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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
  • LATIN
  • ENGLISH
  • METRICS

54

If, Aulus, you forbid Sextilianus to say “men of great size” and “women of great size”
    The miserable man will scarcely join three words.
“What does he want for himself?” you say. I will say what I suspect it to be:
    Sextilianus loves men of great size and women of great size.

LIX Meter: Elegiac Couplet

Tān tōs|ēt tān|tās sī|dī cĕ rĕ|Sēx tĭ lĭ|ā nŭm,
     Aū lĕ, vĕ|tēs, iūn|gēt||vīx trĭ ă|vēr bă mĭ|sēr.
'Quīd sĭ bĭ|vūlt?' īn|quīs. Dī|cām,quīd|sūs pĭ cĕr|ēs sē:
     Tān tōs| ēt tā|ntās||Sēx tĭ lĭ|ā nŭs ă|măt.  


 
EPIGRAM VI.54

 

SUMMARY
    The Romans were a people who spoke their minds and did not listen, and they were a people who had sexual desires that were viewed as being fine for some and not fine for others.  In this poem, Sextilianus is a man who speaks about big men and big women.  Aulus does not pay attention to this aspect of his speech and Aulus has to be told that when Sextilianus says that, he truly means that he wants big men and big women (sexually).  
    Martial takes time to split each of his books into different sections based on subjectivity.  Martial in this poem shows his great interest in the sexuality of Romans, and in this poem in particular, the sexuality of Sextilianus.  

            The same may be said of his frequent use of homosexual top-
            ics.  There was clearly a standard assumption in this classical pe-
            riod of Rome that men were promiscuously heterosexual and ho-
            mosexual, and the easy sexual access to charming slaves of both
            sexes. (Martial, J. P. Sullivan, and Peter Whigham. Epigrams of Martial. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987. pp 19)

    Aulus acts as the parent in this situation and treats Sextilianus as the child, and, like a usual parent, Aulus does not listen to his child.  

    The unusual play on words in this poem is the unique use of the substantives tantos and tantas.  These two words appear in the beginning and the end of the poem and, again, are in reference to the types of people Sextilianus likes sexually.  Sextilianus is the diminutive form of the name Sextus; in essence meaning 'little Sextus'.  The joke plays out by the end of the poem as LITTLE Sextus loving BIG men and BIG women.  

C. McLean


 
GLOSSARY/PARSING (LATIN)

 

COMMENTARY (ENGLISH)