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Wordle: Martial VI 



Marianus, you know that you are legacy-hunted,
you know this man who legacy-hunts is greedy,
and you know what this man who legacy-hunts wants.
You, however, write this man as heir in your final will, idiot,
and you want him to be in your place, you madman.
‘Yet, he sent great gifts.’ But he sent them in a fish-hook;
and is a fish able to love the fisherman?

Will this man truly weep in sorrow over your fate?
If you desire that he weep, Marianus, you should give him nothing.

  LXIII meter: Elegiac Couplet

  Scīs tē|cāp tā|rī, scīs|hūnc quī|cāp tăt, ă|vā rūm,

Ēt scīs|quī cāp|tāt,||quīd, Mă rĭ|ā nĕ, vĕ|līt.

  Tū tă mĕn|hūnc tă bŭ|līs hē|rē dēm,|stūl tĕ, sŭp|rē mīs

scrī bĭs ĕt|ēs sĕ tŭ|ō||vīs, fŭ rĭ|ō sĕ, lŏ|cō.

  ‘Mū nĕ ră|māg nă tă|mēn mī|sīt’ sēd|mī sĭt ĭn|hā mō;

Ēt pīs|cā tō|rēm||pīs cĭs ă|mā rĕ pŏ|tēst?

  Hī cĭ nĕ|dē flē|bīt vē|rō tŭ ă|fā tă dŏ|lō rĕ?

Sī cŭ pĭs,|ūt plō|rēt,||dēs, Mă rĭ|ā nĕ, nĭ|hĭl.



The legacy hunter was a common subject for Roman authors, including Martial. This poem is addressed to the rich Marianus, who has unwittingly become the "fish" to the unnamed legacy-hunter's "fisherman", a usual metaphor for legacy-hunting (Champlin 211). This is the inverse of poem  2.26, in which the legacy hunter is duped into thinking he is close to attaining his goal (Watson 282). Marianus is willingly trying to place the hunter into his will, but Martial warns him otherwise. The first two lines of the poem are full of anaphora, with scis used three times and capto used twice. This repetition gets across the idea that Martial is trying to talk some sense into poor Marianus. It is also important to note that even with Marianus' thrice "knowing", he is still an idiot and a madman to add the hunter to his will. The excuse that Marianus gives in answer to Martial's ridicule provides the poet with a way to bring in the very appropriate metaphor of fishing. Marianus has bit onto the hook of the legacy hunter because it was attached to little bits of bait in the form of gifts. Marianus seems to be the knowing victim of a gold-digger.
The question that arises from this fact is why would Marianus add the legacy hunter to his will if he knew he was only fishing around for some money after he died? Perhaps Marianus had no one else to pass his money on to, except for the one who often gave him delightful gifts, or, more unlikely, he really has no idea that he is a victim despite Martial telling him that he knows what is going on. The Roman will is a way to achieve an extension of one's life on earth after death with the hope that the deceased will be remembered is a good light, which is probably why Marianus is adding the hunter into his will even though it is not true friendship or caring (Champlin 212). Martial points out that the legacy hunter will not feel sorrow for the passing of Marianus. If Marianus is desiring of someone to cry for him after he is gone it will not happen. He must have another motive. Marianus wants to feel as if he is loved, and maybe the only one he feels this from is a legacy hunter. Marianus wants that man to cry for him, and Martial cleverly shows the best way to achieve this goal.


Champlin, Edward. "Creditur Vulgo Testamenta Hominum Speculum Esse Morum: Why the Romans Made Wills." Classical Philology  84 no. 3 (1989): 198-215.

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

N. Jurek