Classics Martial
by
Patricia A. Johnston
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 November 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195389661-0082

Introduction

Most of what we know of the origin and early life of Marcus Valerius Martialis (Martial) has been gleaned from his works: the 1561 short, witty poems known as Epigrams that he wrote and which established him as the creator of the modern epigram. He was born in Spain, at Bilbilis, on March 1 between 38 and 41 CE. He died (according to Pliny Epistles 3.21) in Spain between 101 and 104 CE. In Book 10.24 of his Epigrams, composed between 95 and 98, he mentions celebrating his fifty-seventh birthday, and hence he was born on March 1 in 38, 39, 40 or 41 CE. His twelve books of Epigrams were published in Rome between 86 and 103 CE, during the reigns of the emperors Domitian (81–96 CE), Nerva (96–98 CE), and Trajan (98–117 CE). In his poems he satirizes city life and the scandalous activities of his acquaintances, and romanticizes his provincial upbringing. Martial indicates that he came to Rome about 64 CE (Epigrams 10.103 and 10.104), where he appears to have been supported by the younger Seneca, Gaius Calpurnius Piso, and other important patrons (Epigrams 4.40, 12.36) and friends, including the poet Juvenal. The location of his farm at Nomentum (modern Mentana) near Rome, where Seneca and his family owned property, has been cited as evidence of his relationship to Seneca. It has been suggested that the real reason he left Rome was that he was too closely associated with Domitian, whose memory, after he was murdered in 96, was condemned by the Roman Senate. After the death of Domitian, Martial repudiated his earlier praise of this emperor, and instead turned to Emperor Nerva, to whom he dedicated Books 10 and 11, some of which have not survived. But Martial’s poetry and personal position were too closely associated with Domitian for him to be comfortable at Rome. After living in Rome for 34 years, he retired to Spain in 98 CE, and although he was disappointed by the absence of the advantages he had known at Rome, and by the lack of urban sophistication in small-town Bilbilis, he did not live long enough to return to Rome, even if he had wanted to do so.

General Overviews

Sullivan 2004 (cited under Forms and Meters of Martial’s Epigrams) is an excellent beginning for a broad introduction to the works of Martial and to his world. Holzberg 2002 contradicts the author’s 1988 shorter edition. Grewing 1998 is a collection of critical essays. In the category of shorter introductions, Howell 2009 is quite useful; Livingstone and Nisbet 2010 is a solid bibliographical essay in the Cambridge University Press Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics series. Among contemporary treatments, Spisak 2007 discusses Martial’s social world. Fitzgerald 2007 (cited under Forms and Meters of Martial’s Epigrams), Rimell 2008, and Roman 2010 consider Martial in the context of the details of the city Rome in his time.

  • Grewing, Farouk, ed. 1998. Toto Notus in Orbe. Perspektiven der Martial-Interpretation. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

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    Contains a preface and sixteen articles on Martial. In his Preface (pp. 7–14), Grewing provides a survey of modern Editions, Translations, and studies of Martial, with special emphasis on Sullivan’s 1991/2004 monograph (Sullivan: Martial, the Unexpected Classics, pp. 7, 31, 76, 149 ff, 105–107, 255, 217–221, and 290; pp. 12, 31, 171, 198) and on Shackleton Bailey’s three-volume Loeb edition (cited under Translations). Other essays focus on various aspects of Martial’s relationship to Catullus, Ovid, Statius, and Juvenal, as well as individual books.

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    • Holzberg, Niklas. 2002. Martial und das Antike Epigramm. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft.

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      An expanded version of Holzberg’s shorter 1988 edition, with a different approach and emphasis. There Holzberg depicted Martial as a “social critic” teaching his contemporaries to achieve the Horatian ridentem dicere verum, with Martial as a regime critic. This book, rejects those interpretations and is greatly expanded, to include the twelve epigram books (1–12), the Liber Spectaculorum, the Xenia (Book 13) and the Apophoreta (Book 14). Here he has become a poet “who laughs and makes people laugh.” (See also review by Grewing.)

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      • Howell, Peter. 2009. Martial. Ancients in Action. London: Bristol Classical Press.

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        A short (126 pp.), readable introduction with a useful bibliographical endnote. Intended for the modern general reader, but also provides a solid introduction for students of Martial in Latin or for a civilization or literature course in translation.

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        • Livingstone, Niall, and Gideon Nisbet. 2010. Epigram. Greece and Rome: New Surveys in the Classics 38. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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          Published for the Classical Association, this is an introductory survey of the epigram as a genre, tracing its migration from Greece through Rome and after.

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          • Rimell, Victoria. 2008. Martial’s Rome: Empire and the ideology of epigram. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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            Widely ranging study addressing Martial’s vision of the relationship between art and reality and his role in formulating modern perceptions of Roman spatiality (distance and proximity within and to/from Rome).

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            • Roman, Luke. 2010. Martial and the city of Rome. Journal of Roman Studies 100:88–117.

              DOI: 10.1017/S0075435810000092Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

              Examines the representation of the city of Rome in Martial’s Epigrams, and specifically, his references to urban topography, with the city a vivid presence to a degree unparalleled in Roman poetry. He fashions a Rome that is more relentlessly sordid, irregular and jagged in texture, and overtly dissonant in its juxtapositions, than the literary cities of his poetic predecessors. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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              • Spisak, Art L. 2007. Martial: A social guide. London: Duckworth.

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                Treats Martial as a writer of praise and blame poetry that is intended as social commentary and guidance.

