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Wordle: Martial VI 



You believe that you jest, wittily Calliodorus

And that you alone have been soaked with much wit

You smile at all, you say witty sayings against everyone;

So you think that you are able to please the table guest.

But if I have said something not prettily, but truely

No one will pass a cup to you, Calliodorus.

XLIV meter: Elegiac Couplet

Fē stī}vē crē|dīs tē,|Cāl lĭ ŏ|dō rĕ, iŏ|cā rī

    ēt sō|lūm mūl|tō ||pēr mă dŭ|īs sĕ să|lĕ.  

ōm nĭ bŭs|ād rī|dēs, dīc|tē rĭ ă|dī cĭs ĭn|ōm nīs;

   Sīc tē|cōn vī|vām||pōs sĕ plă|cē rĕ pŭ|tās

āt si̸ ͜ĕ gŏ|nōn bēl|lē, sēd|vē rē|dī xĕ rŏ|quīd dām,

   Nē mŏ prŏ|pī nā|bīt,||Cāl lĭ ŏ|dō rĕ, tĭ|bĭ.




Roman dinner parties were typically an extravagant affair.  At Nero’s dinner parties, whom Martial did not favor, he would shower his guests with perfume from the ceiling and had a ceiling that was spun by slaves to imitate the evening sky.  There was a strict order to the dinner parties.  The guest of honor sat on the center couch in the far right position.  There were slaves at your feet who would respond to your needs.  Food was brought out in several courses.  Martial in other poems discusses the extravagance of his hosts. 

The passing of the cup was a common gesture.  During the meal if you wished to acknowledge someone, you could raise a cup to them.  Also, a cup of wine was often passed and shared by the guests.  The guest of honor received the cup first.  No one wants to pass a cup to Calliodorus, however.  This could be due to the fact that he has a poor sense of humor, he is too drunk, or he is a fellator.  Martial often employs insults to the mouth to suggest oral sex.  To our ears, the name Calliodorus sounds like “malodorous” which is comical.  (Edwards)

Martial hated people who pretended to be rich and sophisticated but were really not.  Many of his poems ridicule equestrian men who flaunt their wealth in such a way that makes them unappealing.  In this poem we meet Calliodorus, who happens to be one of those men.  (Krauss)

Edwards, Catherine. The Politics of Immorality in Ancient Rome. 1st. Cambridge UK: Cambridge U Press, 1993.

Krauss, Franklin B. “The Motive of Martial's Satire” The Classical Weekly, Vol. 38, No. 3 (Oct. 16, 1944), pp. 18-20. Published by: Classical Association of the Atlantic States.







E. Craig