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EPIGRAMMATA VI
 
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Wordle: Martial VI 
 

 
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65

‘You compose an epigram in hexameters’ I know Tucca is saying.
Tucca,  it is accustomed to be done and, in fact, Tucca,  it is allowed.
But, however, this one is long’ This is also accustomed and it is allowed, Tucca:
if you approve of shorter poems, read only my distichs.
Let it be agreed upon by us, that it is permitted for me to write long epigrams 
and for you, Tucca, to pass them by.

  LXV Meter: Elegiac Couplet

  ‘Hē xă mĕt|rīs ĕ pĭ|grām mă fă|cīs’ scĭ ŏ|dī cĕ rĕ|Tūc cām.

Tūc că, sŏ|lēt fĭ ĕ|rī,||dē nĭ quĕ,|Tūc că, lĭ|cēt.

  ‘Sēd tă mĕn|hōc lōn|gūm ͜e̸st’ sŏ lĕt|hōc quŏ quĕ,|Tūc că, lĭ|cēt quĕ:

Sī brē|vi̸ ͜ō ră prŏ|bās,||dīs tĭ chă|sō lă lĕ|gās.

  Cōn vĕ nĭ|āt nō|bīs, ūt|fās ĕ pĭ|grām mă tă|lōn gă

Sīt trān|sī rĕ tĭ|bī,||scrī bĕ rĕ,|Tūc că, mĭ|hī.


 
EPIGRAM VI.65

 

SUMMARY
    Tucca is mentioned in other poems of Martial, and appears to be a  pretentious snob and an annoying but not threatening critic/imitator of Martial's poetry. The tension between those who thought epigram should be quite short and Martial and his predecessors is brought to the forefront in this poem. Tucca complains that Martial is unconventional in two ways. He writes epigram in hexameter, which is normally reserved for epic poetry. Going along this theme, Tucca also says that Martial writes poems that are much too long for an epigram. Epigram was originally written on funerary monuments or on other buildings or monuments, and thus had to be on the shorter side in order to fit on the medium of writing. When the epigram moved to paper, the idea that epigrams should be distichs, two line poems, or perhaps a couple of lines longer persisted through the Callimachean poets (Spisak 293). These poets placed emphasis on creating poems using rigid technique and style, which Martial rebelled against often (Roman 123). The Romans to whom Martial owed much of his own writing style and technique, Marsus, Pedo, and Catullus, all broke out of this mold occasionally. Martial finds it hard to accept Tucca's criticism when he can pull poems out of the library written by these well respected poets that do not follow the usual convention for writing epigrams.
   

This poem, 65, is an immediate defense of poem 64, which is a massive epigram at 32 lines AND is written in dactylic hexameter. Martial has purposely placed these poems together to show that he can write a longer poem in a different style while at the same time keeping true to his tradition of epigram.


Preston, Keith. "Martial and Formal Literary Criticism."
Classical Philology 15 no.4 (1920): 340-352.

Roman, Luke. "The Representation of Literary Materiality in Martial's Epigrams." The Journal of Roman Studies 91 (2001): 113-145.

Spisak, Art L. "Martial 6.61: Callimachean Poetics Revalued."
Transactions of the American Philological Association 124 (1994): 291-308.

N. Jurek


 
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