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                The Forms and Meters of Martial’s Epigrams

                Epigrams fall into four categories: 1) inscriptions; 2) short erotic poems; 3) special verses for a social occasion; and 4) the short, satirical poem, often having an ironic “point” at the end. Martial’s epigrams fit into each of these categories, and many of them tend to have an ironic or satirical bent. The structure of each book is arranged with great care, providing each book with a strong sense of unity. The majority of Martial’s poems (80 percent) are written in elegiac couplets. Watson and Watson 2003 (pp. 26–31) concludes that Martial’s elegiacs are closest to those of Ovid, but that instead of ending with a disyllable, as Ovid does, Martial often employs polysyllabic endings, thereby throwing emphasis on the couplet’s final word. The next most frequent meter in Martial is hendecasyllables, possibly in imitation of Catullus, who uses it frequently in his poems (e.g., 1–60). The other meter used by Martial is the choliambic, or “limping iamb,” used by Catullus to great effect. Martial particularly uses it in attacks on individuals, but occasionally, like Catullus, Martial employs it in unexpected places, as in eulogies for Domitian (e.g., 9.1, 9.5) He wrote only four epigrams in dactylic hexameter. Sullivan 2004 discusses the form and structure as well as the meters of Martial’s Epigrams. Watson 2006 takes a closer look at the meters, while Fitzgerald 2007 is part of the current critical reassessment of Martial vis-a-vis his book of epigrams.

                • Fitzgerald, William. 2007. Martial: The world of the epigram. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

                  DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226252568.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                  Places the epigram in a distinctly Roman context. Balances close readings of individual poems with larger analyses of Martial’s structure, traces the epigram from inscriptions to Greek epigrams, and explains what the epigram meant in a distinctly Roman context. Explores the “constituents of Martial’s epigrammatic world” (p. 106), and compares Martial with other Roman poets, especially Catullus. (See also reviews of the book by Bruce Swann, Bryn Mawr Classical Review. 2007.12.8, and Ilaria Marchesi, 2008. Bryn Mawr Classical Review, 1.23.

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                  • Sullivan, John P. 2004. Martial: the unexpected classic: A literary and historical study. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                    The first full-length study in English of Martial’s life, poetry, and politics and the survival of his books to the present, including the Later Reception of this poet up to modern times is a basic reference text on Martial. Originally published in 1991. See especially pp. 217–230, which focus on structure and form.

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                    • Watson, Patricia. 2006. Contextualising Martial’s metres. Paper presented at the international conference on Flavian poetry held at the University of Groningen in August 2003. In Flavian Poetry. Edited by Ruurd Nauta, Harm-Jan van Dam, and Johannes J. L. Smolenaars, 285–298. Mnemosyne Bibliotheca Classica Batava, Supplementum 270. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                      Reviews Martial’s various choices of meter in his epigrams.

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                      • Watson, Lindsay, and Patricia Watson. 2003. The language of the epigrams. In Martial: Select Epigrams. Edited by Lindsay Watson and Patricia Watson, 21–31. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                        This introductory text summarizes and explains language, structure, and the three meters employed by Martial.

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                        Editions

                        The complete edition of Martial’s text (in Latin only) is available in Martial 1993a, edited by W. M. Lindsay (1st ed. 1902); the Shackleton Bailey Teubner edition (Shackleton Bailey 1990); and is also still being used in the revision by Borovskij of the original Teubner edition by Wilhelm Heraeus (Martial 1976). The early edition edited by Friedlander (Martial 1896) is still considered an important source. The complete Shackleton-Bailey Loeb edition (Martial 1993b) is also available. The Soldevila edition (Martial 2004) is an edition containing the first half of the Epigrams in Spanish; the second half will be produced soon. Post 1967 has been studied by students for many years. Watson and Watson 2003 is a good selection of Martial’s Epigrams.

                        • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 1896. M. Valerii Martialis Epigrammata Libri. Edited by L. Friedlander. Leipzig: B. G. Teubner.

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                          A classic source for the text of Martial. In Latin.

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                          • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 1976. Epigrammata. Edited by Wilhelm Heraeus and Jacob Borovskij. Rev. ed. Leipzig: Teubner.

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                            Latin Text with apparatus criticus, still preferred, along with Lindsay 1993, to the Shackleton-Bailey 1990 Teubner edition. Originally published in 1925.

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                            • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 1993a. Epigrammata. Edited by W. M. Lindsay. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                              Complete Latin text with apparatus criticus, still widely used. First published in 1902.

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                              • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 1993b. Epigrams. Edited by D. R. Shackleton Bailey. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                Complete Latin text with translations on facing page.

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                                • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 2004. Marco Valerio Marcial, Epigramas. Vol. 1 (Libros 1–7). Edited and translated by R. Soldevila, R. Moreno, J. Fernándo Valverde, and E. Montrero Cartelle. Alma Mater colleccion de autores griegos y latinos. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.

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                                  This volume contains only the first half of Martial’s works; the second half should be appearing soon.

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                                  • Post, Edwin, ed. 1967. Selected epigrams of Martial. Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press.

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                                    A fine selection from all fourteen books of epigrams, in sequence, with an excellent introduction and helpful commentary, in notes at the bottom of the page. A fine teaching text, but note that the index does not distinguish the epigrams from the Liber Spectaculorum (14 and 29), which are grouped with those from Book 1. Originally published in 1909.

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                                    • Shackleton Bailey, D. R., ed. 1990. M. Valerii Martialis Epigrammata. Stuttgart: B. G. Teubner.

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                                      Latin text with apparatus criticus, meant to replace Heraeus 1925/1976 Teubner edition.

