, quae sulphurato nolit empta ramento Vatiniorum proxeneta fractorum, poeta quidam clancularius spargit et vult videri nostra.

These verses tell us that certain late first-century cups were named for Vatinius, and the preceding passage, by associating the barter of broken "Vatinians" for sulfur, leads us to suppose that at least some of them were made of glass see note Juvenal provides additional information and repeats the association of Vatinian cups and sulfur:. Vatinius was a sinister figure at the court of Nero r.

According to Tacitus, "Vatinius was one of the most hideous monstrosities at the Court. Bred in a cobbler's booth, deformed in body and scurrilous of wit, he was taken up at first as a butt; but in the course of time he so ingratiated himself by accusing distinguished persons that he became pre-eminent, even among evil men, in influence, wealth, and the power to inflict injury.

Lewis and Short supposed that Vatiniani were cups made by Vatinius. This interpretation, however, is problematic. No first-century glass cup with four mouths or spouts appears to have been published. Perhaps, by alluding to four noses, Juvenal is mocking the enormous size or the shape of a single nose cf.

Martial's Epigrams

Martial's allusion to the length of Vatinius's nose at If this is so, Vatinian cups might be grotesque head flasks such as those that were made in the third century. Although the material from which the windowpanes were made is not identified, their transparency suggests that they were made of glass. It is generally agreed that the first window glass was made by the Romans in the first century A. Window glass seems to have become relatively common, and, like glass vessels, it is found in every province of the Roman Empire, sometimes in large quantities.

At Sardis, for example, fragments of window glass literally outweighed the fragments of glass vessels in deposits of the early Byzantine period about A. Qui Corcyraei vidit pomaria regis, rus, Entelle, tuae praeferet ille domus. Elsewhere, Martial uses gemma to mean glass see section 10 , and the adjective perspicua transparent or clear seems to confirm that this is the material in Entellus 's conservatory. Moreover, no other meaning of gemma is appropriate in this context. The protection of vines, vegetables, and flowers appears to have been one of the earliest uses of flat glass.

The frames were fitted with specularia to protect the plants in cold weather, and in good weather they were wheeled around the garden, following the sun. Although the subject of these verses, Mamurra, is penniless, he is an inveterate window-shopper for rare and exotic luxury items. Such is the degree of his ostentatious behavior that he rejects luxurious rock crystal because it has been "devalued" by glass imitations, and instead he chooses even more expensive murra see section This is foolish because, as Pliny the Elder remarks, "Glass-ware has now come to resemble rock-crystal in a remarkable manner, but the effect has been to flout the laws of Nature and actually to increase the value of the former without diminishing that of the latter.

Crystallina Frangere dum metuis, franges crystallina; peccant securae nimium sollicitaeque manus. Una est in nostris tua, Fidentine, libellis pagina, sed certa domini signata figura, quae tua traducit manifesto carmina furto Martial is accusing Fidentinus of plagiarism. Fidentinus had inserted a single page into a book of Martial's verses and passed them off as his own. Martial makes a series of unflattering comparisons between his verses "crystal vessels" and those of Fidentinus "Arretine vessels," which were made of earthenware.

Martial again attacks Fidentinus for plagiarism at 1.

Book Review | 'Martial’s Epigrams: A Selection,' translated by Garry Wills - The New York Times

Dum tibi Niliacus portat crystalla cataplus accipe de circo pocula Flaminio. The name Flaccus appears 22 times in Books Despite Martial's claim that he concealed the names of real persons, Kay suggested that in every case Flaccus was probably the same person. Martial describes how Aper inherited , sesterces from an uncle and changed his life style. Previously, when he was too poor to join them, he used to criticize those who drank expensive Falemian wine at the baths and said that their cups ought to be broken.

Now, however, he does not return from the baths sober.

The adjective diatretus means "pierced with holes," and so the neuter nominative plural, diatreta , refers to objects with openwork or filigree. Diatreta are mentioned by Ulpian in the Digest 9. Frequently, however, they are assumed to be glass cage cups. While it is reasonable to suppose that cage cups were known as diatreta , the evidence does not support the conclusion that all diatreta were made of glass.

If, however, Aper's diatreta were made of glass, perhaps they were vessels with openwork, such as the beakers from Begram and Nijmegen mentioned in section 2.

