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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
  • LATIN
  • ENGLISH
  • METRICS

13

Who, Julia,  would not think you were formed by the Phidian chisel,

  Or who would not think you a work of Pallas’art ?

The bright Lygdian marble, answers, in an image not silent

  And a living elegance shines in a placid mouth.

The hand, but not at all rough, plays with the Acidalian girdle,

   Which it snatched from your neck, little Cupid.

So that the love of Mars and of the greatest Thunderer may be recalled

 Let Juno and Venus herself seek the girdle, from you.

XIII meter: Elegiac Couplet

Quīs tē|Phī dĭ ă|cō fōr|mā tām| Iū lĭ ă, |cǣ lō,

  Vēl quīs |Pāl lă dĭ|ǣ ||nōn pŭ tĕt|ār tĭs ŏ|pūs?

Cān dĭ dă |nōn tă cĭ|tā rēs|pōn dĕtĭ|mā gĭ nĕ|lȳg dŏs

  Ēt plă cĭ|dō fūl|gēt||vī vŭsĭn|ō rĕ dĕ|cōr.

Lū dĭt Ă|cī dă lĭ|ō, sēd |nōn mă nŭs|ās pĕ ră,|nō dō,

  Quēm ră pŭ|īt cōl|lō, ||pār vĕ Cŭ|pī dŏ, tŭ|ō.

Ūt Mār|tīs rĕ vŏ|cē tŭrăm|ōr sūm|mī quĕ Tŏ|nān tĭs,

  Ā tē |Iū nŏ pĕ|tāt ||cēst ŏn ĕt |īp să Vĕ|nŭs.


 
EPIGRAM VI.13

 

SUMMARY
This poem is another wave of flattery to Domitian, praising his beautiful niece, Julia. The poem begins by addressing Julia directly, asking her if anyone could possibly refuse to think that she was created from Phidias’ chisel. This is a huge compliment, as Phidias was one of the greatest sculptors of the ancient world, known best for the “colossal-sized statue of Zeus in the Temple of Zeus at Olympia and the director of construction of the Parthenon” ("Phidias." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 15 April. 2009 <http://www.britannica.com/ EBchecked/ topic/455782/Phidias>). It is said that he was one of very few who actually saw the face of the gods, allowing him to create accurate portrayals of the deities. By portraying such accurate descriptions, the compliment of resembling such work is more valuable. The next line includes a reference of Pallas’ art. This entails another reference of “Athena as Domitian’s patron goddess, with a possible reason for this being his love of the arts, specifically poetry” (Sullivan, J. P. Martial, the Unexpected Classic: A Literary and Historical Study. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, 1991.)

Lines three and four compare Julia to Lygdian marble, a stone “known for its gleaming whiteness” (Watson, Lindsay and Patricia. Martial: Select Epigrams. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.), and that a complexion that pure cannot stay silent, but speaks by simply being so beautiful.  Julia is then compared to Acidalia, or Venus, wearing her girdle, a tool that makes her irresistible to men, for her beauty is so radiant, it is as if she possesses the girdle. Powerful gods such as Mars and Jupiter, or the Thunderer, are said to have needed “their love recalled” (6.13.7), and the goddesses Juno and Venus are no match for Julia’s beauty that they must wear the girdle to retrieve their lovers.

Ultimately, this laudatory poem for Domitian’s niece is another way to ask for favors in the future.



"Phidias." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 15 April. 2009 <http://www.britannica.com/ EBchecked/topic/455782/Phidias>).

Sullivan, J. P. Martial, the Unexpected Classic: A Literary and Historical Study. Cambridge [England]:
Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Watson, Lindsay and Patricia. Martial: Select Epigrams. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.


K. Young


 
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