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                                      • Watson, Lindsay, and Watson, Patricia. Select epigrams. 2003. Cambridge Greek and Latin Classics. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                        Another fine teaching text, which contains selections from many of the books, with an extensive introduction, but here they are here mixed together by topic (e.g., “Martial and Poetry,” “Poet and Patron,” etc.) rather than arranged according to Martial’s sequence.

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                                        Commentaries on Individual Books of Epigrams

                                        Martial’s first (unnumbered) book, Epigrammaton Liber, is often called the Liber Spectaculorum (‘The Book of Spectacles”) celebrating the formal opening of the Colosseum. His next works were entitled Xenia (“Presents”) (84 CE), and the Apophoreta (“Presents given at Saturnalia”) (85 CE). These two books consisted of epigrams in the literal sense of the term, as they were short inscriptions to accompany the sort of gifts Romans shared at Saturnalia. Although they were among his earlier works, they were later appended to Martial’s collected works as Books 13 (Xenia) and 14 (Apophoreta). In subsequent years Martial published his Books 3–11 with regularity, but Book 12 did not appear until after Martial had left Rome and returned to Bilbilis in Spain, so that Book 12 is actually his last book. There are no current commentaries on Book 12.

                                        Liber Spectaculorum

                                        This is his first (unnumbered) book, published in 80 CE, which is called Epigrammaton Liber, or, more often the Liber Spectaculorum (‘The Book of Spectacles”) because its poems celebrated the formal opening, by Titus, in 72 CE, of the Colosseum (the “Flavian Amphitheatre”). Coleman’s 2006 text provides extensive background for Martial and his world.

                                        • Coleman, Kathleen, ed. 2006. M. Valerii Martialis Liber Spectaculorum. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                          A thorough introduction to Martial and his world, including the text, English translation, and commentary on each poem. This is the earliest of Martial’s books. This edition also contains extensive photographs, bibliography and indices.

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                                          Book 1

                                          Book 1 was published around 86 CE. It has at least thirty poems seeking or acknowledging the patronage of major figures at Rome. The preface of this book addresses the problem and defense of obscenity, but the epigrams involving sex are limited when compared with the later books. It was written a year after Domitian had made himself censor in perpetuity. Citroni 1975 provides a commentary on this book, written in Italian, whereas Howell 1980 provides a shorter commentary, written in English.

                                          Book 2

                                          Book 2, like Book 1, was published around 86 CE. It begins with Martial addressing the book itself and congratulating it on its brevity. This book, however, is an important source of information about Martial’s life, particularly in the later poems (e.g., 2.92) where he speaks of being granted the ius trium liberorum, the “right of a father of three children,” which was both an honor and also bore important financial implications with regard to inheritances and legacies. It also raises questions about whether or not Martial was married. Williams 2004 provides the Latin of Book 2 along with an English translation, with commentary following.

                                          • Williams, Craig, ed. 2004. Epigrams, Book 2. Martial. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                            This commentary has a good, albeit brief introduction that nicely delineates writers of the epigram before Martial; he particularly emphasizes the influence of Catullus as well as of Ovid and Seneca.

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                                            Book 3

                                            Martial begins Book 3, which was published late in 87 CE in modern Lombardy, by asking to whom it should be dedicated. The prime recipient of the book proves to be Faustinus, who will protect it in Rome. Fusi 2006 provides an Italian translation and commentary.

                                            • Fusi, Alessandro, ed. 2006. Epigrammaton Liber Tertius. New York: Georg Olms.

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                                              Critical edition of Book 3, with translation and commentary in Italian. This book criticizes the daily round in Rome and the poor rewards of poetry.

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                                              Book 4

                                              Book 4 was thought to have been published in December 88 CE because of the epigrams celebrating Saturnalia, although allusions in Epigram 4.11 suggest that it may have appeared at some time between the autumn of 88 CE and the spring of 89 CE. In this book Martial emerges increasingly as an apologist and propagandist for the emperor Domitian. The satiric epigrams become fewer, and there is more variety. Moreno Soldevila 2006 provides a thorough introduction, text and commentary on Book 4, with English translation facing the text.

                                              • Moreno Soldevila, Rosario, ed. 2006. Martial, Book IV: A commentary. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                Moreno Soldevila notes that, in addition to the focus on Domitian and on the question of patronage, the book also explores the themes of death and of literature.

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                                                Book 5

                                                Published perhaps for the Saturnalia in 90 CE, this book begins with an address to Domitian, who is asked to accept the volume. The book is dedicated to matrons, boys and virgins, as the sort of book Domitian could read in Minerva’s presence. The book has an unmistakable political emphasis; it’s an unusually chaste collection by the standards of Martial’s oeuvre. Howell 1995 provides a commentary with an English translation, designed largely for teachers. The new commentary of Cannobio 2011, in Italian, answers many questions remaining after Howell.

                                                • Cannobio, Alberto. 2011. M. Valerii Martialis Epigrammaton liber quintus. Studi Latini 75. Napoli: Loffredo editore.

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                                                  Much longer and more detailed than Howell, Canobbio provides a new, critical text, with detailed comparisons with Lindsay, Heraeus and Shackleton Bailey (1990). The introduction (pp. 12–58) discusses Martial’s fifth book in content, form, relation to Domitian, arrangement, date, and Saturnalian context transmission and modern textual criticism. Shows how Martial invites the new Augustus Domitian to become a new Maecenas, with Martial the poet representing the new Augustan age. Reviewed by Nina Mindt, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.09.29, pp. 634.

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                                                  • Howell, Peter, ed. and tr. 1995. Epigrams 5. Warminster, UK: Aris and Phillips.

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                                                    Originally written for the Joint Association of Classical Teachers. Howell concludes that the eighty-four poems of this book avoid the obscenity of the other books to a large extent (but Howell avoids comment on those obscenities that do slip through) because it is dedicated to the emperor Domitian. Reviewed by M. Leigh, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 1997.9.07.

