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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
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37

Charinus having been cut from the ass hole all the way to the navel, 

He has no remains,

And he longs for all that up to the navel.

Oh how greatly he labors with the wretched itch!

Not having an anus, he is still a fag.

XXXVII Meter: Hendecasyllabic

Sēc tī |pō dĭ cĭs|ūs que̸ ͜ăd/|ūm bĭ|lī cūm

Nūl lās| rē lĭ quĭ|ās hă|bēt Chă|rī nŭs,
ēt prū|rīt tă mĕn|ūs que̸ ͜ăd|ūm bĭ|lī cŭm.
ō quān|tā scă bĭ|ē mĭ|sēr lă|bō rāt!

Cū lūm|nōn hă bĕt,|ēst tă|mēn cĭ|nǣ dŭs.


 
EPIGRAM VI.37

 

SUMMARY

In this poem, Charinus has been cut from his anus all the way up to his belly button.  This poem however does not focus on why this was done or what happened before it.  It suggests that Charinus enjoys receiving anal sex.  The poem gets increasingly severe in tone as it starts with the mild and more medical term of podicis and ends on the vulgar culum and cinaedus.  The large size of Charinus’ anus may be due to the fact that he has engaged in sodomy so many times that he has been stretched all the way to his navel.  Martial employs mock sympathy for Charinus yet is delivering a sort of threat at the same time.  In The Garden of Priapus by Amy Richlin, she writes that if this was not fiction and the act actually carried out it would be a fatal wound to the penetrated male, and thus is a sadistic desire.  And this, unlike the mockery in the saying “he has no carving knife, yet he is a butcher” is not a simple joke on someone, it is a slur.  It may also have huge legal implications.  Martial is making a serious threat here.  Any man who played the “part of a female” in intercourse and was not a boy slave could have legal action taken against them under the lex Scantinia.  (Richlin, Amy. The garden of Priapus: sexuality and aggression in Roman humor. 2nd. New York: Oxford University Press US, 1992.)
           

Martial did not view sodomites kindly, especially women.  However, his view of homosexuality was pretty consistent with that of most other ancient Romans.  He seems perfectly fine with the keeping of young boy slaves as catamites (Book 1, poem 92).  So why is Charinus any different?  The answer is this.  He favors excess.  Charinus has not committed sodomy only once.  He must be a repeat offender in order that his anus be so large.  Martial like other Romans saw excess as a horrible quality and favored things in moderation.  (Sullivan, J.P., and Peter Whigham. Epigrams of Martial Englished by Divers Hands. 1st. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.)

Richlin, Amy. The garden of Priapus: sexuality and aggression in Roman humor. 2nd. New York: Oxford University Press US, 1992.

Sullivan, J.P., and Peter Whigham. Epigrams of Martial Englished by Divers Hands. 1st. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987.



 
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E. Craig