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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
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27

Twice neighboring Nepos– for you too in the neighborhood of Flora

dwell and you also dwell in old Ficeliae –

You have a daughter, who is marked by paternal likeness of face,

As witness to maternal chastity.

Nevertheless you don’t spare too much the Falernian old beyond measure,

And rather leave behind wine jars filled with coins.

Let her be dutiful, let her be rich, but let the girl drink unfermented wine:

the amphora along with its mistress now young will become old.

Let the Caecuban vintage nourish not only childless men:

Even fathers are able to live it up, believe me.

XXVII        Meter: Elegiac Couplet

  Bīs vī|cī nĕ Nĕp|ōs – nām|tū quŏ quĕ|prō xĭ mă|Flō rǣ

  īn cŏ lĭs|ēt vĕ tĕ|rēs|tū quŏ quĕ|Fī cĕ lĭ|ās –  

ēst tĭ bĭ,|quǣ pă trĭ|ā sīg|nā tŭr ĭ|mā gĭ nĕ |vōl tūs,

  Tēs tīs|mā tērn|ǣ||nā tă pŭ|dī cĭ tĭ|ǣ.

Tū tă mĕn|ān nō|sō nĭ mĭ|ūm nē|pār cĕ Făl|ēr nō,

  ēt pŏ tĭ|ūs plē|nōs||ǣ rĕ rĕ|līn quĕ că|dōs.

Sīt pĭ ă,|sīt lŏ cŭ|plēs, sēd|pō tēt|fī lĭ ă|mūs tŭm:

  ām phŏ ră|cūm dŏ mĭ|nā||nūnc nŏvă|fī ĕt ăn|ūs.

Cǣ cŭ bă| nōn sōl|ōs vīn|dē mĭ ă|nū trĭ ăt|ōr bōs:

  Pōs sūnt|ēt pārt|ēs||vī vĕ rĕ,|crē dĕ-mĭ|hĭ.


 
EPIGRAM VI.27

 

SUMMARY
In this poem, Martial mocks a wife who while faithful to her husband, as proven by a daughter that shares his facial features, prefers much more to drink wine. This continues Martial’s rants against women, but it a less severe way. Indeed, in the final line of the poem, Martial suggests that the husband himself might enjoy sharing in his wife’s vice.

Of particular note in this poem is Martial’s attention to wine, and which wine should be rationed, and which it is permissible to guzzle freely. Tu tamen annoso nimium ne parce Falerno, he chides the wife, as she downs one amphora after another of decadent Falernian. potius plenos aere relinque cados he suggests. Leave the jars filled with coins, so great was the expense of drinking all that wine, he implies. “Falernian wine, from northern Campania , was not necessarily the best available, but it enjoyed an outstanding reputation.” (Leary 36). Also “Falernian was noted for its fiery quality which rendered it undrinkable when young and meant that it was diluted/snow-tempered when mature” (Leary 37). Martial reflects this matron in the nature of the Falernian. potet filia mustum / Amphora cum domina nunc nova fiet anus. Martial says the young mistress, like the young, undiluted Falernian, shows much fiery passion, making it, and her, too intense to be truly enjoyed. But the vices of the woman, like the dissatisfactory qualities of the Falernian will mellow with age.

Caecuban wines varied quite a bit from Falernian, in fact, almost the opposite. Where Falernian lived up to its reputation, the “quality [of Caecuban wine]was compromised in the first century by poor husbandry.” (Leary 38). Yet Martial calls back to the prior glory of this wine claiming that it is more fit for men such as Nepos than his wife and daughter.

Nepos himself, to whom the poem is addressed presents a bit of a puzzle. All we know for such is that “Nepos has a daughter who is witness to her mother's virtue” (McIntosh 32). This name, Nepos, harkens back again to Catullan roots when the “Neposes [were] the literate elders of Rome .” (Elder 143). Nepos, in the time of Catullus was a friend of Cicero and Atticus, and Catullus sought to cultivate a friendship with him. (Elder 147). And from some accounts, “Nepos thought Catullus a very good poet,” (Elder 147).  Thus Catullus reached out to Nepos as a potential patron. Given Martial’s history of reflecting pseudonyms found in Catullan works, it is likely that this Nepos, if not already a respect patron of Martial, soon may be one.

Bibliography:

Elder, J.P. “Catullus I, His Poetic Creed, and Nepos.” Harvard Studies in Classical Philology. Volume 71. Department of the Classics, Harvard University . 1967. pages 143-149.

Leary, T.J. “Martial’s Christmas Winelist.” Greece & Rome, second series. Volume 46 Number 1. Cambridge University Press. April 1999. pages 34-41.

McIntosh, Gillian E. “An Investigation of Female Personae in the Epigrams of Martial.” Thesis submitted to Department of Classics in Queen’s University. Kingston , Ontario , Canada . 1997. page 32, 80.

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

A. Galica-Cohen


 
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