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                                                    Book 6

                                                    Published in 91 CE, this book, in addition to poems relating to the emperor and his triumphs, contains a number dedicated to new patrons and friends, the most prominent being Claudius Etruscus, a rich freedman friend of the poet Statius. There is also an increase in epitaphs and other poems of mourning, possibly reflecting a postwar epidemic. Most of these epigrams are satiric, some reflecting Domitian’s new social legislation, such as the Lex Julia concerning adultery. Grewing 1997 provides a commentary on this book.

                                                    • Grewing, Farouk, ed. 1997. Martial, Buch VI (Ein Kommentar). Hypomnemeta 115. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht.

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                                                      In this commentary on Book 6, which is in German, Grewing painstakingly explains the joke in every poem and in so doing reveals many obscenities that would otherwise have been missed.

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                                                      Book 7

                                                      Book 7, published in 92 CE, focuses on the Roman court and on foreign affairs, reflecting Domitian’s long absence from Rome on campaigns against the Sarmatians and the Suebi. Domitian’s urban renewal is also given favorable attention. Themes of epigrams here also include the art of writing and its rewards, and Martial’s fame from such writing and the public’s response to him. Galán Vioque 2002 has a commentary on this book that has been translated into English by Zoltowski

                                                      • Galán Vioque, Guilllermo, ed. 2002. Martial Book VII: A commentary. Translated by J. J. Zoltowski. Mnemosyne; Supplementum. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                        Galán Vioque’s commentary on Book 7 is translated from the Spanish into English by Zoltowski. The author pays special attention to the adulation of Domitian, satirizing the lawyers, legacy-hunters, parasites and dinner guests, as well as hetero- and homosexual linguistic and metrical matters. Shackleton Bailey’s 1990 revised Teubner edition (cited under Editions) provides the Latin.

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                                                        Book 8

                                                        Published in December 94 CE, Book 8 is explicitly dedicated to Domitian; his new palace on the Palatine (8.36; 8.39), his triumphs of May 92, and the subsequent celebratory games and feasts are all highlighted, while avoiding coarse obscenity (although it does contain erotic epigrams). Schöffel 2002 provides a commentary that is a revised edition of the author’s 2001 dissertation; the author joins with several other recent commentators (see p. 15) in preferring the text of Lindsay and the Teubner of Heraeus/Borovskij to the Teubner and Loeb texts of Shackleton Bailey (cited under Editions).

                                                        • Schöffel, Christian, ed. 2002. Martial, Buch 8. Einleitung, Text, Übersetzung, Kommentar. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

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                                                          German text, translation, and commentary on Book 8. One of the largest commentaries on a single book by Martial published so far, although Book 8 actually has the fewest poems (82) of any of Martial’s twelve books of Epigrams proper, explained by its high number of “long” epigrams, rendering it near the median (720.2 verses per book) as the fifth shortest.

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                                                          Book 9

                                                          Published in 95 CE, the content of Book 9 is political, but begins with Martial’s self-congratulations for a bust of himself having been placed in a library along with other distinguished writers. He celebrates the just-completed Temple of the Flavians, and mentions Domitian’s renaming the month of October after himself and his victory over the Germans on the Rhine. These are followed by poems alluding to Domitian in various ways, from his legislation to his courtiers. Other references to military exploits are subdued; the level of obscenity has increased from Book 8 but is still restrained. Personal references to Martial are few. Henriksén 2012 provides an English commentary on Book 9 based on the Heraeus/Borovskij Teubner text with some exceptions, and with no translation; it is published in two parts (note: all references require volume numbers, as pagination is not consecutive from the first to the second part). Lorenz 2003 focuses on statuettes in the book as emblems of praise for Domitian.

                                                          • Henriksén, Christer, ed. 2012. A commentary on Martial: Epigrams, Book 9. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                            Vol. 1 contains an introduction, discussions of particular interest to the author, and text and commentary for the preface and epigrams 9.1–9.47. Vol. 2 contains text and commentary for 9.48–9.103, indices, and addenda et corrigenda to Vol. 1. Each epigram is treated with the text, as well as by a general introduction, and then with a specific commentary. The Emperor Theme of Book 9, in both the poems’ subject and in the book’s structure, is emphasized. (cf. P. J. Anderson review, BMCR 2002.5.11. First published 1998, Upsala: Upsala University.

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                                                            • Lorenz, Sven. 2003. Martial, Herkules und Domitian: Büsten, Statuetten und Statuen im “Epigrammaton Liber Nonus.” Mnemosyne 56.5: 566–584.

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                                                              In Martial’s ninth book of Epigrams two pairs of epigrams and three single poems (e. g., 9.43 and 9.44) talk of statues or statuettes (9. ep.; 23/24; 50; 64/65; 101). In these sections Martial presents and contrasts different qualities of his epigrammatic oeuvre and shows how even the lowest genre of poetry can serve as panegyric literature for the sublime emperor Domitian. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                              Book 10

                                                              Books 10 and 11 reflect a crisis in Rome (a plot and revolt against Domitian), at the end of which Martial decided to return to Spain. Sullivan 2004 (cited under The Forms and Meters of Martial’s Epigrams) deems Book 10 “one of the best of Martial’s books” (p. 44), which the author attributes to its careful reediting (p. 50). The earlier edition appeared in 95 CE, and was republished in mid-98. There, Martial announces that many of the original poems have been revised. Between the two editions, Domitian was overthrown and replaced by the Emperor Nerva, in September 96. There is no trace of this event in Martial’s writings. The only commentary on the complete book is Damschen and Heil 2004. Spisak 2002 examines the effect of the transfer of power on the poet.

