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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
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  • METRICS

3

Be born, name promised to the Trojan Iulus,

     True offspring of the gods: be born, great boy:

To whom the father may hand over the eternal reins after generations,

     And who, as an old man, may rule the world with an older man.

Julia herself will pull the golden threads with her snowy thumb for you

     And she will spin the entire sheep of Phrixus.

III meter: Elegiac Couplet

Nās cĕ rĕ| Dār dă nĭ|ō prō|mīs sūm| nō mēn| Iū lō,

  Vē ră dĕ|ūm sŭ bŏ|lēs:|| nās cĕ rĕ,| māg nĕ pŭ|ēr:

Cuī pă tĕr| āe tēr|nās pōst| sāe cŭ lă| trā dăt hă|bē nās,

  Quī quĕ rĕ|gās ōr|bēm|| cūm sĕ nĭ|ōrĕ sĕ|nēx.

Īp să tĭ|bī nĭ vĕ|ā tră hĕt| aū rĕă| pōl lĭ cĕ| fī lā

  ēt tō|tām Phrī|xī|| Iū lĭ ă| nē bĭt ŏ|vĕm.

 

 
EPIGRAM VI.3

 

SUMMARY
This panegyric epigram is purposefully situated between two epigrams which both deal with the lex Iulia. Martial praises Domitian frequently throughout the Epigrammata, and, most frequently, in Book 6. This time, he praises Domitian for attempting to have a lawful son in accordance with the rules set forth in the lex Iulia. However, this epigram calls to mind theories of Domitian's relationship with his niece Julia. Many believe that they had a sexual relationship, which would have been not only adulterous but also incestuous, violating the strict moral codes in the lex Iulia. In light of this possible relationship, this epigram can be read in several different ways. First, it is possible that these stories are untrue and were spread by a subsuquent emperor (possibly Trajan) to blacken Domitian's name. This is unlikely, however. This leads us to a second theory that the rumors were already circulating when Martial wrote this epigram but that he had not heard them, and therefore this poem is sincere in its praise of Domitian. Like the first theory, this one is not likely either. The third theory is that the rumors were already circulating and that Martial had heard them. If this is true, we can't be certain whether or not he believed them, and thus, whether or not this epigram was written in jest or not. Martial may have chosen to not believe the rumors and to continue his praise of Domitian's morality, or he may have written this epigram as a mockery (Nuurd)
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Domitian only had one son, who died in childhood. This son was born in 73 and therefore, was not the son mentioned in this book (Life of Domitian). The son that Martial writes about never seems to have been born, unfortunately.



Nauta, Ruurd R. Poetry for Patrons. New York: Brill Academic Publishers, 2000.

Robertson, D. S. "The Flight of Phrixus." The Classical Review, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Mar., 1940), pp. 1-8

Suetonius, Life of Domitian.


K. Renner


 
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