Martial - Wikiquote

This article was published in the Journal of Glass Studies , Vol. The Apophoreta. Martial describes the mood of the Saturnalia in Seven water clocks' allowance you asked for in demanding tones, Caecilianus, and the judge, although unconvinced, gave them. But you speak much and long, and, with back-tilted head, you swill tepid water out of glass flasks. That you may once and for all still your oratory and your thirst, we beg you, Caecilianus, now to drink out of the water clock 6.

Glass cups. You observe the ingenuity of Egypt. Ah, how often when he wishes to make additions, the author ruins his work! Early Ancient Glass. Andrew Oliver Jr. It is true that the goods invoiced were cheap and showy items of paper, linen, and glass; but there was one small ship whose cargo was not revealed" Cicero, Pro Rabir. Cicero was defending C. Rabirius Postumus against charges of receiving funds illegally obtained by bribery or extortion in Egypt.

The trial took place in 54 B. I heard at Alexandria from the glassworkers that there is in Egypt a kind of vitreous earth without which multicolored and expensive designs cannot be executed, just as elsewhere other countries require other compounds Strabo, He further says that the men of Alexandria make glass, working it into many varied shapes of drinking vessels, and copying the shape of every kind of pottery that is imported among them from everywhere Athenaeus, Thus may you beat Novius and Publius, penned up in the squares, with a glass robber 7.

Gaming pieces. If you play the war games of robbers in ambush [or stealthy mercenaries], this piece of glass will be both your soldier and your enemy They all deal with sex in some way or another. The first is about a lesbian named Bassa; the second is about a speaker's desire for a young boy the eromenos of Graeco-Roman sexual practice ; and the third is about some rather obscure but kinky sexual acts. In each case, the poem shows Martial exactly as he was: a Roman male who disliked homosexuality, but who had a proclivity for underage boys, and who appears to have favored a somewhat rough and exploitative sex.

Making love to an eromenos was not considered abnormal at that time; indeed, if we are to believe Martial, it seems to have been a preferred sexual outlet for many adult Roman males. Epigram III. The other two poems are satiric, making fun of lesbian sex and kinky heterosexual practices. There are other poems among Martial's Epigrams that make these three look like exemplars of Victorian reticence.

I choose to present these ones because I had put them into an approximation of English meter, and also because they are good instances of a more robust approach to poetry and to discourse in general than what normally obtains today. We live in a timorous age, where the fundamentalist Right and the politically correct Left have conspired to strangle any openly sexual references of an impolite nature.

Martial wrote many of his Epigrams during the reign of the tyrant emperor Domitian. It was a time of political repression, fear, and cowed speech. Nevertheless, he was allowed to ridicule whatever sexual practices or personality types he pleased. I trust that right now, in the United States, I have at least as much freedom of speech as Martial had under Domitian. All three Latin poems are in elegiac couplets. I have rendered them into iambic pentameter, although my version of Epigram III.

Rather than rewrite it, I have left it as it stands. Bassa, I never saw you hang with guys-- Nobody whispered that you had a beau. Girls surrounded you at every turn; They did your errands, with no attendant males. And so, I guess I naturally assumed That you were what you seemed: a chaste Lucretia. But hell no. Why, you shameless little tramp, You were an active humper all the time.

You improvised, by rubbing cunts together, And using that bionic clit of yours To counterfeit the thrusting of a male. You've managed to create A real conundrum, worthy of the Sphinx: Adultery without a co-respondent. Quod numquam maribus iunctam te, Bassa, videbam quodque tibi moechum fabula nulla dabat, omne sed officium circa te semper obibat turba tui sexus, non adeunte viro, esse videbaris, fateor, Lucretia nobis: at tu, pro facinus, Bassa, fututor eras. Lucretia : the legendary avatar of chastity among the Romans.

The Epigrams of Martial (Translated) The Epigrams of Martial (Translated)
The Epigrams of Martial (Translated) The Epigrams of Martial (Translated)
The Epigrams of Martial (Translated) The Epigrams of Martial (Translated)
The Epigrams of Martial (Translated) The Epigrams of Martial (Translated)
The Epigrams of Martial (Translated) The Epigrams of Martial (Translated)

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