                                                              • Damschen, G., and A. Heil, eds. 2004. Epigrammaton liber decimus. Das zente Epigrammbuch. Text, Übersetzung, Interpretationen. Studien zur klassischen Philologie 148. Frankfurt am Main: Lang.

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                                                                The complete text of Book 10, with translation, introduction, commentary, and bibliography, in German.

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                                                                • Spisak, Art L. 2002. The pastoral ideal in Martial, Book 10. Classical World 95.2: 127–141.

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                                                                  Examines the “unique sociopolitical setting” of Book 10, which “was first issued under Domitian, and then revised and reissued three years later under Trajan; only the revised second edition has come down to us and actually was published after Book 11.12.” (p. 127). Spisak deliberates on the political and historical reason for the poet’s ambivalence about whether to stay or depart from Rome. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                  Book 11

                                                                  Book 11 was put together in December 96 CE, in time for Saturnalia, which it takes as its theme, including the freedom the festival bestows on the poet. All the poems that honored Domitian were replaced, carefully, by a few about Nerva, the new emperor. The book contains more obscene poems that any other book, possibly because Martial believed in the tolerance of Nerva, who himself wrote erotic elegies. Martial treads cautiously, however, since he is still associated with the old regime. Kay 1985 includes a full commentary on each epigram, with the Latin text and English translation.

                                                                  • Kay, Nigel M. 1985. Martial Book XI: A commentary. London: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                    Kay’s introduction discusses the form and structure of the epigram, charts the history of the genre before Martial, and examines his influence on later literature.

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                                                                    Book 13, The Xenia

                                                                    Martial’s second and third books, respectively, were The Xenia, “gifts for guests” (later numbered “Book 13”), and The Apophoreta, “presents for guests to carry home with them” (later numbered “Book 14”). The two books appeared in December 85 CE. The Xenia describes presents of food and drink, beginning with incense for sacrifice to the Lares (the Roman household gods) and rose garlands for the guests. The book proceeds to describe the principal course of an expensive Roman dinner. Leary 2001 provides Latin text, commentary, and translation of Book 13.

                                                                    • Leary, Timothy J., ed. 2001. Martial Book XIII: The Xenia. London: Duckworth.

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                                                                      Leary’s book contains the Latin text of Book 13 with English commentary and translation, including a description of the food and drink given.

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                                                                      Book 14, The Apophoreta

                                                                      Book 14 (actually Martial’s third book, written after the Xenia) is known also as The Apophoreta, which refers to the dinner favors for guests to take home after the dinner. Martial splits the objects into groups. For example, there are three sets of Epigrams about writing materials; two sets about household equipment and tools; two about lighting paraphernalia and tableware, two about toilet articles; two about pets, and two about artistic productions and literary works. Leary 1996 provides the Latin text of Book 14, with commentary and translation.

                                                                      • Leary, Timothy J., ed. 1996. Martial Book XIV: The Apophoreta. London: Duckworth.

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                                                                        This book describes miscellaneous gifts, which might be distributed to dinner guests to take home, reflecting the Roman passion for gift giving. Leary explains these gifts in his commentary.

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                                                                        Translations

                                                                        A number of translations, usually individual books or selections, are available. This section includes only a few. Martial 2002, translated by James Michie, is accompanied by short introductory notes. Martial 1993a is a general selection, sampling from a wide range of poets and translators. Martial 1987, edited by John P. Sullivan, is a larger volume with a more limited range. Martial 1993b, the Shackleton Bailey 1993 Loeb translation, is based on the Shackleton Bailey’s 1990 edition of the text (cited under Editions).

                                                                        • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 1987. Epigrams of Martial. Selected and edited by John P. Sullivan, Peter Whigham, et al. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                          Interesting collection of various, famous English versions with parallel Latin Text. Advisable to read with Martial 1993b.

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                                                                          • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 1993a. Epigrams. Translated and edited by D. R. Shackleton Bailey. Loeb Classical Library. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

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                                                                            A complete collection, in three volumes, replacing the 1925 Loeb edition by W. C. A. Kerr, with Latin on the facing page. Also cited under Editions.

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                                                                            • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 1993b. Martial in English. Translated by John P. Sullivan and A. J. Boyle. Poets in Translation series, Penguin Classics. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin.

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                                                                              This book, part of the Penguin “Poets in Translation” series, seeks like others in the series to offer, within one volume per poet, the best verse translations of major classical and European poets through the ages. This collection covers about a hundred different translators, from 1540–1992.

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                                                                              • Martial, Marcus Valerius. 2002. Epigrams. Translated by James Michie. New York: Modern Library.

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                                                                                Translation, with a parallel Latin text, is good, however the rhyming couplet certainly does Martial’s epigrams a grave injustice. An anglicized translation of selections of Martial’s epigrams, with a tendency to omit names that do not fit the meter. The Latin is on the facing page. Originally published in 1972; introductory notes by Shadi Bartsch and Peter Howell are added here.

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                                                                                Intertexts

                                                                                Colton 1991, preceded by Colton 1966, is a major treatment of the important Juvenal/Martial interaction. Malnati 1987 questions some of these congruities. Hinds 2007, Lorenz 2007, Swann 1994, and Pitcher 1998 fruitfully discuss Catullus and Ovid as well, for generic and other reasons, in intertextual or receptive terms. A major “influence” on Martial is the near-contemporary Greek epigrammatist Lucillius (see Nisbet 2003), who along with Martial developed the biting or witty closure we now so generally associate with the epigram (see also Fitzgerald 2007 cited under Forms and Meters of Martial’s Epigrams). Lorenz 2005 tries to identify the “Canius Rufus” that appears in Martial’s epigrams.

