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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
  • LATIN
  • ENGLISH
  • METRICS

16

You who frightens men with a penis and sodomites with a sickle,
You watch a few acres of the place set aside alone.
Thus old thieves do not enter your orchards,
But boy and a beatiful girl with long hair do.

XVI  meter: Elegiac Couplet

Tū quī|pē nĕ vĭ|rōs tēr|rēs ēt|fāl cĕ cĭ|naē dōs,
      Iū gĕ ră|sē pŏ sĭ|tī||paū că tŭ|ē rĕ sŏ|lī.
Sīc tŭ ă| nōn īn|trēnt vē|tū lĭ pŏ|mā rĭ ă|fū rēs,
     Sēd pŭĕr| ēt lōn|gīs ||pūl chră pŭ|ēl lă cŏ|mīs.


 
EPIGRAM VI.16

 

SUMMARY
The poem addresses a garden statue of Priapus, the male fertility god and protector of orchards and gardens. The statue’s job is to keep away thieves and birds (Vergil, Georgics 4.110). Men are to be warded off by the statue’s oversized phallus, which is traditionally depicted as erect (Priapo. Pompei, casa dei Vettii (VI 15,1), fauces IV stile. National Archaeological Musem, Naples). A sickle deters sodomites from entering the garden, in fear of being castrated by the god. Priapic statues were also expected to promote healthy production within the garden (Vergil, Eclogues, 7.33). Priapus statues being unable to protect their gardens are a common theme in Roman literature (see Martial, Epigrammata 6.72 & Horace, Satires 1.8). This particular Priapus is not frightening away young boys and girls. Martial seems to be implying that the Priapus has taken a fancy to young boys and girls. Whether the children are slaves or not is unclear.  


D. Droggitis


 
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