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Wordle: Martial VI 



Phoebus, you invent fake hairs with oil

And a dirty scalp is covered with painted hairs.

It is not necessary to employ a barber for your head:

A sponge is able to shave you better, Phoebus.

LVII meter: Elegiac Couplet

Mēn tī|rīs fīc|tōs ūn|guēn tō,|Phoē bĕ, că|pīl lōs
     ēt tĕ gĭ|tūr pīc|tīs||sōr dĭ dă|cāl vă cŏ|mīs.
Tōn sō|rēm căpĭ|tī nōn|ēst ăd hĭ|bē rĕ nĕ|cēs sĕ:
     rā dĕ rĕ|tē mĕ lĭ|ūs||spōn gĕ ă,|Phoē bĕ, pŏ|tēst.



In this epigram Martial mocks one particular human decent, baldness. In the epigram Martial suggests to a man named Phoebus that he use a sponge, not a barber to shave his head. This is because his hair, having lost all of it, is painted on. The Watsons suggest that even though this is a common defect to mock (as well as toothlessness) this poem might have special meaning because Domitian was very self-consious of his own lack of hair. In fact as John Woodforde comments, Domitian was completely bald, yet minted his coins with a full head of hair on his bust. However, it might not have been in reference to Domitian as Suetonius suggested and which the Watsons reference. According to Franklin Krauss Martial's audience also enjoyed laughing at human defects. Leonard Thompson speaks to this subject as well but concludes with the help of Sezelest that this is why Martial was not in Domitian's direct favor and also serves as an indicator of what type of literature concerning the ruling was permitted during Domitioan's reign. 

Hanna Szelest. 1974 “Domition and Martial”

Krauss, Franklin. "The Motive of Martial's Satire." The Classical Weekly 38(1944): 18-20.

Thompson, Leonard. "The book of Revelation:Apocalypse and empire." Oxford University Press US 1997 Web. <http://books.google.com/books?id=anxw1ZXpwLgC&pg=PA108&dq=martial+phoebus+6.57>.

Woodforde, John. "The strange story of false hair." Taylor & Francis 1971. 9.


C. McGee