                                                                                • Colton, Robert E. 1966. Juvenal and Martial on the equestrian order. Classical Journal 61.4: 157–159.

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                                                                                  Colton argues that both Juvenal and Martial are scornful of those who rise to equestrian status, an argument later disputed in Malnati 1987. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                  • Colton, Robert E. 1991. Juvenal’s use of Martial’s epigrams: A study of literary influence. Amsterdam: A. M. Hakkert.

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                                                                                    Colton analyzes fully the interface between these two poets.

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                                                                                    • Hinds, Stephen. 2007. Martial’s Ovid / Ovid’s Martial. Journal of Roman Studies 97.1: 113–154.

                                                                                      DOI: 10.1017/S0075435800014891Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                      Allows Martial to shape a reading of Ovid with allusions to and adaptations of Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, Tristia, and Metamorphoses, and explores the notion of Ovidian reception in the later poet. Also includes reading of Martial’s Liber Spectaculorum and Apophoreta. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                      • Lorenz, Sven. 2005. Martial and the writer Canius Rufus. Paper presented at the international conference on Flavian poetry held at the University of Groningen in August 2003. In Flavian poetry. Edited by Ruurd Nauta, Harm-Jan van Dam, and Johannes J. L. Smolenaars, 315–328. Mnemosyne Bibliotheca Classica Batava, Supplementum 270. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                        Concludes that although “Canius Rufus” may have written light verse, there is no evidence for him outside Martial’s corpus. Lorenz suggests that references to Canius in Martial’s epigrams all refer to the same person.

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                                                                                        • Lorenz, Sven. 2007. Catullus and Martial. In A companion to Catullus. Blackwell Companions to the Ancient World. Edited by Marilyn Skinner, 700–736. Malden, MA: Blackwell.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.1002/9780470751565Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          Examines how Martial’s self-presentation relates to that of Catullus. Argues that Martial adapts Catullus to his own period by turning himself into the new Catullus, and Catullus into an epigrammatist (p. 434)

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                                                                                          • Malnati, T. P. 1987. Juvenal and Martial on social mobility. Classical Journal 83.2: 133–141.

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                                                                                            Disputes Colton’s theory that Martial and Juvenal sneer at social upstarts. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                            • Nisbet, Gideon. 2003. Greek epigram in the Roman Empire: Martial’s forgotten rivals. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                              DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199263370.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                              Considers the history and development of epigrams in Greek during the Roman Empire, focusing on the skeptic epigrams of the Greek Anthology.

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                                                                                              • Pitcher, R. A. 1998. Martial’s debt to Ovid. In Toto Notus in Orbe: Perspektiven der Martial-Interpretation. Edited by Farouk Grewing. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag.

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                                                                                                Pitcher’s account of the relationship between Martial and Ovid is more traditional than that of Hinds 2007.

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                                                                                                • Swann, Bruce W. 1994. Martial’s Catullus: The reception of an epigrammatic rival. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms.

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                                                                                                  Swann’s thesis is that the current view of Catullus would scarcely have been recognized by Martial, who viewed Catullus as his literary inspiration. The second half of the book deals with Martial’s reception in post-Renaissance Europe.

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                                                                                                  Larger Scale Structures

                                                                                                  Johannsen 2006 investigates the “paratextual frame,” the predominantly Flavian phenomenon of a prose preface to a poetic work, employed in Silvae and Epigrams. Scherf 2001 attempts to answer the question as to how Martial arranged his books.

                                                                                                  • Johannsen, Nina. 2006. Dichter über ihre Gedichte: Die Prosavorreden in den ‘Epigrammaton libri’ Martials und in den ‘Silvae’ des Statius. Hypomnemata, Heft 166. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

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                                                                                                    This theoretical foundation is based on Paratexts. Thresholds of interpretation (Gérard Genette [originally Seuils. Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 1987]; translated by Jane Lewin, Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997) and on W. Wolf’s “Framing Fiction” (“Framing Fiction. Reflections on a Narratological Concept and an Example: Bradbury, Mensonge.” In Grenzüberschreitungen: Narratologie im Kontext/Transcending Boundaries: Narratology in Context, W. Grünzweig and A. Solbach (eds), 97–124. Tübingen, 1999) Reviewed by Farouk F. Grewing, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2007.07.10.

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                                                                                                    • Scherf, Johannes. 2001. Untersuchungen zur Buchgestaltung Martials. Beiträge zur Altertumskunde 142. Munich: K. G. Saur.

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                                                                                                      In recent years the question as to how Martial arranged his books has been tackled by a relatively small number of scholars, and these have followed varying methodological approaches. Scherf’s study consists of summaries of individual epigrams and long lists of poems that he attributes to different structural categories. The book is most useful for the scholar who is interested in a specific structural phenomenon and needs a complete collection of all relevant passages from Martial’s works. Reviewed by S. Lorenz, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2001.10.22.

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                                                                                                      Interplay Between the Real World and the Literary World

                                                                                                      Garthwaite 2001 also, in somewhat different terms, addresses the nature and composition of Book Two. Sullivan 1989 undertakes a technical analysis of Martial’s wit and humor. Vallat 2008 draws out larger thematic, social, political, and other implications. Stroup 2005 discusses Martial’s perception of the value of his poems. Johannsen 2006 examines prose prefaces in Martial and Statius. Watson 2005 takes issue with structures that have long been imposed on the epigrams.

                                                                                                      • Fowler, Don. 1995. Martial and the book. Ramus 24.1: 31–58.

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                                                                                                        Fowler challenges the widely held view by critics that among critics that Martial’s poems must be understood to have appeared first in small collections or “brochures.” Peter White, a leading proponent of this view, responds in the article cited below. Republished in A. J. Boyle (ed.), Roman Literature and Ideology: Ramus Essays for J.P. Sullivan. Bendigo, Australia, pp. 199–226.

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                                                                                                        • Garthwaite, John. 2001. Reevaluating epigrammatic cycles in Martial, Book 2. Ramus 30.1: 46–55.

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                                                                                                          Examines cycles of epigrams in Book 2 by themes and individuals, and argues that the book is not an unstructured amalgam of older material.

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                                                                                                          • Johannsen, Nina. 2006. Dichter über ihre Gedichte: Die Prosvorreden in den “Epigrammaton Libri” Martials und in den Silvae des Statius. Göttingen, Germany: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht.

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                                                                                                            The prose prefaces to Martial’s Epigram books 1, 2, 8, 9, and 12 and Statius’ Silvae, which have thus far received little systematic attention, are exceptions in ancient literature. No transmitted evidence of such prose prefaces to poetry books exists before Martial and Statius, Johannsen examines the framing of these prose prefaces and their relationship to metapoetic passages within the epigrams.

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                                                                                                            • Stroup, Sarah C. 2005. Invaluable collections: The illusion of poetic presence in Martial’s Xenia and Apophoreta. Paper presented at the international conference on Flavian poetry held at the University of Groningen in August 2003. In Flavian poetry. Edited by Ruurd Nauta, Harm-Jan van Dam, and Johannes J. L. Smolenaars, 299–319. Mnemosyne Bibliotheca Classica Batava, Supplementum 270. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                              Stroup observes that although previous literary tradition could equate poetry with gifts, Martial’s suggestion was that poetry about a gift-object might provide a reasonable economic substitute for that gift-object itself. Though the foods described in the Xenia are perishable, the poems themselves will endure. A briefer coda discusses the Apophoreta, whose distichs create the illusion that gifts of greatly differing value have been rendered “effectively interchangeable.”

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                                                                                                              • Sullivan, John P. 1989. Martial’s “witty conceits”: Some technical observations. Illinois Classical Studies 14.1/2: 185–199.

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                                                                                                                A useful analysis of the elements in Martial’s humor, including his use of surprise, paradox, wordplay, analogic metaphors and similes, along with various rhetorical devices. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                • Vallat, Daniel. 2008. Onomastique, culture et société dans les épigrammes de Martial. Collection Latomus 313. Brussels: Editions Latomus.

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                                                                                                                  Multidimensional examination of proper names, their metaphorical use, and their functionality in the epigrams.

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                                                                                                                  • Watson, Lindsay C. 2005. The unity of Martial’s epigrams. Paper presented at the international conference on Flavian poetry held at the University of Groningen in August 2003. In Flavian poetry. Edited by Ruurd Nauta, Harm-Jan van Dam, and Johannes J. L. Smolenaars, 271–284. Mnemosyne Bibliotheca Classica Batava, Supplementum 270. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

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                                                                                                                    Compares G. E. Lessing’s theory that form rather than subject matter defines an epigram. Lessing considered Martial the supreme practitioner of the genre. Watson examines Lessing’s view and other more recent theories about the genre and its workings.

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                                                                                                                    The Poet and His Patron

                                                                                                                    In some collections, such as his first (unnumbered) book, the Liber Spectaculorum, the ironic or satirical characteristic of Martial’s epigrams is less overt than in others, probably because of the subject—“Caesar” (see Coleman 2006, pp. xiv–lxiv). Which Caesar he refers to with this term appears to vary with respect to the time period in which Martial is writing, so that, for example, “Caesar” in his first book would appear to be the emperor Titus, whereas in other books it refers to Domitian (particularly in Books 1–9) or Nerva (Books 10–11). Closely linked to this is the question of the extent to which his poetry is driven by patronage. Another frequently debated question concerns whether the first-person speaker in the Epigrams refers to Martial or to a persona he created for this purpose. In many of his poems the persona does seem to be Martial himself (see Watson and Watson 2003, pp. 5–7, cited under Forms and Meters of Martial’s Epigrams). On the other hand, as Coleman 2006 observes (pp. lxxxi-lxxxiv), there is a striking absence of the first person poet in the first book of his epigrams. Garthwaite 1998 discusses patronage and poems openly written to cultivate it; this is also the basis for Roman 2001. Byrne 2004 finds Martial using Maecenas as a model of patronage, which contrasts with the condition of poets in his time. Roman 2001 and Seo 2009 consider the degree to which Martial viewed his poems as a commodity, while White 1974 and White 1975 examine the role of amicitia in the patronage relationship.

                                                                                                                    • Byrne, Shannon N. 2004. Martial’s fiction: Domitius Marsus and Maecenas. Classical Quarterly 54.1: 255–265.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1093/cq/54.1.255Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Martial adopted themes that had begun in previous generations about Maecenas’ generosity as a patron, in contrast to his own penurious situation. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                      • Coleman, Kathleen M. 2006. The identity of Caesar. In M. Valerii Martialis Liber Spectaculorum. Edited by Kathleen Coleman, xlv–lxiv. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                        The extensive, 86-page introduction is quite useful, not only for this particular book, but is also relevant to many aspects of Martial’s other Satires, including the identities of which “Caesar” is implied, and of the persona of Martial’s satires in general.

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                                                                                                                        • Garthwaite, John. 1998. Patronage and poetic immortality in Martial, Book 9. Mnemosyne 51.2: 161–175.

                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1163/1568525982611542Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                          Focuses on the context of Martial’s poems, especially 9.48–9.60, where the poet draws a contrast between the richness of his gifts of poetry and his own incessant poverty (p. 165); also argues that even admirers like Pliny (Epist. 3.21), who wrote an obituary for the poet, do not fully appreciate Martial’s longevity based on the value of his poems (p. 175). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                          • Roman, Luke. 2001. The representation of literary materiality in Martial’s epigrams. Journal of Roman Studies 91:113–145.

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                                                                                                                            In 12.95, in his last book, Martial denigrates his work: quid minus esse potest? Argues that the epigrammatist registers his genre’s formal rank, developing fictional scenarios that reveal the nature of his works and their role in society. A subtle, detailed “fiction” of Martial’s epigrams’ functionality as an item of patronage exchange versus the traditionally larger claims and ambitions of personal poetry. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                            • Seo, J. Mira. 2009. Plagiarism and poetic identity in Martial. American Journal of Philology 130.4: 567–593.

                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1353/ajp.0.0084Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                              Martial is the first classical poet to use the term plagiarius to refer to literary theft (ep. 1.52). He frequently accuses other poets of appropriating or copying his work. His explicit references to plagiarism illustrate a poetic self-identity invested in the materiality of his texts. By defining his poetry as material commodities available for purchase or theft, Martial also exposes the economic fictions of Roman literary patronage. Available online by subscription.

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                                                                                                                              • White, Peter, 1974. The presentation and dedication of the Silvae and the Epigrams. Journal of Roman Studies 64:40–61.

                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.2307/299259Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                White argues that the poets’ published books were only their last and least important means of presenting poems to patrons, arguing that the poems were primarily communicated via recitation, impromptu performance, and private brochure. He then examines a special form of presentation, the book-dedication, and explores the contrast between the dedication methods of Martial and Statius. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                • White, Peter. 1975. The friends of Martial, Statius, and Pliny and the dispersal of patronage. Harvard Studies in Classical Philology 79:265–300.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.2307/311139Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  Roman poetry, like Roman politics, owed much of its structure to the ties of amicitia. The less formal genres of writing White views as a social as much as a private undertaking. He undertakes to study this little-studied “dinner-table dilettantism” of the age of Statius and Martial, “the only . . . period (other than that of Maecenas) for which information about friends and patrons is available in quantity” (p. 265). Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                  Gender and Sexuality

                                                                                                                                  Studies in gender and sexuality in literature have tended to focus on Greek rather than Roman literature. Richlin 1992 focused on this topic in Latin literature, particularly with respect to the god Priapus. Williams 2010 and Obermayer 1998 extended the focus on the topic in Roman literature, particularly with respect to the Roman lyric and epigram.

                                                                                                                                  • Obermayer, H. P. 1998. Martial und der Diskurs über männliche “Homosexualität” in der Literatur der frühen Kaiserzeit. Classica Monacensia 18. Tübingen, Germany: Narr Verlag.

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                                                                                                                                    Obermayer makes a breakthrough here by studying homosexuality in Roman rather than Greek literature. He attempts to analyze the various homoerotic themes and motifs in Martial and related literature by comparing the epigrams to earlier and contemporary literature, in particular Catullus, Petronius, the Carmina Priapea and the pederastic poems of the Greek Anthology. Reviewed by C. Nappa 1999 in The Classical Review 49.2: 570.

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                                                                                                                                    • Richlin, Amy. 1992. The garden of Priapus: Sexuality and aggression in Roman humor. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                      Richlin argues that the attitude of sexual aggressiveness in defense of a bounded area, like the statues of the god Priapus warding off thieves, serves as a model for Roman satire from Lucilius to Juvenal. On the basis of literary, anthropological, psychological, and feminist methodologies, she suggests that aggressive sexual humor reinforces aggressive behavior on both the individual and societal levels, and that Roman satire provides an insight into Roman culture.

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                                                                                                                                      • Williams, Craig A. 2010. Roman homosexuality. 2d ed. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                        First published in 1999, Williams’ book “extends the time period of Dover’s Greek Homosexuality of twenty years earlier” (p. 253) from the classical Greek world to include the Roman world. New to the second edition is post-1999 scholarship, a Foreword by Martha Nussbaum, the author’s Afterword to the second edition, and a new Appendix (no. 4), “Pompeiian Graffiti in Context.” Reviewed in Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2010.07.51 by Beert Verstraete, Acadia University.

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                                                                                                                                        Later Reception

                                                                                                                                        Martial’s influence continued well into the 17th and 18th centuries, where he was imitated by some of the great British writers of that period. Alexander Pope is believed to have modeled some of his works, such as the “Rape of the Lock,” even more directly on those of Martial. Nixon 1963 examines Martial’s influence on some of these writers, as does Sullivan 1990 briefly, and then, more extensively, Sullivan 1993.

                                                                                                                                        • Nixon, Paul. 1963. Martial and the modern epigram. New York: Cooper Square.

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                                                                                                                                          Some selections and examples of Martial’s epigrams and their influence on Pope, Dryden, Porson, Dobson, and Bacon.

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                                                                                                                                          • Sullivan, John P. 1990. Martial and English poetry. Classical Antiquity 9.1: 149–174.

                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.2307/25010924Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                            A good survey of Martial’s important presence in English literature up to and including the 20th century, but in particular his influence on the development of English verse culminating in the heroic couplets of Dryden, Pope, and Augustan verse. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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                                                                                                                                            • Sullivan, John P. 1993. Martial. New York: Garland.

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                                                                                                                                              Excellent discussion of Martial’s overall reception. It also contains a short set of essays by others representing late 20th century critical views.

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